I look at the photos and the day replays itself as if it is a slow-motion movie picture. I can’t believe this is my vineyard, and I can’t believe sometimes that this is my life. My friends’ faces are lit with dappled sunlight as they bend to cut the bunches of grapes through the vines and people everywhere are smiling and laughing. The day is playing out as I had hoped: the weather is balmy, sunny, my friends are relaxed, and their children are running freely as kids do when they visit the countryside.
There are more than 30 of us on this day, our second vendemmia or grape harvest since we bought our vineyard. All of us except for Filiberto are Canadians living in Naples as well as 5 friends from way back who came from Toronto and Norway specifically to participate in the harvest: a juxtaposition of faces, times and places that is not lost to me as I move from vine to vine, so filled with joy and excitement, that I can barely speak, but I enjoy listening to their conversations and banter.
The day was made easier by my friends who camped out at the vineyard in true Canadian style the night before in order to get everything ready. Colorful curtains were hung “Bedouin style” to add to the air of festivity. Barbeques were ready for the firing, fire pits blazing, tables and chairs set for the grand feast –our recompense for a day of work well done. The new outhouse that Ron and Joey built was painted and ready just days before.
My friends Carole and Ted organize the guests as they as they arrive, directing them as to where to park, sorting out their cutting tools and gloves, and showing them how and where to cut. Our friends Sharon and Randy are in charge of barbequing the baby back ribs, and setting out the food and tables. Friends, Karen, Scott and Angela take pictures to capture the day. Filiberto, my faithful Italian friend, neighbor and vineyard advisor, dedicates his entire day and tractor to us even though it is his 15th day of collecting grapes. As busy as he was, he took time to give every child there a ride on the tractor. At the end of the day he invited his family over and with them came home made sausages, Filiberto’s home made wine, his wife Pina, his brother Michele and his wife Giovanna and both of their children. Their presence means a great deal to us. It means that we have and ally and a friend. Above all else, that is what is important to him, which is what his wife Pina tells me. Communication is not always fluid between us, but somehow, I feel as though he cares deeply for us.
The day was grand: our grapes were upgraded this year and went into the “superior” blend. That was indeed a nice surprise but the highlight for me was being able to share this day and this place , to host friends new and old, Canadian and Italian on our vineyard in Solopaca.
On this day, the vineyard, and why we bought it suddenly started to make sense. In the words of Steve Jobs, “As you get older, and you look back on your life you begin to be able to connect the dots and it all begins to make sense.” The vineyard to me is a dot, that once connected to the others, must make up the perfect outline of a circle: the presence of new friends and old friends coming together in this place—this place which is a return to my Italian roots and a return to working the soil and the legacy of my “mezzadri” ancestors who worked Italian soil for landowners; they left for Canada, and in a sense I’ve brought part of them back. My circle is made up of dots of places, and people, which all suddenly became poignant for me today.
The day ends with traditional Italian hospitality, which has been so much a part of my upbringing: sharing in the breaking of bread and too much food.
The cycle on the vineyard is complete for another year. The vineyard’s cycle has now become part of our cycle. It has brought wholeness to my life. In training grapes to make good wine, I've reminded my soul to remember who I am and where I've come from. My vineyard has brought me full circle---it brings others and me a lot of joy, I love sharing it with all of you. It’s our way of giving back what all our friends and family have given us.
My circle is the symbol of wholeness and unity...I'm overflowing.