Vedema, a wine fiesta
A 3.500 years winemaking tradition for people in Greece, a celebration for the senses and a unique product.
Vedema is an Italian word, mostly used in Santorini, referring to the local vine harvest, which takes place during August and the first days of September. Harvest begins in August, as high temperatures have an impact on grapes’ earlier ripeness which also depends on the past year’s climatic conditions. The grape picking goes along each vine, which have a white stone border for no line can be missed, beginning from the coastal vineyards of the island to the higher ones.
In the past, winemakers preferred hand-pickers to collect the grapes, in order to ensure a careful treatment of grapes when picking and placed into hampers. The whole village was involved in the vine harvest celebrations those days, as it was a very special occasion, carrying several local customs. Not only was a notable financial resource, but also a chance for people to entertain themselves on those hard years. One-time stepping out for girls to meet young men, donkeys carrying the grapes to the Canaves( wineries), people with naked feet pressing the grapes and Vedema songs playing, was the fiesta scenery. The smell of fresh basil that people put behind their ears helped them not feel dizzy while pressing the grapes and the pieces of cloth that they wore on their heads prevented the sweat from falling in the grape juice. They preferred the night time because of the lower temperature and this is how the Nychteri (meaning ‘working at night’) wine was named.
Nowadays, however they must determine if they prefer mechanical harvesting, for an effortless procedure considering though a possible damage of grape skin. After the grapes are carried to the Canaves the white and red varieties are immediately separated and put to stomping grounds in order to produce the grape juice, the must. A quantity of harvested grapes dry in the sun for 12-14 days before they are crushed and fermented in order to produce after at least 2 years, a dessert golden – orange wine, the Vinsanto wine.
The island still produces and offers worldwide exceptional wines for over 3,500 years and besides the unpredictability of nature, the financial hardships and the lack of water, Santorini wines rightfully deserve to be called wines of excellence.