September from the Hours of Henry VIII

Picking grapes, then pressing them before barelling them to make wine.
September labor: wine production from Morgan Library MS. H8 f.4v

Just about anywhere in Europe that could grow grapes in the Medieval era, did (and does). Tasks associated with wine-making, like pruning the vines and pressing the grapes to produce juice, are often featured in books of hours as the labor of September. It’s the labor depicted in the September page of the the Morgan Library’s Hours of Henry VIII. This picture shows the complete wine making process from picking to barreling. It is still essentially the same process followed today.

The Morgan Library notes the gendered division of labor. In the background women sitting on the ground pick the grapes. This is more accurately described as cutting the grape clusters from the vine. A man standing near them with a large slightly awkwardly balanced basket on his back is waiting to bring a basket of grapes to the shed in the foreground. Inside the shed, another man with a similar basked is in the act of adding the grapes from his basket to a waiting vat, functioning as a wine press. Across from him, a man treading the grapes to release their juice is in fact pressing grapes, and has a smaller basin of juice he is adding to the immense barrel functioning as a fermentation tank.

At the base of the giant tank is a tap, with a barrel poised to receive juice, before being sealed and joining its peers stacked to the left, to be stored and aged. Notice the way the barrels are designed to tilt in the basin created to host them as they are being filled; this is solid, proven technology