One of the things about coming to La Faula and making wine is the suffering involved with using each new piece of machinery and the epiphany when eventually one understands how it operates and can get it to function correctly. Today it was the turn of the bottle labeller. It would seem conceptually simple to stick one or two pieces of paper on a bottle but the reality is a series of permutations and computations made that leaves one utterly exhausted (and calling the technician!!). Without going into too much detail it is unbelievably complicated to get only one piece of paper on the front and one exactly centred on the back, all on the level, each perfectly adhering to the bottle without distortion, bubbles or crinkles!
The labeller was a display model used by our wine canteen supplies shop so it arrived without instructions. We didn’t ask for them (mistake!). The technician made it all seem so easy three months ago when it was delivered. But today when we finally got around to using it, it all seemed so impossible. We didn’t get it to work exactly perfectly but we did, finally, after sticking 10’s of labels up and down, front and back, all over the bottles and over each other, roughly understand how it worked. Tomorrow we hope to be able to report that we have managed to get it to perform flawlessly!
Yesterday, Luca went to our local Farmers Union and submitted a request to remove 1 hectare of our 4 hectares of vineyard (as an aside, in Italy - & I guess the whole European Union - one can’t touch a sliver of bark of a single vine plant without bureaucratic approval!). We decided to do this to allow Luca to dedicate more time to the Agriturismo which is always growing and to permit him to follow more closely that vineyard which we have. It is also true that we are not getting any younger and needed to create some margin in case one of us were to have an accident or get sick As things stand we do manage everything here at La Faula but we are more or less at the limit of what two people can reasonably do. We took the decision to remove the vines this last summer. Today we got a good export order for some wine. All in all the wine has been selling well. It’s emotionally scary to be proceeding to remove vineyard just as our wine is finding its market!!
The Photo of Today for today reminds me that around 15 years ago when Luca and I lived in London, on one of our Friday night visits to the cinema at Swiss Cottage, we saw an ad for Levis jeans that portrayed a settler family going west on their wagon through the mountains (this ad followed on that appalling one for Dolby cinema surround with its beating helicopter blades etc - but I digress). The family was dressed in faux ’Amish’ style, the parents severe and stoic in their suffering and their two daughters repressed but with a beauty that belied their restrictive costume. Passing a large pool the girls spy a naked hunk swimming alone. He exits the water and pulls on his tight jeans. All very suggestive. The reason that I remembered this advertisement was that at the time Luca whispered to me that Friuli was just like that. Without the naked hunks emerging from limpid waters and settler families going west, of course. But the mountains he said were the same. And so they are. If you saw that ad and remember it, today’s photos, I’m sure you will agree, could be of Colorado, the Rocky Mountains ....
The last of the red wine is pressed. Now begins the removal of the pressed skins and transport to the distillery and the deep clean of the wine cellar in preparation of our next job which is the bottling of last year’s wines! Between the closure of the agriturismo and the beginning of the harvest there are, maybe, two or three days of peace. For the rest ....!
The red wine is coming to the end of its fermentation and with that the ’harvest’ period now finishes and a calm descends upon La Faula! Now is the fun time of trips, visits and dinners. The dogs, however, are bored witless without guests and kids to entertain them. It’s almost impossible to move without being shadowed by two or three collies hoping upon hope that you will do something entertaining. Unfortunately, cutting wood and fixing the electric fences doesn’t rank high on the canine scale of excitement!
Luca has compared my re-jigging of the web-site Home Page rather unfavourably with the plant & garden websites that he visits regularly (I would say even obsessively!). Freddy our friend and occasional graphic designer has kindly said that it has no aesthetic aspect but he is sure that it works (is that a compliment?). It is true that in order to have a site that is alive with user-generated content (so far me but soon also you!) there is a bit of a trade-off on the graphic-perfect side. The site, which is in constant evolution, naturally tends to have a bit more of a home-made look. What do you think?
Our new Home Page is now on-line. The impetus for the change was the arrival of broadband at La Faula via the Three cell-phone network (actually, it's not really broadband but compared to what we had previously courtesy of good-old Telecom Italia - pigeons and all that - it seems rocket science) . The key part of the new home page will be 4 web-cam images which will eventually broadcast La Faula to the world. Normally the world comes to La Faula. We are going to return the compliment!
The harvest is finished. It has been - and seems that it will remain - a glorious autumn. The days are hot and sunny. It doesn't get much better really! Grape production was down, the plants and grapes having been impacted upon by the late, cold and wet spring. Those grapes that there were, however, were well mature, sweet and flavour-full. The white wines are already arriving at the end of the fermentation. The red wines are having the juice pumped-over the skins three times a day to extract colour, tannins and all those other things that go to make up a red wine.