20 April 2010

What the vineyards are producing in April

This morning, just as I was getting ready to tell you how there really isn't much going on the vineyard right now, Walt came back from his morning walk with Callie holding a huge bunch of green asparagus. He had picked them at various places around the vineyard.

Asparagus spears picked out in the vineyard

These are not spears of wild asparagus. They are escapees, I think, of the domesticated variety. I'm not sure how they got into the vineyard parcels, growing among the rows of grapevines. Maybe the land was used to grow asparagus at some point in the past, before it was replanted in vines. Or maybe birds or breezes spread asparagus seeds out there. Asparagus is a major crop in this part of the Loire Valley.

I immediately washed and trimmed the "found" asparagus spears...

We've been gradually finding and keeping track of more and more spots where asparagus comes up spontaeously in the spring. Nobody else seems to be interested in it. We probably visit the vineyard more frequently and regularly than anybody else, including the people who own the land, grow the grapes, and make and sell the wine.

...and steamed them. We'll have them for lunch
with some mayonnaise or vinaigrette.

We will start getting the locally grown white asparagus this weekend. So far, the few stalks available have been too expensive — as much as 10 € a kilogram — and we know the price will come down signficantly once the crop really starts to come in. I bet we'll find good white asparagus at the market in Saint-Aignan next Saturday for 5 to 6 € a kilo — $3.00 lb., approximately.

Vineyard scenes, 19 April 2010

But as I was saying, there's not an awful lot going on out in the vineyard right now, at least on a visible level. Nobody is working in the vines. We've seen just a few tractors over the past weeks, and Walt did run into our neighbors the Guerriers out there last week — they are a two-person operation, and they always seem to be late getting their work done, pruning and spraying days or weeks after everybody else has finished.

The leaves are starting to open up now.

But of course a lot is going on under the ground. It rained last night, so the vines are soaking up moisture. And if you look closely, you can see the first leaves forming. It won't be long before what is for the time being fairly barren-looking will become a wide sea of green.

The Renaudière vineyard, 19 April 2010

Everything is late this year. We had a long cold winter. Springtime has some catching up to do. I was glad it rained last night, because I tilled up a couple more garden plots yesterday. We might plant some chard and other greens this week.


  1. Now that is what I call 'Living of the land'. Those asperagus look so nice and crunchy. I hope enjoy them!

  2. from way back to the 60's as a GI in GY to our 5 trips to France in May, we never miss a great helping of white asparagus - butter sauce and a nice slice of ham and a fruity red to wash it down!! never forget going out to a husband and wife team south of Chinion who were harvesting the day's needs to buy a nice bunch - talk about fresh!!

    OH please let the planes fly next week to get us back to France for another helping!! The Alsace and the Auvergne should be loaded with asparagus!!

  3. I hope you get back to France next week, Dale!

    Isn't it wonderful to walk dogs every day and find new discoveries along the way? Our woods have bigger trilliums this year for some reason. Things are late here also, but the joy of Spring is gradual and better each year.

    Enjoy your mysterious volunteer asparagus

  4. I found multiple patches of chard, radishes, and two artichoke plants when I was walking in the salt marsh at the end of Whipple a few weeks ago. It must have been a truck farm at one point. I haven't built up the nerve to forage some of it.

  5. Why buy it when you can get it for free? Since May if the official month for asparagus in most of Europe, it should be fully grown.


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