The description of the yearly wine cycle begins observing the two elements that most characterise the Umbrian agricultural landscape: the dispersed habitat and the vine “married” to a tree; the latter is common both with trees that are dispersed or arranged in rows. This landscape is the result of economic necessity and the social aspects that sharecropping involved, its end initiated the current metamorphosis of the landscape, today increasingly characterised by specialised vineyards alternating with olive groves and monocultures. The path proposed by the museum takes on a dual form: swift and analytical. The viticultural cycle is accompanied by images, tools, graphics that show how the methods of cultivation remained unchanged until the 1960s.
St. George’s propitiatory pyres have come to us in Christian form, they are the synthesis of remote cults connected to the earth. The objects in the display cases evoke the uses and places of drinking.
Crushing. The run off stones to be found at the entrance of the museum take us back to the Roman technique: the carved stone slab was inserted in the front of the vat where the grapes crushing occurred, level with the lower edge of its floor’s slight slant; the resulting liquid flowed from the central hole into a collecting vat below. In hall I, a “campana” relief plate from the 1st century A.D. depicts two workers, hands in hands, in front of each other while intent on crushing the grapes, whirling at the sound of a flute providing the rhythm. In hall V we find photographs of a final, group trampling.
Pressing. Once crushed, the grapes were subjected to the double action of the wine press which extracted what juice was left. The monumental beam press, called Cato’s, evokes similarly equipped patrician and monastic wineries that, during the medieval age and beyond, concentrated the processing of grapes from the surrounding territory, attesting to an economic and social context. The press was a customary presence in Roman villas of the slave era and is evidenced by archaeological finds; the typology of the press evolved, together with the kind known as Pliny’s (vertical), twice represented here, which was in use beyond the mid 20th century.
The must fermented while settling in barrels, and in March it was then transferred to new, carefully washed barrels, free from any deposit that had by then gathered at the bottom of the barrels; these dregs were then pressed again, to obtain what was called “half wine” or “vinello”.
Reconstructing the operation of a distiller for convent use highlights the importance of distillation, spread across different contexts throughout the territory: empirically in the countryside, more technical when carried out in convents, apothecaries and manufacturing establishments.