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Winemakers get help from the EU to stay competitive July 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Business, Drinks & Beverages.

It was the first harvest of the new millennium, yet little seemed to have changed since the Greeks and Romans tended vines here in the flatlands of Puglia, the heel of boot-shaped Italy.

Local women converged on the vineyards to handpick the grapes as had generations before them. Laborers carried wooden buckets laden with fruit across the reddish sands of the vineyards to waiting tractors, one of the few signs of modern times. > Winemakers get help from the EU to stay competitive

But change was very much on Sergio Botrugno’s mind for that 2000 vintage, and he knew his octogenarian father, Romolo, wouldn’t like it. “I knew he would get angry, so I asked him to stay at home,” the son recalls. “He showed up in the fields anyway and started swearing at me. He thought I had gone mad.”

Towering over the vines and the stooping women, the former pro-basketball player gave a near-sacrilegious order: Ignore most of the crop and harvest only the best for his family’s first bottled vintage. The reaction was sheer horror. “No, no, this one is good, we can use it,” a woman shrieked.

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