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Published: September 14th 2003
This type makes white wine.
I’ve drunk a lot of wine
in my time, but being from a rainy northern European country the opportunity to be involved in the creation of it hasn’t been around. For Hungarians making (and drinking) wine is part of everyday life, nearly everyone has a small vineyard in the family or has a close friend or neighbour who does. My girlfriend’s uncle has a vineyard, just a small one, in Vas county.
Every autumn the grapes have to be collected, crushed and the resulting liquid pumped into barrels to ferment. To get the grapes picked, everyone needs to get involved, the neighbours, friends, and family spend a whole day collecting the grapes. What do the neighbours and friends get out of it? Well, a lot of wine.
An early start on a misty September morning and a drive to the vineyard. About 20 people in all had arrived to help out. I get introduced to everyone and notice that I’m getting introduced as Sanyi (pronounced Shoni). I’ve been given a proper Hungarian name after explaining that Ali is short for Alistair which is the Scottish form of Alexander, which then becomes Sandor the Hungarian form of Alexander, and then re-shortened
The guys at work.
Zoli, Palcsi, ..., Attila
to Sanyi. Apparently everyone is happier when people have proper names. I like it, makes me feel accepted, and I get a second birthday on March 18th as well.
After breakfast, everyone gets given a job, I get to be the "puttony" guy, I get to put on a wooden backpack and walk up and down the hill carrying the grapes. I get told that this is the worst job, and that Sari’s Dad got given this when he first collected grapes about 30 years ago (the vineyard is on the Sari’s Mum’s side of the family I think I’m treading in someone’s footsteps, Sari is my girlfriend if you didn’t guess). The other jobs are, cutting the grapes off the vines, operating the thing that separates the grapes and stems, and manning the press. Unfortunately no crushing the grapes with feet, I was looking forward to this. The cutters get to talk to everyone, tell jokes, the separator operators get to rest quiet a lot and the guy on the press is the wine expert. My job "puttony"-ing is good get to see everything that is happening, talk to everyone and grab some wine and food every
When I was still dry.
time I get to the little house with the cellar and press. The backpack is fairly heavy but after a year of carrying everything I own on the road with me I’m pretty used to it and don’t find it a problem. Gradually I find out the down side, the grape juice starts seeping through my clothing and soaks my jumper, trousers and even my underwear. No wonder nobody likes this job.
I slosh up and down the hill a few more times, just as we stop for lunch the guys on the separator notice that I’m soaked. I’m not meant to be soaked the backpack is leaking. I thought that this was why the job was the worst and so didn’t say anything.
After lunch I’m given a new job of cutting grapes. Everyone is drinking wine, enjoying themselves, chatting, eating grapes and drinking fresh grape juice (rather than bathing in it), all whilst collecting the grapes. It really doesn’t feel like work, but at the end of the day, after a shower to remove the remains of the grape juice, I realise how tired I am. Everyone in the house is snoring by ten o’clock.
Sari's Uncle Pali.
the wine Sari’s uncle has to work on it most weekends of the year, checking things that I don’t know about and tending the growing vines for the next years crop. But the results are worth it, the pride of knowing you made it yourself and having as much wine as the family can drink for the next year.
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