My mother’s cousin Giacomo (“James”) is the last living connection I have to my maternal grandmother. For a time in the early 40’s he and Frances lived in the same house on Julian Street and shared many familial moments.
His father went on to acquire massive allotments of land in the Johnson area – one of which Cousin James still calls home. In addition to providing him shelter, the property serves as both his personal vineyard (now open to the public) and commercial wine-making operation, where he produces some of New England’s most full-bodied, award-winning vino.
Each year it is my pleasure to make like an itinerant worker for the day and help harvest the season’s grapes, for pressing at his estate. All those present from approximately 12:00-5:00, regardless of the amount of work they may have contributed, are then treated to an impressive luncheon spread, served al-fresco under the elms.
There are tomato salads with fresh mozzarella, stuffed peppers, pasta dishes hot and cold, frittata (thick potato omelette) and an array of gravy-drenched flesh. As might be expected at a gathering such as this, as soon as the first bottled is uncorked, the wine doesn’t stop flowing (until that is the jolliest of the mix finally decides to walk away). Despite the fact that aside from bakery pizza and crusty rolls there is not much for a weirdo like myself to eat, it is a joyous day.
Yesterday was that day – I still have the cramped hands and stained cuticles of a Phoenician to serve reminder. Fortunately for the clarity of my mind, like all Verde Vineyard’s offerings, the case of 2011 vintage St. Croix that was busted out for the post-harvest festa, was not treated with sulfites. Salut(e), cent’ anni.