Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer harvests

It's been a 24 hours I'll never forget. We're in the car driving to a small village called Plataniskia to attend a documentary festival. The blush of evening light has sculpted the sometimes brutally dry vistas with new depth. Lines of rare woodland turn the road we're on into a leafy tunnel, and as we shoot out, low-lying vineyards are revealed on our left. It's grape harvesting time and two men are working the vines, clipping huge clumps of small green grapes and layering them into plastic crates.

We pull over to check we're on the right road. I ask if I can try a grape. In reply, huge, generous bunches are cut and passed through the car window. They beckon me to come out and try cutting the grapes for myself. I'm laughing, they're laughing. The grapes are small and sweet.

The country's rich viticulture has been sustained for over 6000 years, far longer then anywhere else in the Mediterranean. However in the past two years, prolonged drought conditions have been disastrous for harvests. Apparently even the highest vines - the oldest - are being effected.

But to my eyes, the vines are heavy with grapes. Many village homes have little garden patios shaded with grape laden loggias. They are such a joy to see... The local wines are very pleasant! As is Cyprus' national spirit, zivania.... (made from the skins and seeds of the grapes, after they have been pressed for wine)! Ha!