Sicily in OctoberA Sicilian Lifestyle Blog
The Sicilian Wine Harvest
When we think of Sicily, our mind wanders to the renowned cultural aspects of the largest Mediterranean island, whether that be its food, architecture or of course its infamous wine. Referencing back to the invasion and settlements of the Greek and Romans using centuries-old techniques it is fair to say the traditions of Sicilian wine making have been around for some time.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
We remember fondly, our grandparents making our family wine in their cellars, entering their home with a table full of wine producing grapes (no idea where they bought them from!) and watching them caringly begin the process of wine making. We would wait months before being allowed to sample the first sips of our proud house wine and when we did, it was strong, potent and really knocked you off your feet, always eaten with food of course!
The Sicilian Wine Movement
It is interesting to see over the last 30 years how much the wine world has developed in Sicily from using reused rustic old glass bottles to now lower impact, less weighted bottles to help lower air emissions and aid towards the combat of climate change.
Sicilian Indegionous Grape Varieties
In Sicily, you will discover indigenous grape varieties, some of the most known varieties been:
- Nerello Mascalese (red)
- Frappato (red)
- Perricone (red)
- Nero D’Avola (red)
- Grillo (white)
- Catarratto (white)
- Carricante (white)
- Grecanico (white)
- Inzolia (white)
The beauty behind the indegionous grape varieties is that the final wine result is not only based on the grape itself but also the terroir in which it is grown; whether that be Etna wines produced and grown on the volcanic soils of Mount Etna or a Grillo grape grown and produced up and down the coast in Western Sicily.
The Vendemmia, The Sicilian Wine Harvest
The end of September arrives and the start of October begins. This is a time in Sicily where our grapes have been patiently growing over the last year, receiving their final burst of the Sicilian sun and being prepared to be hand-picked and begin vinification. Harvesting usually can take place over two or three days but in larger vineyards even up to a week.
The harvest is an important part of life in Sicily as it gives work to the locals. A saying which is still used today goes something like this in Sicilian “ Travagghiu di vinnigna, ti signa, ti grigna, t’aligna e ti spigna”, which roughly translates to as “The harvest work marks you, entertains you, invigorates you and takes away your debts”.
In ancient times there were many traditions when it came to making wine, families would create festivities to celebrate the harvest and the pressing of the grapes. Women and children once used their bare feet to step on the grapes and there were times where only men were permitted to “dance” on the grapes.
At the end of the harvest a meal is cooked with the families and workers celebrating altogether and drinking the last few bottles of wine which have been held back from the last vintage. A joyful celebration which starts the new season and the vinification of the recently harvested grapes. It is also the perfect time for the first appearance of the new vintage of wine to join the table which has been patiently waiting to be released into the world.