Tag Archives: vineyards

picking

11 Oct
Ambroise emptying 'la hotte'

Ambroise emptying ‘la hotte’

Picking at last.

There’s been stops and starts… and now it’s all GO to get the grapes in.

We’re harvesting three weeks later than previous years, but it’s shaping up to be a pretty good ‘recolte’ … there’s a charged atmosphere and smiles all round.

I’ll fill you in on this harvest over a few posts, but here’s a selection of pics from today, in and out of our village.

(you may note some ‘fx’ in the images – my dear old camera is on the blink so what you see are the results of lumping around with a clunky electronic rectangle)

woke to to the noise of the harvester outside the kitchen window

woke to to the noise of the harvester outside the kitchen window

tent-picking

tent-picking

checking out the noise... a tractor cruising down the driveway

checking out the noise… a tractor cruising down the driveway

picking 1

pick cal1

here comes the sun

cal pick3

empty 2

empty 3

empty 4

cal 7

house on the prairie

pick cal 2Meanwhile, back in the village…

ca 4

chat arnaud

clearing out remains of the ‘pressoir’ (press)

ca 3

the Vigneron having a spray

the Vigneron having a spray

...and the ladies are still out checking the 'raisins'

…and the ladies are still out checking the ‘raisins’

 

Advertisements

allo allo – pics from the 2012 harvest

2 Nov

It’s Thursday and our turn poker night at our house.  The guys were insepcting the labels for a new wine of Benji’s that’s about to be bottled and then got stuck into drinking some others.

poker tonight

Inspecting Vincent’s labels for a new Benji wine coming soon, ‘Boulevard Napoleon’.  (and a thank you to monsieur p for your hand modelling work)

I was so excited, Benji put a great bottle of white in the freezer and I left them (wringing my hands in anticipation) in the kitchen as they sat down to play.  Half-an-hour later I reminded Benji about his bottle chilling and he held one up and said ‘Oh this one? It’s finished’.  My mouth dropped.  The scoundrels!

Comtes Lafon

Comtes Lafon MEURSAULT-GOUTTE D’OR 2009 Chardonnay

Time to come to the computer and vent some steam.

(I should admit I got to bring a twentieth of a glass of chardonnay with me – so generous of you fellas)

I’d been meaning to put up some long-overdue photos anyway.

So for you,  here’s a round-up of the 2012 grape harvest in our little area, the village of La Liviniere, in the Minervois region.  In our village alone, of approxiamtely 600 people, there are 16 vignerons (winemakers/vineyard owners producing their own brand) and about 150 viticulturalists processing their grapes with the local Cave Co-operative.

vineyards in Calamiac

It’s been a good harvest and people seem pretty happy about what they’ve picked – despite the kaleidoscope of weather.  Essentially, we had good rain, good sun, good wind and the vineyard owners and vignerons are happy to see their babies off the vines and in the tanks.

Gone for the moment the need to check on the weather patterns 24/7 and the worries of the wiles of Nature , it’s now time to work inside the cellars and nurture the juice.

While the viticulteurs take it easier, the vignerons need to keep up a a seven day working week.  It is now that crucial decisions, with their accompanying stress, need to be made regarding the precious juice and its management and development.

However, I can say that the general climate in our house is now pleasantly mild with fewer storms brewing on the front .

But not if the wine isn’t shared around.

calamiac harvest time

calamiac, harvest time

tractor

lunchtime break in the village

man, dog, harvester

morning rain in Calamiac

raining one afternoon…

sun over vines

…sunny the next

morning talk at harvester

morning chat by the harvester

lilas on the terrace

calamiac rainbow

lilas rainbow

the neighbouring vigneron's pickers

the neighbouring vigneron’s pickers

the alternative

…the alternative

lilas watching the harvester

watching the harvester from the house, early morning

harvester at home with clothes line

dry stone wall and vines

early morning calamiac

early morning, calamiac

sun over our vines

clouds and vines

allo allo – an update from the vines #2

5 Sep
happy vines in the Minervois

Happy vines in the Minervois, as far as the eye can see

It looks like the weather has very much picked up:  it’s sunny and blue-skied with cool, northerly winds to help dry out the vines.  The nights are fresh and the days warm and it’s forecast to stay like this for the week (we have the ‘meteo’ info on the computer here, updating 24/7!) which makes for a happy vigneron in the house.

This morning was particularly beautiful and there was a wonderful hum in our area today – of expectation, new starts and industry.  The sky was clear, children all went back to school and many of the grape growers were beginnng their harvest.

our garden this morning

The weather's going to be fine today!

our apple tree

our apples are ready for the picking

happy walkers

happy walkers

I can’t begin to tell you how much the atmosphere changes around here once people begin to pick their grapes.  A whole year’s work and energies culminate in this event and the villages are charged with excitement.

As for any farmer about to harvest, the weather reports are extremely important at this time of year.  Any dodgy behaviour – hail, rain, extreme heat – can disturb or destroy the whole year’s work.  Stressful times indeed, until all those babies are in, safe in their presses or tanks.

I’ve often pondered this while picking grapes (and how much time you have to ponder!) as looks of stress etched themselves on Benji and his vineyard managers’ faces as the skies filled with ominous storm clouds.  But for me, these ideas of vulnerability for the poor grapes were quickly erased by the more exciting idea of ditching secateurs and having the rest of the day off.  Maybe even the next day off too!  Outrageously WRONG!!!

It wasn’t until I was following a small tractor today, loaded with white grapes, that I fully understood the joy for the growers finally taking their kiddies to their cellars.

off to the cave with the white grapes

following a tractor heading back to the cave with a load of white grapes

Bring on the harvest!

happy vines in the region

Minervois vineyards

allo allo – an update from the vines

2 Sep
yesterday morning

Morning light over the neighbour's vines across the road

the vineyards with our olive trees in the foreground

The vineyards with our olive trees in the foreground

Who would have thought, with this beautiful, serene morning…

That by evening we’d have a huge storm with some of the loudest ‘tonnerre’ (thunder) I’ve ever heard.

It was suddenly POURING with rain in the strangest directions, the rain lashing at the window before me while I was chopping at the kitchen bench and Lilas asked me if I thought we’d have an ‘inondation’ (flood).

‘Umm, I don’t think so sweetie!??!!!’  .Not necessarily such a big exaggeration either.  We had a huge flood in the Minevois in 1999, and I’d only been explaining it to her a few days earlier.

Pretty strange weather, but hopefully not that strange.

last night 1

looking over at the neighbour's last night

path leading up to the Montagnes Noires

It didn’t flood,  but we had about 30mm of water.  Not a great thing for the vines at this time of year.  The grape bunches are now so big and  beautiful – and almost there!  It’s humid too, so not a great combination.  The last thing the vineyards want is to rot.

Our friend at dinner last night mentioned the story of a vineyard in Burgandy, where she witnessed a helicopter hovering over a rain-drenched vineyard, fanning it dry!  Those Burgundians.

last night 3

looking over to the neighbours' houses in our hamlet

last night 5

...it's starting to clear at least

Not quite the decadence of Burgandy here.  Benji’s hoping for some good old fashioned wind and keeping the ‘soucis’ (worries) at bay with a little night poker!

poker

poker night chez nous

I’ll be back later with the checklist of what they drank!…

Out in the vines this morning

26 Aug

There was a beautiful orange glow lighting up our room early this morning and I couldn’t wait to get outside to see what the garden and it’s adjacent vines looked like in that light…

grapes this morning

grapes this morning 2

grapes this morning 4

It’s nearing ‘les vendanges’ (harvest time for the grapes – or vintage, as we say in Australia) and it looks like it will be about a week early.  The grapes are all looking pretty good (those night visits helped!) and Benji’s only 3/4 stressed.  What you see above are bunches of ‘Syrah’.  Some of our friends have already started on their whites here in the Minervois, but our red grapes here probably have another week to go before the chop!   My days of picking are long gone I’m sorry to say.  Darn that back.  Everytime I see the pickers out in the heat with their broad smiles, sticky and dirty hands, having a laugh with each other,  I get so nostalgic!  I never realised how much fun and satsfaction I’d have from finishing a row – finishing a whole vineyard! – with a team.  I was only beginning to learn French and so a lot of my time in the row was spent listening to mad, sun-induced conversations I had little or no chance of undersatnding, kind advice from a few of the pickers on how to learn French in Three Easy Steps, or being asked to rattle off sentences out loud to everyone, whose meaning I had no idea about, with hysterical laughter greeting them.  They’d ask me to repeat these word for word to ‘the boss’ at home, and then I would know what they meant!…  Sentences full of ‘gros mots’ (what the lttle ones call ‘swear words) apparently!

The only thing I couldn’t bring myself to doing was guzzling down the red at lunchtime.  How did they do that?  You stop for a very LONG 90 minutes (these traditions of meal times must be respected. Geez, in Australia it was a brisk 30 minutes), and then get going again in the full force of the afternoon heat, to finish at 5pm.  Most people were very un-Anglo-Saxon and would have just the one glass, but some of the guys would go crazy!  I’d look over at the red faces with red in their bellies and wonder how they kept standing, or kept from snipping their fingers.   My lunch break was a much less festive affair:  lunch with a spectacular view, a very petite conversation in the French that I had, and then a long nap in the vines.  Not much else to do out there.  But it was so much fun.

a healthy, happy row

Minervois in the morning

A lot of people are already proclaiming that it will be a good year, but it’s hard to know until everything is safe off the vines!  Fingers crossed.

The garden looked pretty happy too this morning:

our zinnias this morning

this morning in the flowers

Morning walk

23 May

“folle avoine” (wild oats) growing above one of the old dry stone walls on my walk this morning

Some views from my morning walk today.

It’s hit 30 degrees this afternoon – in the month of May!?! – so I’m glad we headed out at 9am when although it was already bright, the air ws cooler.  It’s going to be a hot one this week!

This heat has put all of nature into overdrive and the vineyards are accelerating very quickly – almost too quickly.  Moderate temperatures and cooler nights allow a slower and more steady maturation, with good acidity and flavours in the fruit and a harvest (‘les vendenges’) in September.   What you don’t want to be doing is picking two-three weeks early (here that’s August) after accelerated growth.  Let’s hope it cools down a little!

my husband's favourite flowers!

wild leek flowers

there’s a lot of wild camomille out right now

A romantic after all??

20 May

I know I married a Frenchie, but that doesn’t mean that everyday is full of flowers, French champagne, French perfume, lingerie…  I won’t go any further, but to say simply that you can’t change the man!

What you see is what you get with this one (and I’m fine with that), and though dinners aren’t candlelit with violins serenading us, sometimes I do get little surprises.  Like this one yesterday…

wild leek flowers - allium ampeloprasum

I've received some flowers!

A bunch of hand-picked wildflowers!

freshly picked!

...roots and all

…roots and all!!

These beautiful wild leek flowers – ‘allium ampeloprasum‘ are all over the vineyards at the moment and Benji gave me quite a lovely surprise by bringing me this bunch home.

He is a romantic after all.

They just need a bit of a trim.  But we can even eat the bulbs… a man that thinks of everything.

I can’t get enough of the wildflowers at the moment.  Everyday brings a new variety or colour and it’s wonderful going out for a walk in the garrigues and a cheeky pick!

wild flowers from the Minervois

Wild flowers freshly picked

%d bloggers like this: