The Four Seasons of my Earlier Years: Autumn, grapes and wine

The wine and the grapes were a full job for the entire family. Vrancea, the region where I was born, is considered to be the first wine producer in Romania. The funny thing is that the famous wine is produced in the hill area and not in the plain where my village is. Therefore I have not enjoyed the taste of those famous grapes and wines in my earlier years. Because of the natural conditions and climate, we grew a sort of ordinary grape vines in my village. They were grapes for wine and the wine was of simple taste and flavour. Despite that, people used to say that their wine was healthier and better than the famous wine produced in the vineyards some 50 km away. To be honest I did not like our wine, but I grew up with the belief that what people said is true.

My father managed to accommodate a sort of grape vines coming from the hills. They were not meant specifically for wine, but for eating. They were our “delicious food” from late autumn to Christmas.

Producing the wine was a sophisticated and complicated job. There were black, red and white grapes. We needed to place them in the grape crusher separately to avoid damaging the wine colours and flavours. My father and grandfather made themselves the tools needed to process the grapes, the recipients to store the wine and pass it through all the needed stages to finally get it matured. My brother and myself were in charge of preparing the wine recipients.

My family used wood barrels to store the wine. As soon as a barrel got empty, in spring, we removed the metallic circles, which kept the wood barrel staves together. We scrubbed each stave with a special powder, run a lot of water on the staves and place them in the sun to let them dry. When dried, my grandfather put the staves back together recomposing the barrel. I remember he placed slices of cattail between staves to ensure they stay together well and no wine could leak out. I also recall that when the barrel was back, my father used to place a little piece of solid sulphur and with a matchstick made it burn to make sure that the recipient is proper, does not preserve any old smell and is ready to accommodate the new wine in the autumn.

In the middle of fall, the last days of October, we celebrated the Harvest Day, a day where all families in the village proudly introduced their crops and the wine to their visitors.

My parents testing a new wine with our relatives in 1962

My parents testing a new wine with our relatives in 1962

In autumn we also prepared the winter provisions. Our house had a big storage room and a cellar underneath. All the provisions were well organised and labelled accordingly. When we handled the provisions’ recipients we were told to put them back in the same place to avoid messing around. Discipline was the golden rule of the house.

Both the cellar and the storage room had a special place for the pork meat, which was always available shortly before Christmas.

I always helped with the pickles, drying fruits and vegetables. The flour was my brother’s responsibility, who periodically went to the flourmill with wheat and corn to get corn and wheat flour in return. I used to help him because I liked watching the huge strong stones doing the job of turning the grains into the flour powder. Our sisters were in charge of the fruit jam and plum marmalade as well as of all types of processed tomato handmade products.

What I liked the most in autumn was the joy our parents shared around. It was the joy of getting their reward for their work from early spring to late autumn. Seeing everything in the right place, under one roof, they made sure that the family could make it over the winter. We also perceived a kind of “safety” feeling as, very often, our grandparents used to compare the current situation of those times with the post-war famine. They always thanked God for taking care of us.

More articles in English

08.11.2013 The Four Seasons of my Earlier Years: Autumn Flavours and Weddings

03.11.2013 The Four Seasons of my Earlier Years: One can’t judge a book by its cover

30.10.2013 My path to learning French

24.10.2013 The Four Seasons of my Earlier Years: The Bitter Taste of My Summers

17.10.2013 The Four Seasons of my Earlier Years: My Spring

14.10.2013 The Four Seasons of my Earlier Years: Winter Customs and Traditions (2)

11.10.2013 The Four Seasons of my Earlier Years: Winter Customs and Traditions (1)

02.10.2013 A culture of measuring twice and cutting once: Early years (Part 2)

20.09.2013 A culture of measuring twice and cutting once: Early years (Part 1)

08.09.2013 How and where to start: The beginning


31.10.2013 Mon chemin vers le français


06.11.2013 Către Barbados, insula fără ape curgătoare: Plecarea spre Londra

04.11.2013 Către Barbados, insula fără ape curgătoare: Vestea cea mare

27.10.2013 Glasgow: La porțile nordului

25.10.2013 Puerto Rico, perla din inima Mării Caraibilor

20.10.2013 Libertatea și plăcerea de a călători peste mări și țări

15.09.2013 Cum am învățat să citesc și de ce am fost pedepsit să citesc cărți de colorat

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9 Responses to The Four Seasons of my Earlier Years: Autumn, grapes and wine

  1. Petrea Spanu says:

    Idilic. … Dar frumos. :-). “Discipline was the golden rule of the house”…;-) Îhî! Da, da! În ce tara spuneati ca v-ati nascut?

  2. petrudumitru says:

    Multumesc pentru vizita si comentariu. Contrar obiceiurilor mai mult sau mai putin culturale, disciplina era regula la noi in casa…

  3. ionel balosu says:

    Buna! Poate parea idilic, dar totul este real. Parca sunt amintirile mele si ale multor romani…Succes in continuare!

    • petrudumitru says:

      Salut, Ioane și mulțumesc pentru vizită și comentariu. Poate Petrică Spânu are dreptate, există o notă idilică în tot articolul, poate și pentru că e parte a amintirilor mele despre acei ani. Cred că amintirile în sine se “idilizează” o dată cu trecerea anilor și poate de aceea ni le “amintim” pentru că au acest grăunte idilic.

      Mulțumesc de urări și aceleași gânduri bune și vouă

      • Petrea Spanu says:

        Adevarat este ca, si pentru mine, amintirile din vremurile “cand eram mai tinar si la trup curat” par a se scalda intr-o aura idilica. Una peste alta, este foarte frumos ca ai pus in cuvinte ceea ce ai simtit si marturisesc ca m-am simtit destul de miscat. Apreciez ideea de a posta poze foarte vechi. Multa sanatate si toate cele bune!

      • petrudumitru says:

        Multumesc, Petrica! Articolele acestea sunt un fel de “intoarcere acasa” pentru un moment, cu ajutorul cuvintelor. Si voua numai bine!

      • Petrea Spanu says:

        Pe cand adevarata intoarcere acasa …cu alt ajutor decat al cuvintelor?

  4. petrudumitru says:

    Doar o data pe an, din pacate, si mai ales vara. Anul trecut am vazut-o pe Mia, fiindca tot m-am nimerit pe la CEC ca sa platesc taxe pentru pasapoarte. Suntem romani buni si ne reinnoim pasapoartele atunci cand sunt pe cale de expirare. Tinem legatura si poate ne vedem in cateva luni. Cele bune!

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