Traveling on US Airways this week, I ran across a great article about the few remaining Quintas in Portugal that still make their port wine in the traditional way, with the foot treading phase an integral and irreplaceable element to the resulting wine.
Grape pickers are allowed the opportunity to earn some extra money in the evenings, by stepping into the lagares, or the troughs where grapes ferment. The first few hours are regimented, almost like a galley ship from the 1600s, with a foreman clocking time with alternating “Left!” “Right!” “Left!” “Right!”
The last hours the fun breaks out, as well as the wine and music: “…some 20 people, young and old, men and women, local peasants and visiting students, are immersed thigh-deep in a purple sludge, known better as grape must.” (See full article here.)
Suddenly I really wanted a nice port wine. The respect for tradition, the centuries of knowledge working the grapes, the realization that to date, no machine can replicate the complexity of foot treading.
And then I thought, “Feet? Feet????” Wait, what, those workers come in from the fields and hop into the grapes? Is there a trough to wash off in first? Is there a pedi specialist to clean things up first? Then take a closer look at that picture above. “Thigh-deep”. That is awful close to some private areas… and I WILL not develop that line of thought any further!
Here is a great video by Jamie Goode of www.wineanorak.com. Hop right in and tread!