Vendemmia! – Paradiso Ceramics Australia | Handmade in Italy



Any culture which creates a specific word for an activity or object is openly declaring that this thing is important (very, very important).  For example the word, vendemmia. This is the Italian word for harvest - and not just any harvest but the harvest of the grapes.


It's September 2010 and our third trip to our beloved Umbria. Needing overflow accommodation for some friends who were joining us later, we heard about a couple not far from the Paradiso farmhouse who were running a bed & breakfast. We instantly clicked with owners Birgitta, originally from Germany with good English, and her Italian partner Piero and shared a number of enjoyable meals with them during our six week stay.

One night they called us to ask if we would like to help them with their ‘vendemmia’ the next day? 

Of course we would! 

Picture these two Aussies slowly working our way along the grape vines in the mild autumn sunshine, snipping off heavy bunches of grapes and trimming off those the wasps had munched on.

 Picking grapes in the autumn sunshine

Around midday, Birgitta spreads out a blanket and we pause for a picnic among the vines. We feast on crusty bread, hunks of hard cheese, black olives, truffle salami and wild boar sausages, washed down with a small glass of vino rosso, followed by strong coffee (yes, Birgitta had brought the coffee maker and a gas burner!), finishing with un piccolo dolce - small custard-filled pastries. 

After five hours of picking, Piero’s rather quaint modified tractor was loaded high. 

Jan, Birgitta and Piero with the load of grapes in Piero's tractor, Assisi, Umbria.

Back at the house, we unloaded the grapes while Piero fed them through the stalk stripper machine in his cantina. Out came 500 litres of juice, much to his surprise. 

500 litres of grape juice in the vat, ready for turning into wine.

The day finished perfectly with homemade lentil soup with wood-fire toasted bread, rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil, followed by sweet lamb chops and char-grilled capsicum. 😋

Birgitta cooks bread and sweet lamb cutlets on a wood fire.

Is your mouth watering? Italians know how to make simple and delicious food, and Birgitta has acquired this skill to perfection.

Participating in vendemmia was the highlight of this trip. That evening, we wearily dropped into bed wondering what the wine would taste like. We slept for 10 hours.

Postscript: A year later, we tried the wine from this vintage. It was awful! Piero assured us the quality of the wine was dependent on many factors and it was unlikely related to our contribution to the batch. We hope he was right. 😏 

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