Day 5: End of my first work week

Well it’s certainly been a busy week here. I’ve made some journal entries for myself to remind me of everything I am experiencing, but I’ll sum it up for you here:

I’ve been starting my work days at 7 a.m. here. Each sunrise is just as breath taking as the last. As much as I love seeing the Olympic Mountains each morning back home in Seattle, Cupramontana has a unique beauty to it as well. This is the view from the cellar my first morning:
Turns out the cellar is about a 10ish minute drive away from the home. And the vinyards are spread out in different areas. Sometimes we harvest from the vines in front of the cellar, other times we harvest from vineyards further away.

I have been joined by two other WWOOFers, Hillary and Lisa. Hillary is straight out of high school and a pretty level headed chick. I am so amazed that she is able to experience something like this at such a young age. She is WWOOFing for the next 8 months all over Europe, and this was her first stop. Lisa is older although I only guessed barely in her thirties. I was so wrong. Let’s say she looks crazy amazing for her age. She used to be a sommelier in New York and had experience selling wine from La Distesa. She orignally came in the spring to tend to the vineyards so now she is here to harvest. She is a free spirit a hard worker and very sweet.
We work with Corrado (who turns out I was so wrong he and Valeria are in their early 40’s. They just look amazing for their age!), and his wingman, Giovanni, who I think is about 30. I love Giovanni’s name. I can’t stop saying it. Saying it out loud gives it a special ring. He might possibly be one of the hardest working men I have ever met. The man is non stop go go go. And on top of that, incredibly sweet and a complete gentleman. He speaks english pretty well and has a great sense of humor. Ironically he learned english while in Ireland and in school. I fully expect at this point my friends are thinking that I might runaway and marry this man and never come back. But don’t be too silly you guys. 🙂 Giovanni has a great winemaking background after studying it in college and working at other vinyards including one in Sicily. Oh Sicily…

We usually harvest twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. We usually take a 3-4 hour break in the afternoon because it is too hot to work. So what do we do? We go back to the house and swim and take naps of course! The pool has natural water and there is definitely something to be said for swimming in a pool on your lunch break surrounded by the valley. Here is a photo of Hillary in her usual nap spot:
Yeah…life is rough for us.

Corrado’s mother, Daniela, is an amazing woman. She is very Italian and has been teaching me some great Italian. I am so much more moticated to learn Italian now so I can come back and speak more with the family. She learned English 50 years ago in Africa of all places. Turns out she has friends in Bellevue and was just here in the winter. She is quite the character and makes us an amazing home cooked lunch every day at the cellar. We’ve had so many types of pasta I’ve already lost track, but one thing in particular that she served that I loved was this tomatoes dish. It was halved roma tomatoes with olive oil and hard boiled eggs. It was pretty refreshing. We’ve also had risotto, pancetta, all sorts of goodies. Daniela said she would teach me how to make gnocchi sometime so I am really excited for that.

Here’s a funny side story: After we got back from harvesting I was really craving some water. So when we got back Corrado’s mother brought out a couple glasses and a plain wine bottle of what I THOUGHT was water. It was definitely water. So imagine my surprise when I started chugging it. They really love drink their wine like water here. That’s all. 🙂

Harvesting is A LOT of work. I knew it would be, but holy cow. I have never sweated so much so many days in a row since drill practice in high school! We constantly walking up and down rows and it is HOT out. I am always burying myself in the shade of the vines while I’m working. On top of harvesting the grapes we immediately have to press them for the juice. And washing and tending to the other batches in the making. Our days are very full. By the time we finish our second shift it’s practically dark and we only have time to shower, eat and tuck ourselves in for the night. Corrado has been an amazing host and teacher. The photos above show us pressing red grapes. He answers any questions I ask about wine making and has a great sense of humor. He really does fit the perfect stereotype of an Italian winemaker. When I get a good photos that emcompasses that, I’ll post it. He is tall, thin, long brown curly Italian hair, wears these boots with his shirt tucked in a great fedora/sun hat. With his clippers, Lisa describes him as a prince. And he really does look like an Italian one haha. I love our lunch hours because we chat and joke and it’s so great. Lisa actually speaks some Italian s so it’s been really interesting and fun to watch them all interact. I LOVE listening to them speak Italian. It’s such a beautiful language. I’m actually picking up a lot of things a lot more quickly than I thought. Just imagine how I would be if I was here for a few months more!

Speaking of which, each day I am here, the more I see myself being able to live out here. I love my home in Seattle because I love my friends and the life I’ve created for myself there…but there is something about living in the country in Italy that I am really loving. It’s peaceful. I’ve never worked to actually create a product before and I’m beginning to understand how enriching it is to be able to build a product with your own hands. It’s definitely fulfilling a great part of my life and I am enjoying every sweaty glorious moment of it. I have not started practicing my harmonica yet, but maybe when we go to the sea tomorrow on our first day off I’ll give it a whirl. 🙂

Being out in the fields has given me a lot of time to think (when I’m not bugging Giovanni with questions about his life out here). It’s been an amazing experience, I really can’t express how happy I am out here. Working hard, making wine, enjoying the surrounding views. Everything I ever thought about Italians have been true with my experience so far. They value family, are incredibly hard workers, and love food and wine. They live to love – which has always been my motto. And to work hard and play hard. I am incredibly thankful that I have had this opportunity because my work is allowing me to be gone for so long. And even more so, thankful that my time off is paid time off because I’ve been saving it all for so long. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time off than here.

But I’m off to bed now, so I can enjoy my first day off. Ciao!

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