Friday, February 26, 2010

How to Prune a Grapevine, 102


I met a couple guys the other day who work for Cantina Sociale Cooperativa di San Marco. The day was warm for a change and the air felt new. It reminded me of helping my father clear areas of the woods around the house growing up. In the spring, we’d take a few tools and chop at the wilderness that was constantly threatening to swallow up our house in the Maine woods. It was one of my favorite activities in the world. I got to help out, manicure the forest so that there’d be more room for summertime activities, breathe the springtime air, and sometimes get paid a few bucks. Plus, once I was finished I could clearly perceive the work I had accomplished.


I get the feeling that the men I spoke with had similar feelings. They were jolly, smoking cigarettes with their shirt-sleeves rolled up, long rows of pruned vines in their wake. They predicted that the patch of Negroamaro, Aleatico, and Malvasia Nera vines they were working on would be finished in two or three days. The area looked like one-millionth of the whole.


How many years have they completed this work? Does it make sense to them the same way that growing tomatoes makes sense in every home garden? Cooperativa wineries rarely sell their wines abroad, supplying their particular townships instead. The men were enacting one step of a multistep process that would eventually result in putting wine on their friend’s dinner tables.


The bossman arrived a few minutes into our conversation and the men set to work a little more diligently. More or less everyone was just breathing the air, and the grape vines were renewing their diligence as well, preparing to grow another few feet and burst into a flourish of grapes before being cut back again.

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