As a young man Giuseppe worked with his brothers and cousins to harvest the grapes. It was usually the end of September, still some heat in the afternoon. Paolo from the village came up the hill in his ancient lorry and they loaded the grapes into the back. The vehicle trundled back down to the ‘cantina’ where the grapes would be cleaned, sorted and mixed with others from the area. In a good year the end result was a drinkable table wine that lasted the locals through to the next harvest. In a bad year the wine was used in cooking and to brighten up the winter feed of the cows.
Now Giuseppe watched as his grand children collected the grapes. There was a chair strapped to the trunk of an ancient tree. It was his chair. He had a view and shade from the sun. He liked sitting here observing the vines. The plants were different now it was Merlot, Cabernet and Pinot Noir. The grapes were processed and blended by some ‘fancy pants’ wine expert from Milan. He’d actually seen a bottle of his own Pinot-Merlot blend on a wine list in the trattoria for €25. Incredible he thought, €25 for a bottle of wine. In the old days neighbours paid a few lire for a litre, or it was free because they gave eggs or olive oil in exchange. No money changed hands.
His grandsons called it progress. Giuseppe thought it was ‘daylight robbery’. Sat in his chair the shadows started to lengthen, he found himself drifting, half asleep. He heard Paolo’s lorry coming up the hill. But that couldn’t be true Paolo died years ago and the lorry was scrapped. He opened his eyes to see Alessandro, his oldest grandson walking towards him smiling and waving a bottle. Nonno he shouted, we’ve won, we’ve done it, our wine earned a gold medal in Rome. We can start exporting now. This wine will be on the table of a restaurant in New York. They say it will sell for $100—a bottle. Giuseppe smiled and nodded. He closed his eyes again, now he knew for sure what he’d suspected for some time. The world had finally gone mad.
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