Pradžia / Radikaliai

Wine moments in Puglia

You know those people who love the sunrise, who are energized with the first rays of sun reaching out through the sky? You know those people who are extremely chirpy in the morning? So yes, I am not those people. I have been once more convinced about that when Pierluigi woke me up to get ready to go to pick grapes that morning. And the other thing I didn’t really realize was that South Italy in October in the early morning just before the dawn is rather… let's say, brisk. I called it freezing at the time but it's always a matter of interpretation of the sources.

Evelina Kvartūnaitė
2021 m. Vasario 22 d., 19:58
Skaityta: 29 k.
Photos by Evelina Kvartūnaitė.
Photos by Evelina Kvartūnaitė.

But all that said it was also dawn to the day when for the first time in my life I will no longer be able to say I have not picked grapes for the wine I have been enjoying for quite a few years by now. It was a big day for me and I suppose quite a usual routine day for the rest of the family.

Considering the fact that I was maybe a bit more helpful than a decorative addition to the help for everyone I felt a lot of joy in the experience. My surprise was how low and intertwined and picturesque vine trees were weighted down by the beautiful dark purple and pale yellow bunches of grapes.

The specific wine trees are of an old wine grape variety called Nero di Troia which got its name from the town of Troia in the province of Foggia the legendary founder of which was the Greek hero Diomedes, after he had destroyed the ancient Troy. He apparently planted vine cuttings brought with him from Greece, just outside the city walls, where it still thrives today.

This is a story that’s being disputed by professors and grape geneticists but I will leave that to them as I love the romanticism of the story of Greek heroes and ancient times. And while I pick the fruit into the large buckets enjoying the jolly banter of zio Mimmo (or uncle Mimmo) in the background (or sometimes really close to me!) I cannot help but wonder is this wine going to taste next year and feeling so lucky to experience all the different parts of the South Italian life and culture which Pierluigi allows me to taste and lick and inhale!

I have been extremely lucky to experience Italy and especially Puglia through the eyes of locals in small towns as Pierluigi is like a brother to me and therefore I usually skip the word “like” and just call him my brother. From traveling a lot in my life I know the massive difference of experiencing the place  through the eyes of a tourist and someone who is just tagging along and experiencing the “normal” life for which I am so grateful to Pierluigi and his whole family which already feels like my family in many ways.

And so as the sun goes higher and higher the car gets fuller with grapes and only zio Mimmo doesn’t seem to get tired, everyone start moving to the place where magic happens. That’s where I am removed from the caravan and leave it to people who know better and I know better not to be in their way. It’s also a pretty sacred time – time for lunch.

Perhaps I will tell you about the further adventures including wine pairings with sea animals, as Pierluigi calls them or how olives come to be and can be “mummified”. And yes lunch – served with Nero di Troia from last year. Feels not as amazing, I imagine, as the next years lunch with the wine that was collected today.