The “vendemmia” (grape harvest) is an ancient Italian tradition: it was an important event not only for the wine production but also as a ritual which involved whole families.

Nowadays everything is carried out using specific machineries, but in the past the harvest was totally manual.

Let’s go back to that more fascinating times!

The season for the vendemmia lasts from July to the end of October, however each type of grape is ready at a specific time to be harvested: farmers used to test the grape to make sure that it was mature, then they gathered family and friends and started this tiring but rewarding job.

During the harvest, farmers paid attention not to break the grapes in order to avoid the premature start of the fermentation. The grape was put in high plastic bins and after that, in the most popular tradition, young members of the family used to step on it, but it was common to squash it with wooden sticks as well. This phase was essential to make the fermentation start.

The must was then carried to the farm and put in wooden barrels to rest for a long period before the bottling process.

Farmers used to work for long hours and, after a day of hard work, there was the traditional rich lunch which was considered a proper ritual: women prepared amazing food to celebrate another good harvest and they used all the seasonal products available to make simple but tasty recipes.

In Toscana, for example, farmers used to make a cake called schiacciata con l’uva, a simple sweet bread with black grape that you can still find around the region.

In Emilia Romagna there are the saba, a thick syrup obtained boiling the must for 6-10 hours, and the savor, made adding fresh and dry fruit to the saba and boiling it for 2-3 hours. The result is a kind of jam to eat with bollito (boiled meat) or polenta (cream made of maize flour), to fill sweet ravioli or to prepare some Christmas sweets.

In Puglia, you can taste the cartellate, fried sweets served covered with vin cotto, boiled must similar to the saba.

Do you know any other delicious food prepared to celebrate the vendemmia or any nice tradition related to it?