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September 19, 2009

Let the grape harvest begin

I picked grapes for the first time in my life today. I know it will not be the last since I will be here for two years. Each year around this time grape harvesting starts. As I mentioned in my last post Moldovans are very proud of their wine. Almost every household has vines in their front and back gardens. Often, to get to the front door one walks under a beautiful canopy of grape vines. So now, as I walk by neighbours' homes, I see them on ladders picking their grapes.

My host family has about a half a hectare of land "indeal" or in the hills and it is planted with grapes. This morning we set out early at 9 am. with buckets and enthusiasm for a day of picking grapes. Last night the huge barrels were put in the garage and prepared for the harvest.

Surprisingly, it was easy to pick the grapes, but they were so many that our fingers are now stained and sore from picking so many. I will try to upload pics. The grapes are "frumos" or beautiful. They are also very sweet "dulce", just right for wine. The experience was great and I bonded more with most favorite host sister.

We brought the grapes back, transferred them to the barrels where they were crushed and will now be left to ferment for three or four days. The fermented juice will then be placed in the basement. More on the process later. I still have to learn more and want to chronicle each step.

In addition to each Moldovan household boasting about their wine. Moldova as a country boast of their famous wineries at Milestii Mici and Cricova. I plan to visit Milestii Mici next month and will blog about that. Basically it is a huge underground winery with thousands of bottles of wine ranging in prices up to $3,000.00. It is expensive for Moldovans to visit as the cost of tours start at 250 Moldovan Lei. Cricova is way more expensive and the majority of Moldovans can only dream touring this winery. I will visit Cricova next spring and blog about it so look out for it.

October 9, 2009

Turning Grapes Into Wine

It’s now been two weeks since we picked all the grapes. As I wrote before, according to my host father, the grapes, once the process of preparation is complete, need a few weeks to ferment and then, “aici” – here, there is wine. So after we picked all the grapes, they were squeezed through an old fashioned, hand cranked box made of wood to extract the first batch of juice into huge barrels. After this, they were placed in the barrels with the juice to settle down. This is the first part of the process done directly after picking.

At intervals, boiling hot water is mixed in with the juice to help the process along. Meanwhile the "must" the first settling of the juice is siphoned off and placed run through a hose into the barrels in the basement which is the final resting place of the juice where it will become wine. After a week, it is time for the final part of the process to wring every drop of juice from those grapes. This "machine" is another wooden piece of apparatus and is very interesting to behold. It is hand cranked in circles to extract all the juice and can be quite tiring. All the juice joins the rest in barrels in the basement where it will ferment. Home made wine is a extensive, long and much involved process and gives me a new appreciation for the labor that goes into it.

I shall let you all know how it turns out.

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to My Take on all Things Moldovan: A Peace Corps Volunteer's Adventures While Living and Volunteering in Moldova in the Food/Wine category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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