In the video below, brothers-in-law Francesco and Vincenzo talk about winemaking in Italy when they were young. Like most families at that time, theirs had small vineyards. They describe the process of crushing the grapes, which was done by stomping with their feet because they didn’t have mechanical crushers, not even hand-cranked ones. The grapes were placed on top of wooden planks laid side by side across the width of a large cement basin. After the grapes were stomped and fully mashed, the planks were separated so that the skins, stems, seeds, and juices could fall into the basin beneath. More grapes were placed on the planks and stomped, then emptied into the basin until it was full. The crushed grapes were allowed to ferment for one day before draining only the juice into another basin that sat in front of and a step below the upper basin. The skins, stems and seeds remained in the upper basin. The juice fermented for several days and was then put into large wooden barrels where the final fermentation took place.
Because winemaking was a labor intensive process, it often required that families and neighbors work together. In spite of the work, Vincenzo seems to have fond memories of the yearly event. I find this with many of the gardeners. Work days for such things as making sausage or harvesting wheat became occasions when family and friends would gather. While sharing work, they also shared food, stories and laughter, and created lasting memories.
Learn more about Francesco and Vincenzo by clicking on their names here.