Saturday, September 22, 2007

Mommy, where does wine come from?

My 8-year-old daughter asked this question at dinner the other night. She wasn't satisfied with my answer (the grocery store), so my Italian husband filled her in on the wine-making process. He's not a wine expert, by any means. His wine I.Q. is average--for an Italian. Which is waaaaay above my wine I.Q.

The reason my daughter asked this question is because her 3rd grade teacher had planned a field trip to a local village where they'd be participating in a vendemia--a grape harvest. Our daughter informed us (with that What-kind-of-parents-are-you? look on her face) that every child in her class had attended a vendemia, except for her. I just hope no one calls Social Services.

So yesterday the class went and learned how wine is made. They cut the grapes from the vines, tossed them in big buckets, removed their shoes and socks, and started squishing. (My daughter reports that this was both icky and fun at the same time). After the last of the grape juice was washed off of their 8-year-old toes, they heaped the grape-y mess onto sieves, then tasted the grape juice that filtered through. My daughter isn't clear as to whether they actually drank the juice that their bare (and who knows how clean?) feet had touched. I kind of hope not.

The whole class filed off the field trip bus happy and tired, each child toting a bag of small, purple grapes that taste like sweet dessert wine. The teacher carried two bottles of wine (unopened) in her arms. After a day of wine-making with 25 third-graders, I suspect those bottles came in handy.


Edna said...

Kewl story, Natalie! Last week, I did a hula gig for Barefoot Winery in Modesto (now part of the mega Gallo wine family) and I was given a short tour around the Gallo campus. My host told me that Earnest and Julio Gallo first learned to make wine from a pamphlet provided by a librarian. Gallo is proud of their humble beginnings and to this day they are very generous supporters of libraries.

I was also told that feet provide the perfect pressure for grapes, so the folks at Barefoot Winery use these specially-made, uber expensive bladders for mechanical "stomping." Perhaps it's faster and a more sanitary, but it's definitely not as fun as stomping the way your daughter did!

:-) Edna

TinaFerraro said...

Thanks so much for sharing that! Can-you-imagine that happening in the states? A class of 8 year-olds making wine, and the teacher leaving with two bottles?!?

As contrast, here in California, when my oldest was 6, he brought home a sheet of paper from his public school, which he was to ask his parents to sign, stating that we did not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, or if we did, we would consider quitting. This was accompanied by a memorized lecture from him, about the dangers.

I probably don't have to tell you how I felt about that, and how my husband and I countered with a lecture on moderation and the Italian way of life...

I imagine the teacher/school system heard from a lot of parents because that form, to my knowledge, was never sent home again!

Danette Haworth said...

What a wonderful field trip. I, too, think it would feel weird having those grapes squish between my toes.

Katia said...

How totally wonderful ! Your daughter will have such a great memory of that day, I'm sure.
I really opened big eyes when I read Tina's account of the letter they received from the school. I'm glad to read that parents reacted to that. Come on ! I don't smoke, and definitely don't qualify as a heavy drinker - even if I like my glass of wine from time to time - but, can I decide what's good for myself without any outside interference, thanks very much ?
Natalie, I added a section for expat blogs on my blog and would like to add a link to yours. Let me know if it's OK.

Natalie said...


Interesting about the Gallo wine family--who knew?? And speaking of not knowing things...are you really a hula dancer? Wow!


I can't believe the school would send such a note home to parents! I remember my 4th grade teacher launching a campaign to get the kids to convince their parents to stop smoking (we even got extra credit if we succeeded). When we had her over for dinner at the end of the year, she lit up a cigarette after dinner!

Hi Danette,

I thought the squishing sounded kinda fun, too!

Hi Katia,

Of course you can add my blog to your ex-pat blog list...thanks for thinking of me! In Italy, the no drinking thing would never go over with parents, although it sounds like it wouldn't go over well anywhere...Utah, maybe??

edna said...

Hey Natalie,

Yep, I'm really a hula dancer! Here's something I just came across on YouTube of my hula sisters and I dancing a hula to a Tony Bennett song...

FYI, we are with Halau Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu of San Francisco, CA.


Christy Lenzi said...

How fun! I may have to go to one of the grape stomp festivals around here sometime.

Edna, we live near Modesto! Wished I'd known about your hula gig....

carla said...

of course I loved this one.... I am the teacher with the wine in her arms... bet you can-t wait until we bottle the stuff we made!

Natalie said...

Wonderful video, Edna! Any plans for a hula picture book in your future?

Thanks for stopping by Christy. :-) And yes, if you have the chance to go grape-stomping, go for it!

Ciao Carla! Yes, Carla is my daughter's wonderful teacher, for those who don't know. :-) And in the spring, when third graders around the world are bringing home hand-made Mother's Day gifts, I'll look forward to my daughter's feet-made bottle of wine. :-)