Our time in Slovakia is evaporating quickly, just as the weather changes and hints of Fall appear. One unmistakable symbol of the season is the wine harvest. In Chl’aba, there are two “museums” -- one for the history of the village, and one for winemaking, one of the most common activities of villagers. Gabriela’s mother makes wine every year, and this year is no exception.
However, like so many other environmentally sensitive activities, winemaking seems to have become more difficult in recent years. One villager noted that the harvest used to be in late October, but now it may come in early September. And this year's harvest was small, a victim to poor weather conditions and a hungry jazvec (pronounced YAZ-vets, the English equivalent would be a badger) who repeatedly dug under the fence to sample the wares.
Nonetheless the harvest went on. Grape clusters were clipped from the vines. They were crushed in the driveway and the new wine was stored in the same cellar that Gabriela’s family hid in during World War II. The last time we participated in the harvest was at least five years ago, with Gabriela’s father enthusiastically showing us the ropes. Now his absence colored the proceedings, lending a melancholy note to the early Fall ritual.
Here are a few photos from the harvest. Wherever you are, please raise a glass in appreciation of this village tradition.