When I hear grape stomping and grape harvest this picture of Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball of the I Love Lucy show) always comes to mind. Of course I grew up watching re-runs of this famous 1950’s TV sitcom. I don’t recall the story line but I do remember Lucy stomping grapes in Italy and getting into a food fight with the Italian lady. Whatever it was probably one of the reasons Italy was on my bucket list.
Of course many of us don’t exactly travel to Italy to stomp grapes, but if you find yourself in Italy during the fall then you’re in for a treat! Fall is grape harvest time in Italy. Now I don’t have to tell you that Italy has a ton of vineyards and everyone one of them has a grape harvest or vendemmia every fall.
There are 20 Italian wine regions, basically every region in the country has vineyards and produce wine. Of course the most popular regions are Tuscany, Veneto, and Piedmont. Tuscany is where the Chianti Region is located, the Veneto is famous for its Valpolicella wines, and Piedmont known for its Barolo and Moscato d’Asti. The other regions have their own specialties including Lambruscos, Pinot Grigio, and sparkling wines that rival the best Champagnes of France. Whatever your wine preference I’m sure you’ll find a grape harvest to suit you.
Now when I say grape harvest I don’t just mean picking grapes off the vine and stomping them in a huge vat, you can of course do that if you want to. But grape harvest means grape festivals and festas! And that means wine tastings and pairings. Yup lots and lots of delicious food and wine!
Our family recently went to a grape harvest festival at the Fattoria dell’Eremo not far from Vicenza in north east Italy. But before I tell you about it let me first give you some general information about Italy’s grape harvest and festivals.
The vendemmia season is generally in the fall, but times vary depending on the region and the summer weather. When the summer is very hot the harvest season starts early, harvest season is later in the north part of the country. So harvest season is sometime as early as late August and lasts until early to mid November. But it’s safe to say that you’ll more than likely find a harvest festival somewhere between early September to mid October for sure.
Having said that let me tell you about our grape harvest adventure. First off be prepared, this is run on Italian time, meaning it turns into a day long affair starting around noon and ending sometime after sunset.
Before you go you must book in advance. The cost is €25 for adults who will drink wine, €15 for adults who will not drink wine (that’s your designated driver, trust me you will need one!), and €10 for children. The price includes beverages (4 glasses of wine if you paid for the wine ticket), food (antipasti, pasta, meat dish, dessert), music, and grape picking and stomping. There are also horses to ride for those who want to ride around the vineyard, there’s no extra charge for the ride.
You’re asked to bring your own scissors, a pair for everyone who wants to pick grapes. You don’t have to pick grapes if you don’t want to. You could just admire them or enjoy the views.
You put the grapes you picked into a crate which is the combined with the grapes everyone else picked.
When all the grapes have been piled into the big vats it’s grape stomping time. To keep it organized the kids are allowed to stomp the grapes first, followed by the ladies, then the men, then ladies and men.
Now mind you while all this is going on they’re bringing out food course by course. Large plates of antipasti that included a huge wheel of cheese you could help yourself to. Pizzas, pastas, and roast meats. Then there’s dessert! And of course the wine is flowing. If you need more wine other than the 4 glasses included in your ticket there’s a bar where you can buy wine by the bottle to enjoy during the harvest or to take home.
It’s a long day but definitely lots of fun for the entire family!
This vineyard also has a restaurant so if you can’t make the vendemmia or harvest you can always come for a wine tasting event. They do pizza and wine pairings all year long.
Another winery in the Vicenza area is Cantine Enomas Muraro in the little town of Longare. They don’t offer a grape harvest event but you’re always welcome to a DIY wine tasting.
If you bring a picnic lunch or dinner they have tables and benches outside where you can hang out and drink wine purchased from the winery store.
If you’re not sure which wine you like you can grab a wine glass and taste different wines for €1. You can pour your own wine to taste and buy from the taps. And while you’re there check out the huge wine vats!
Once you decide you can buy one of their pre-bottled wines starting at €3 a bottle. Or you can purchase a large plastic or glass bottle and fill it up yourself. By the way don’t toss the bottle you bought, you can bring it in next time for a refill!
One of the great things about Italy is the wine! Even if you’re not a big wine drinker trust me you’ll find it hard to resist a glass or two. In fact buying wine at a restaurant is much cheaper than buying a soda! Really!
Ready to book your autumn in Italy? Let me help you plan your great adventure! Contact me 808-372-7734, SNTTours!