Family Traditions

I grew up in a small steel town northwest of Pittsburgh. Most of the Italian families I knew made homemade wine and mine was no different. My Grandfather even grew his own grapes. No matter what the occasion was or which family’s house we were in, there was always wine on the table.

My own making wine story began about 15 years ago. Having moved across the country to California, and although wine was plentiful here, I missed having that glass of homemade with dinner and friends. Quite often the airlines found me transporting gallons of wine back from family visits. This sufficed until my father became a little older, making less wine every year. Not wanting this family tradition to be forgotten, I decided to take my children, Matthew and Cara back to Pennsylvania and let them see how Grandpa made his wine.

My parents, Mario and Rose, showed the kids how to crush the grapes, press the mash, and transfer the wine to the barrels. Start to finish, even sampling the juice at each stage.
It wasn’t all work, especially when Cara asked Grandma how they mashed the grapes in the “olden days”. My mom was glad to oblige her with her own tub of grapes to stomp with her feet! It was fun to see my dad joking with the kids, have them open the mash barrel to take a deep breath just like when I was little.

We have been making wine ever since, and that familiar bottle of homemade wine is at all of our gatherings. My dad has since passed away; my kids are older now and have little time to spend helping me make wine. Their appreciation for what they were able to experience will come with maturity. My children got to experience an integral part of their family heritage that they’ll never forget. Maybe when they move away they too will take some of Dad’s homemade wine after a visit. And someday they too will bring their kids to see how Grandpa makes his wine.

Name: Anthony Ulizio
State: ca

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