02 September 2007

Grapes and the vendanges

"Black" grapes, either Gamay, Cabernet Franc, or Côt

I wouldn't be surprised to see the grape harvest — les vendanges — start tomorrow. Bruno of the Domaine de la Renaudie told me a couple of weeks ago that harvesting wouldn't start before September 1, but he seemed to think the grapes were close to being ready. It's slightly early, but the weather is nice right now. If it starts raining again, that will be bad for the grapes.

A La Renaudière, 31 August 2007

Don't imagine big groups of workers out in the vineyard picking grapes by hand. Some Touraine grapes are harvested that way, but around Saint-Aignan most of the picking is done mechanically — by machines. The grapes are sort of sucked off the vines in a big vacuuming process.

I wondered if these weren't the Pineau d'Aunis grapes
that they sometimes use to make rosé here in Touraine,
but Walt looked that variety up and said the grapes are
much darker and that it used to be called Chenin Noir.

Bruno and Patricia have told me that harvesting by hand is just too expensive nowadays. Touraine wines, while good, don't command the big prices of the Bordeaux and Burgundy vintages. Grape-growing and wine-making are family businesses here, and mechanical harvesting makes it possible for the members of the family to do all or most of the work.

White wine grapes — either Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc

I'll be sorry when the grapes are gone, because they are so beautiful to look at and take pictures of. But they will be wine by next May, and that can be nice too!

A tiny spider on a grape leaf

In Friday's San Francisco Chronicle, there was an article about Loire Valley red wines, covering the territory from Saumur, west of Tours, all the way to Sancerre, which is about 150 miles upriver, including Touraine appelations like Bourgueil, Chinon, Amboise, and Cheverny.


  1. The spider is absolutely stunning!. Somehow, I can never take a decent photo of a spider. I'm always focusing on the wrong thing!

  2. i wanted to thank you for all the great pix of each kind of grape as it ripens -- they're intrinsically beautiful, the saga of the ripening is really nice, and observing the process as if i were almost there is really nice. i still want to know i callie snarfs a mouthful when she can. or do you? thanks again.

  3. Hi PJ, I have been known to try a grape or two but don't tell on me. They are sour, anyway. Callie has never done more than smell them as far as I know. Aren't grapes and raisins very bad for dogs?

    Claude, my camera seems to focus pretty well, doesn't it? That spider was so small that I almost didn't notice it.


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