No Idle Hands

Late-season grapes rotting on the vine

Of course, all around thriftiness always encouraged the profitability of any ancient vineyard of any era:

"When the weather is bad and no other work can be done, clear out manure for the compost heap; clean thoroughly the ox stalls, sheep pens, barnyard and farmstead; and mend dolia with lead, or hoop them with thoroughly dried oak wood. If you mend it carefully, or hoop it tightly, closing the cracks with cement and pitching it thoroughly, you can make any jar serve as a wine jar (dolium vinarium)." (Cato, On Agriculture XXXIX).

Many vintners avoided the expense of building and maintaining a winepress simply by renting access to one owned by a local landlord during their harvest period. Others kept just a minimal slave work-force, preferring to hire local part-time labor on an as-needed basis: late summer for grapes and grain, winter for olives.