Happy first week of Fall! Even though we aren't ready to let go of summer, Fall is moving in with its cooler weather. This month's newsletter is focused on the vendemmia (grape harvest) in Italy (that we're missing...sniff, sob), as well as ideas for fresh figs!
Autumn is a special time to be in Italy and we love sharing the vendemmia with our guests on our Fall tours. Whether driving through Tuscany, Puglia or Piedmont, we see the heavy purple bunches of grapes hanging on the vines. Workers stoop to handpick each bunch and tractors, overflowing with grapes on their way to the winery, often block the roads. The cantina is a-buzz with activity. The smell of the crushed grapes and first fermentation hangs in the air and stays with you. In the midst of this activity, the tasting wines from previous years gives you an appreciation for the Italians’ long tradition of wine making. While we know we have many years ahead of us to share with you the vendemmia in Italy, it is difficult not to be there this year.
We are beginning to transition from summer to fall and wanted to share our favorites red wines to do that! Both nebbiolo and pinot nero are perfect; not too heavy for fall and Indian summer, but hearty enough to pair with autumn dishes. Read on below for more information on these wines!
Figs are still plentiful in the markets here and we really love them - to eat fresh, have with an aperitivo or make jam to enjoy later! Gina shares her fig jam recipe below. Figs in Italy are everywhere but a little less common in the US, which is a shame because they are a delicious fruit that should be better known. Trader Joe’s seems to have a great supply from California, so check it out. In Italy it seems everyone has their own tree and you will rarely see them for sale in the store. Include them on your appetizer plates this season, each fresh half wrapped with prosciutto. Or stuff them with goat cheese, wrap them with a nice fatty pancetta and warm them for 10 minutes in the oven. Delicious and easy!

Buon appetito!
Gina and Mary