02 October 2009

October — inevitable, I guess

Our mornings have turned foggy and the days cloudier than before. October! Phooey. But it hasn't yet rained.

Yesterday morning Walt was out doing you-know-what (clipping the hedge, let me say immediately before other ideas pop into your head) when a gray VW mini-van drove up and parked near our back gate. A man got out and left the motor running. It was Bruno Denis. His winery, Domaine de la Renaudie, owns most of the vineyard that surrounds us on three sides.

Sunrise in the vineyard day before yesterday

Walt said something about the weather, and Bruno answered that this has been, and still is, an exceptional year. He had come by to inspect some vineyard plots that were going to be harvested later in the day.

I hope the driver of this schoolbus knows what she's doing.
The sign says the road is closed up ahead.

I was busy doing my own version of you-know-what (raking up leaves, don't get excited) closer to the house. I asked Walt to ask Bruno about the variety of the blue grapes right outside our back gate. Just curious. I assumed they were one of the big three around here: Gamay, Cabernet Franc, or Côt/Malbec.

Blue grapes — I think they're Grolleau.

Well, I was wrong. Never assume. Bruno said those blue grapes are a cépage called Grolleau. It's not really a common varietal in France. Most of it is planted in the Loire Valley, but plantings of Grolleau have declined steeply over the past 50 years, from 25,000 down to 5,000 acres. Grolleau is often used to make rosé wines.

The label of another local winery that makes
rosé with Pineau d'Aunis grapes.

Just on the other side of the Grolleau parcel, there's a big parcel planted in Pineau d'Aunis, which is another grape used to make rosé wines. Those grapes are pink. They were harvested a week or so ago.

At the ready to receive a load of grapes

The grape harvest is winding down now. Most of the grapes are in. Some late-harvest varieties still hang on the vines. If the weather stays dry, they might hang there for a while yet.

What was left in the vegetable garden

As for the vegetable garden, it's winding down now too, except for the green leafy things, which tolerate cold, even frost. Not that it's frosty yet — far from it. But it's coming. Yesterday morning we picked all the tomatoes we could find that were worth picking, and also the eggplants and red bell peppers. I pulled out the pepper plants and some of the eggplant plants. October. You know how I feel about that.


  1. Aaah, how lovely to read your blog again! We have been without a computer fo a week and I have missed my early morning visits to France. Here it is Freshers week and days are so hectic that I especially need my daily fix for my sanity!

    I love the colourful picture of your final vegetable harvest! A reminder of summer!

  2. Hi Ken, Do they leave some grapes for the so-called 'vendanges tardives' (well into November or even December) as they do in the Alsace and Bordeaux region? In Germany they even have an 'Ice wine' made from grapes that have been harvested after being exposed to frost. Martine

  3. Ken, I always enjoy your photos of labels, packaging, and signs :) Thanks for those!


  4. that's quite a haul from ur end of the season veggie plants....how much edible corn did u end up getting....and was it good??

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  6. Here in New England, it's tough to vote for any month other than October as the favorite.

    The colors are so over-the-top beautiful that we forget about grey, dark, cold, dreary, dismal November until about October 29.

    Then we wait for the odd clear, sparkling, sunny day after a fresh snowfall to cheer us up.

  7. Can you eat wine grapes? I would think table grapes are better but I was wondering if there was a big difference? (thicker skin, not as sweet?) maybe like the difference between eatable corn and the corn they grow for animals?

  8. I'm with you about October! Phooey- but I think it's more like November phooey here in Alabama. My tomatoes are still happy and frost won't be here until later this month, but it will appear. So it goes.

    It has been an exceptional year, guess we should enjoy our beautiful fall time now...

  9. Yes, E., fall will be nice too. It's just that right now it's becoming clear that summer is done and gone. It's supposed to rain, and we need it, early next week. Today I pulled out the summer and the winter squash plants.

    Nadège, you can eat wine grapes but you have to spit out the seeds and the skins. They are very sweet right now. After the harvesting of the Grolleau grape out back, there are still quite a few bunches on the vines. I'm tasting them for everybody.

    Bill, as I said to Evelyn, yes, I know about the beauties of October. But right now, it seems chilly and the days are short again. When I get up it's dark (and I don't usually get up at 3:30, either!).

    Melinda, we got about half a dozen nice ears of sweet sweet corn. They were delicious. Then we got a dozen or so ears that didn't really fill out the way they should have. With those we stripped the kernels off the cob and made a cream of corn soup that was pretty good.

    Caroline, nice to see you back. What is Freshers week?

    Martine, I don't think they make ice wine around here but they do have some "vendanges tardives" wines, the dessert kind. I'm not sure when the last harvesting is done -- it probably depends on the weather.

  10. Hi Ken

    Freshers' week or Orientation week is the week before the university term starts when first years have induction and welcome to the course. There usually is a Freshers' fair where new students can have a look at all the clubs, groups and societies they could become a member of. For staff it is a hectic time with an enormous amount of paperwork to sort out and anxious freshers to deal with. But it all went well other than a 42 person lunch which nobody remembered to order but we pulled it out of the bag and all was well!! You can understand why I need my France fix in the morning at the moment!!

    Did you know my dad is in Saint Aignan hospital with a broken hip? He is doing fine though.

    Can't wait to read all last weeks' entries to your blog!!


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