Working with the sun on your back

So I have taken over part of a vineyard. I must be mad! The closest I have ever come to viticulture is helping neighbours in the valley at the vendemmia. As I discovered cutting bunches of grapes in long September days is pleasurable, especially when there is a good farmhouse lunch too….
Otherwise I know nothing!
Last week said neighbour came and showed us how to prune vines. He makes it look so simple, I guess it is, but these vines have been neglected and require radical pruning, to my mind a skilled task.
Anyway in the warmth of yesterday’s sun and ignoring the fact that I still require to finish pruning my olive trees and the lawns at Bellaugello Gay Guest House are growing madly and require again to be cut, the garden tidied and preparations made for our first weekend 29th. March I set off to the vineyard.
The newly bouncy Jenny at my heels, we went in the car, the Apetto would not start… Rats! Down into the vineyard and secateurs at the ready begin pruning. It is scarily uneasy when there is nobody else there. Analyse, cut, saw, trim, tie, working with the sun on my back it was a real delight. Three hours soon passed.

I managed to get all but three vines in one row done when my friend Isis with whom I am sharing the vineyard came down to have a chat and inspect my work. Isis started working in the vineyard last year, so her knowledge is slightly greater than mine… We walked my row of pruned vines, it was real odd trying to justify how I pruned individual plants, I couldn’t until I worked out that we were walking in reverse from how I had pruned them. Walking from top to bottom I saw the logic in my pruning, one puny vine then one vigorous vine, the differences explained.
So yesterday I pruned one complete row and two further vines, that doubles the pruned rows! Only another 19 rows to go……..

Letters from Italy

The last in a BBC radio 4 series of shorts on life in current day Italy, this one written and broadcast today by London based journalist Annalisa Piras I found well worth a listen.

For those of you with smartphones the QR code will take you directly to the recording

Otherwise check out the BBC website: