Farmers in south Italy still produce their own wine, but small local wineries find it hard to compete with the larger cooperatives.
While the last grapes are being picked, 569 towns across Italy are getting ready to celebrate the harvest. the 569 towns are members of the Organization Città del Vino , as signalled by signs along the road. By definition a Città del Vino has given name to his own IGT, DOC or DOCG wines. And wine is an integral part of the town’s history, culture and traditions. These days therefore, many towns celebrate Vendemmia with a Festa dell’uva e dei Vini, as seen in Castelnuovo Berardenga and Chiusi in the Siena province, in Velletri Roma, Brisighella in Ravenna, Pianello Val Tidone in Piacenza and Montefalco in Perugia Province.
Our Italian city of 20,000 inhabitants has a handful of winemakers and wine corporations. Here you can see farmers hand in their grapes and follow the process from pressing to fermentation and storage in tanks and barrels, while mountains of pressed and fermented grape residue grow in the courtyard. At one of the winehouses you can even meet the family when they bottle the wine, before it is sold and handed over the counter. There is also storage room with a fine collection of old clay amphora, and the owner likes to guide visitors around and tell them about the wine making process. The only disadvantage is that the wine does not have quite the same attraction as the premises and the hospitality.
Small local wine makers find it hard to compete on both quality and price with large wineries. Their wines often develop a slightly rough character and an alcohol percent that is too high, which makes it very similar to the local farmers’ homemade brew, which they proudly presented or sell through the back door to family and friends.
Our ‘vineyard’ of old Primitivo stems is only 40-50 metres long, and grapes are left to the birds or the neighbours, because we rarely visit Italy in September. Sometimes we do, however, get a plastic container with 5 litres strong, homemade wine, and I try to follow the Vendemmia at a distance.
More on wine making in Italy