Is picking grapes for the fall wine harvest or picking olives for the November olive harvest in Italy on your bucket list? A truly authentic experience with local people and local food in Italy!
Rome food blogger, Eleanora Baldwin at agliooliopeperoncino.com, has written an excellent article, King Harvest, about when and how people in Italy harvest grapes and olives. More gastronomic tourists are taking part too. She says if you’re a friend of the wine maker or on a tour, it’s common to pick grapes. But Italian law allows only insured contractors in vineyards and fields. Since the picking is a delicate process, some wine makers are fussy about who handles their precious grapes.
If you’re serious about really taking part, you’ll be part of a team that starts picking grapes about 6:00 a.m. so it may be chilly. By late morning it can get pretty hot. You’ll need a jacket, a good pair of gumboots for the mud in the vineyards and a sunhat.
I remember picking grapes mid morning in Piedmont’s Barolo wine country with local friends. Their dad trained me for a few minutes on how to select the best grapes so I carefully followed his instructions. Later he told my friends I’d done a great job, thank goodness! I was so disappointed I couldn’t stay for bountiful Piedmontese lunch the family was serving—I had another lunch appointment!
The olive harvest happens in colder November so you need layers of clothes. The olive picking Eleanora describes can be physically demanding. Best way to participate is to stay in an agriturismo (farm accommodation) that has olive groves. Teams of 3-5 people use portable rakes to pick olives on lower branches, while others climb up ladders into the higher branches with rakes in hand.
Then you can go to the olive oil mill, see how they make your olives into oil and taste the new, fruity olive oil, a delicacy Italians enthusiastically await every November!
If you’d like to see more photographs of the wine making process in Italy, check out the article, “Grape Harvest In Valle Delle Rose” at browsingrome.com. A Tuscan winery invited some well known Italy food bloggers to pick grapes and write about their experience.
Would you like to pick grapes or olives on your fall holiday in Italy?
Looking for wine & olive harvest experiences? Check out these tours for unique, local experiences!