June 29, 2011

Saving The Family Farm

As mentioned earlier, I’m staying at a rented home in the Tuscan countryside that is part of a working winery.  In talking with the owner, while giving me a cooking lesson on the intricacies of true Italian Tiramisu, she explained that this farm has been in her husband’s family for generations.  Back in the late 1990’s though the farm wasn’t generating enough income to sustain itself so she came up with the idea to remove some of the crops that weren’t yielding what they had hoped and she replaced those with olive trees and wine grapes.   Now, nearly 11 years later, the farm is flourishing.  The family still plants wheat, semolina, and sunflowers – all of which are sold domestically, but they now also sell their olive oil and wine throughout Europe.   Unfortunately they don’t yet sell to the United States so I’m planning to bring back my 2Liter per person limit of wine and olive oil.

I realize that other people’s vacation photos are never that exciting to someone else but if you want to take a look I have a few pictures of the winery and the surrounding countryside:

This is the commercial name of the winery and olive oil company.  As you can see, there is a web address if you’d like to go check it out yourself!

This is the barrel room that’s located underneath the house we’re staying in.  Since the house is a remodeled farm house, the space beneath the house was where the cows, goats, and other livestock used to sleep.   Now it holds wine!

This is a picture of some wine that was bottled about a month ago.  The amazing thing about this winery is that all of the work is done by hand.  The grapes are cut by hand, processed (apparently though they do not in fact step on the grapes because it bruises the skin too much!), bottled by hand, and then labeled by hand.  The winery produces 20,000 bottles per year – a syrah, a merlot, and a blend – so that’s no small task for a small family-run winery!

I took this picture this morning on a walk as I love all the happy sunflowers that are just starting to peak.  So beautiful!