The rose-tinted image of grape picking is not even remotely near the sheer back breaking horror of it all. For a start, the lovely bunches of grapes are not at a good height, but low down so you have to bend down. All the time. And then, most of them aren't just hanging there neat and tidy, waiting for the, snick, precise snip of your secateurs. They may be squashed between vine branches or trellis uprights, many will have sent out hardy tendrils that clamp to other branches, lots are hidden behind foliage, there is the ever-present danger of the person working the other side of the row taking off one of your fingers, then there are the wasps and hornets that arrive in droves once the sun is up. Oh no, it's a tough life in the vendemmia season. And then there's your back, which when you are the wrong side of, er, old really doesn't want to carry on after about four hours. I had the misfortune to be working the rows with a 78 year old local woman, Adrianna, who doesn't understand the meaning of "please, I beg you, for the love of God, slow down". Started at 8.00am, finished at 6.00 pm, half an hour for lunch. Never again.
Not much grape selection here Vinogirl. Everything goes in, mildewed, rotting or not and then it's off to the local co-operative. We picked all barbera on Friday.
At least Piero's happy, the old dog.