When Autumn comes, it is time to harvest and to collect olives. Once, in our countryside after the harvest, the rents had to be paid, and if the harvest was scarce, the farmers had to move.
A palette of colors
The colors are so special during this period: the hills that surround the town of Montefalco are cultivated with the Sagrantino wine variety, a multi-awarded DOCG red wine. The beauty of Sagrantino explodes in the colors of its vineyard: at a distance, they seem to be mainly red; but if we go closer, we can note that the leaves have taken the whole palette of autumn colors, ranging from yellow to red, passing through the burgundy, and with shades of dark green. The Canadian maples have become a worldwide attraction for the magnificence of their autumn leaves: the vineyard of Sagrantino is no less beautiful, but at the moment it is little known. Compared to the others vine varieties, the leaves of the Sagrantino do not take on the sad and crumpled aspect of the vineyard that are bound to die, but they widen and seem to acquire a still summer vitality.
The olive harvest
Another important aspect of the Autumn in Umbria, is the social one, which consists in the ritual of bruschetta with the new olive oil. Many people in Umbria harvest olives, those with hundreds of trees and those with only a few dozen. Suddenly the fields are filled with nets stretched out under the trees to collect the falling fruits, because none must be lost. Those who have few plants still collecting by hand, those who have more trees collect with the electric beater, a kind of whisk that quickly drops all the fruits from the trees. Umbrian trees are small and hand harvest is still possible, even though the advantages of the new technologies are replacing ancient methods.
The smell of the milled olives
Fun begins here, at the olive oil mill, where you are greeted by large baskets full of black and green olives. You can hear the noise of the machines that are milling them, eventually the scent of the fresh olive oil with its intense flavors.At the olive oil mill you can start enjoying the new olive oil. «How many olives did you collect? How much does olive make this year?» These are the two fundamental questions that everyone exchanges. The collection varies from year to year, once it could be affected by the drought or too much rain. During other years, the flies arrive, another time, the frost ruins gems and trees. Nature owns a factor of uncertainty that cannot be ignored or avoided.
Christmas arrives early
Between a chat and another, you can taste the new olive oil. All the olive oil mills in the area of Gualdo Cattaneo have a room with a fireplace, with fresh bread and a bottle filled directly in the mill.The olive oil is still a little dense, not transparent, perfumed with fresh fruits, it is poured slowly on the bread called bruschetta. Then you taste it and it is a wonderful sensation. This is not only for the quality of the olive oil, as it comes after, but, above all, it is important to be together, to discover, with curiosity, the magic of the new season. It is a bit like at Christmas, with the difference that it does not last only a day, but a whole month.