Italy says grape harvest: no grazie

The grape harvest in Italy this year, said to be a small but good vintage, may wilt on the vine because no one wants to do the work.

Sicilian mayor Calogero Trupiano predicts empty vineyards because of a labor shortage — a serious threaten to the Italian wine industry, accountable for more than 20 percent of worldwide wine production.

Granted, grape harvesting is no picnic. Workers rise at dawn to avoid the worst of the late-summer heat and spend a long day bending over vines with pruning shears and hauling heavy, grape-laden baskets for processing.

“I did it once, thinking it was an easy way to pick up extra money,” Marco Paoletti told zoomata. “Never again. It was grueling work. There were ten-hour days with only a break for bread and cheese, you need serious stamina.”

In recent years, fewer Italians have been willing or interested in the job and the immigrant labor force has stepped in where locals bowed out: no more, says the mayor. Trupiano fears the grapes may turn sour on the vine because despite quotas that help bring in foreign workers for field work, not even they are willing to spend 45 days in the fields to earn total wages of around 2,000EUR.

Italians are drinking less wine than ever — about half as much as they did in the 1950s — raising concern that a symbol of the country may go by the wayside. In an effort to raise an interest in dying traditions, last year a town near Naples held three days of back-to-basics lessons on the fall harvest, including a grape-stomping workshop for kids.?1999-2004 zoomata.com
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Related resources:
Ready to give grape picking a try? Get hooked up with the Italian branch of Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WOOF)….
www.wwoof.it