The summer lingers on through September and our groups of Young Vines gather and form after the long holiday.
The grape harvest that started in early August is still in full swing. At the winery, the pneumatic grape press works solidly for hours on end, even into the night, in order to get through the day’s harvest while the grapes are at their freshest.
A week has gone by since our first meeting and we think that the children are ready for a new adventure.
Today we head straight up to the winery. Crates of grapes have been hand-picked and kept overnight in cold storage. This helps retain flavours and aromas which are lost if they are pressed warm. They are now loaded into the crusher destemmer and the children are lifted up to see the bunches being swallowed up and spat out the other end, denuded of their juicy grapes.
These have been carried off separately to be pressed. Next stop: the grape press.
The must flows out in a steady stream and once the children have tasted it, greedy hands reach for more. Eventually, they agree to head back to our hut by the ponds, satisfied and very sticky from all the grape juice. We fill a bottle to take home and make one of the seasonal delicacies: moustokouloura and moustalevria abound all over the country during harvest time and we are going to make some of our own.
On our way back through the vineyard, we pick and taste the grapes still hanging on the vines. Most are consumed along the way, however, back at the ponds, another surprise awaits us. A few crates of grapes have been piled by the old “lino”, our wooden press.
Shoes and socks are quickly discarded and the children pile in, some eagerly and others more cautiously as the grapes are thrown in under their bare feet. The sensation of cold squishy grapes is a delight to some but not all! A few children scramble out in horror but linger near to look on as their friends continue to tread. The juice comes trickling out of a spout, in stark contrast to the gush of must from the great steel bladder press at the winery!