We did it! Walter and I saved the Pinot Noir grapes from the wild boar and made red wine… well sort of.
Twice we ran into the wild boar on our late night hikes home, back to the old abandoned farmhouse we’re camping in.
The first time, as Walter and I passed the vineyard, I found wild boar skat. As I’m looking down to decide if it was warm (and thinking to myself WHAT THE HELL AND I DOING OUT HERE) I looked up with my headlamp and saw a pair of glowing eyes shining back at me. Then a second pair of eyes appeared.
I wish I could say I kept my cool. Instead I somewhat retreated, backing towards a fence, fearful that we were being surrounded and searching for a spot where my back would be safe. I then froze and said a few choice words. Meanwhile Walter walked forward towards the glowing eyes and confirmed, yes, they were in fact wild boar. He then initiated attack by launching rocks in their direction.
After a short standoff, the rock throwing worked and the wild boar ran off deeper into the woods. The following morning Sebastiano was proud to hear the news that we had scared off the wild boar.
The next night I was more prepared. I had a rock in one hand and my little 2 inch knife in the other. I was determined to be ready this time!
It was the same time and same spot. We saw no eyes but instead lots of shuffling in the woods. Walter made an offensive throw, launching a rock into the woods. There was more rustling and we took a couple steps forward. Then we heard it, this deep, long, low tone growl. I turned to Walter and gave him an “OH HELL NO!” look. Honestly I’m still baffled that a boar could made such a terrifying sound.
Walter wanted to continue on but at this point he had no choice, I was already picking up speed and running back to the main road, away from the woods and away from the wild boar.
So the score stands: Wild Boar: 1, Humans: 1
However in the end I’d like to say we won the war. They never ended up getting the grapes and we were able to do the harvest a few days later.
All the Pinot Noir grapes were covered in this green netting to protect from the birds. So the first and easiest job was to pull the nets off enough to reach the grapes. Both Walter and I got a terrible 24 hour stomach bug the day before the harvest so this ended up being our main job.
As we pulled back the nets, Sebastiano (pictured above) and three other men went behind us, sniped the grapes and dropped them into these crates.
In about 3 hours it was all done and we filled the back of the trailer with crates full of grapes.
John Lucca and his brother are friends of Sebastiano (and the local town sheep and goat shepherds) and helped with the grape harvest.
And then the moment I’ve been dreaming about ever since watching the I Love Lucy episode where Lucille Ball stomps the grapes!
WE STOMPED THE GRAPES!!!
(Walter please don’t hate me for posting a picture of you with so much man thigh!)
The grapes pretty much filled both this bucket and a second bucket of equal size. The more we stomped the warmer it got as the fermentation process began.
The grapes stay in these buckets for many days following the harvest, and multiple times each day we’ll move them around in different ways to introduce more air into the juice. Daily Sebastiano tests the sugar content using a refractometor to determine when to press the juice from the skins. Eventually the juice will get barreled but we’ll be on to our next stop before that happens.
Harvest day was hard work for many reasons. It was very hot, the work was tedious and I hadn’t eaten in 36 hours because of that terrible stomach virus. However it was actually very glamorous farming in many ways which I feel extremely grateful to have been part of. To get to this harvest day, Sebastiano and his helpers put in laborious hours day after day, year round. To be involved in this climatic moment is humbling. And now we will always be part of the “Jacine” 2017 Pinot Noir.