Since I was a child at a certain time of the year my “nonno” (Italian for grandfather) called me downstairs to the cellar of our family house: the time of bottling had arrived. I vividly remember the smell of wine that pervaded the dark air in the cold cellar.
Corks, bottles and demijohns of various sizes were around us. I knew that I had to suddenly prepare my seat near the wine tank, waiting for orders. Then nonno started to move the wine from the container to a jar and some wine occasionally spilled during the process causing wonderful aromas of fresh wine filling up the air.
We worked together for a couple of days bottling all the wines, labeling them with handwritten stickers and corking them by hand. They were moved to a safe cold place in a special room near the cellar. Afterwards we cleaned everything and put all the tools back in their places. There was always lots of jokes, lullabies and stories and making it great fun for both of us as well as the importance of producing something that contributed to every meal throughout the year.
I have vivid memories of my nonno’s vintage. After picking grapes with friends and my parents, our lunch picnics at the end of a row were a time for conviviality. Our hands that remained dark purple for days after the end of the picking and four or five or us crushing the grapes by feet in a large wooden vat half full of berries. The unforgettable great quietness and gentle smells arising from the main underground cellar that was packed up with large wood barrels, concrete vats, small containers of any size. Memories that bring joy to me always.