Of Wild Boar and Sweet Grapes

Posted by Kitara Julian On 10:12 AM

More tales from our five-month housesitting in Tuscany in a region where the famous and costly Brunello wine originates. There is a small window of time when hunting is allowed in the autumn. Signor, the vintner we mentioned in Monday's post, had a rifle. At the edge of his vineyard was a dense Holm Oak forest, home to families of cinghiale (wild boar). The boars love the acorns.
In the middle of the night they would sneak out of the forest --- dark silhouettes. Papa boar, Mama boar, and all the little boars. The ‘spring-offs’ would follow Papa and Mama boar, all in a neat line. Stealthily they’d approach the vineyard, cautious at first, then boldly, to feast on the grapes.
The Signor tried to scare off the cinghiale by playing a tape of loud music in the vineyards, all night, over and over. At first it worked, but the cinghiale soon got wise. Music or no music, they were not deterred from their escapades. One night I tried to approach them, but in a flash they ran back into the forest – tails up, straight as a flagpole!
Signor
was getting worried; these raids were a big problem. The summer was one of the hottest on record, with daytime temperatures around 40 C. A family of thirsty and ‘sweet-tusked’ cinghiale can go through a lot of grapes.
What to do? Take turns doing a watch, like on board a ship? But all hands were needed on deck for work in the daytime. There had to be a way to keep the marauders out if the vintners wanted a harvest this summer.
Then it occurred to me - - Signor had a rifle. Why not make a recording of rifle bangs and booms? At least Mama and Papa boar were old enough to know what that noise meant. After a loud ‘Si’, ‘No’ debate, it was agreed. They gave it a try.
The farmhouse villa where I stayed was situated closer to the vineyard than Signor and his family, so I didn’t get much sleep, hearing those loud bangs all night. I preferred the taped music myself, but the bangs and booms were not music to the ears of the cinghiale. It worked! This way everyone was assured of another harvest of wine. Cheers, Henri

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