Modena is famous for its balsamic vinegar. Nowhere else will you be able to produce the same quality because nowhere else will you find the same soil, bacteria, climate (hot summers and cold winters), variety of grapes (e.g. trebbiano and grasparossa) and traditional (and specific) know-how to make this amazing vinegar.
Some of the vines
I know that I wouldn't be able to leave Modena without seeing for myself how the locals make the vinegar. Certo you can visit the balsamic vinegar museum or any of the numerous factories producing the vinegar to have an idea, but somehow I didn't feel that it would be the same.
The woman who owns all those grapes
LP's parents make their own balsamic vinegar. They even started growing their own grapes for it about 3 years ago. When I heard that they would be harvesting their first batch of grapes this year, I begged to come along to help out. I'm that city girl who finds it fun to spend the morning picking grapes and the afternoon cleaning out the muddy boots. Only if it happens once in a blue moon, of course.
The enthusiastic grape picker
It was fun. Lovely sunny morning, they had quite a large plot of land on several levels so the walk alone was tiring. And we didn't have enough garden shears to work with at the beginning and had to fight for the honour of using those available. There were 2 types of grapes to harvest : trebbiano bianco and grasparossa (the same that goes into making lambrusco) and both were delicious eaten as they were.
This cutie doesn't work, he only eats grapes
Babinou was particularly enthusiastic about the picking. Babinette, lazy as usual, spent her time looking after LP's little dog. I did my bit, cutting one finger without knowing it and was stung in another by a wasp hidden in a bunch of grapes. Proof of my hard work? :-)
I've really enjoyed the morning and look forward to being invited to the next step in the vinegar-making process : boiling the grapes.
And I am still waiting for some Modenese family to offer me a bottle of their precious vinegar...(hint hint)