30 May 2010

As tiny grapes...

...light, delicious Touraine wines are born. We are already enjoying the 2009 vintage, which was a good one. The summer of 2009 was consistently warm and very dry. That makes for healthy grapes and tasty wines. We are hoping for more of the same in 2010.

Since the Renaudière vineyard wraps around our house on three sides, we go for daily walks up, down, and around the rows of vines and keep our eye on the grapes and leaves as they develop starting in March all the way through the harvest in September and October. In about April, many of the Touraine wines from the previous season are released to the public.

Baby grapes on the vines in the Renaudière vineyard
outside Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher, in Touraine

It's been dry for a few months now, after a wet winter. I hope that's good for the vines, which supposedly have very deep roots and can find water down below even when at surface level the ground seems dusty dry. Right now we are having a couple of days of light rain — we've gotten 11 mm, or just less than half an inch, over the past four days and just 33 mm (1.3 in.) for the whole month of May.

Nice of these to pose in front of such a pretty post

That's a low rainfall total for the month. We got nary a drop of rain from May 10 until May 25. The current showers are greening everything up and rinsing the dust and pollen off all the leaves. Everything looks fresh right now. Except for corn and eggplants, all our garden is planted and the seeds and seedlings are drinking up last night's rain as I type this.

The leaves are pretty too, and they are on my
cooking list: Stuffed Grapevine Leaves.

I finished tilling up the last garden plot just yesterday morning. That one was planted in collards and chard, which over-wintered there, and we were still harvesting those until recently. Now it's tilled up and Walt will plant it in sweet corn — two varieties. We're hoping for a good corn crop this summer.

When we're not painting walls, we be watching
the grapes grow this summer.

Good news: Elisabeth, Jacques' wife and business partner, called yesterday afternoon. They have returned from a week's vacation on the Ile d'Ouessant off the coast of Brittany. The closet doors for the upstairs "apartment" are in their possession, and work will start up again tomorrow. With any luck, they'll get the doors hung and the floorboards put down before next weekend. But I'm probably being too optimistic.

The local grape harvest normally takes place in late September.

Then we'll be able to start painting. That's going to take us all summer, I predict. We don't work 8-hour days when we start doing home improvements. There's too much cooking and garden work to do every day. But if we can get the floor and staircase varnished, we'll be able to start moving things upstairs. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.


  1. Hi Ken, Great new profile picture ;^)!!

  2. Who knew I was so photogenic! Actually, credit goes to the photographer — Martine! And my thanks.

  3. I noticed the new profile photo, too -- it's fun that you change it now and then :))

    It's exciting to know that more big work will be done upstairs. I'm looking forward to more updates!


  4. Beautiful pictures of grapes. I was going to ask you if you use the leaves to make dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and sure enough you do.

    Just wondering, is it better for the wine to have a dry or wet growing season?

  5. Ken, No stress! I 'm just glad I could be part of this ! :))

  6. What do you use to stuff the grapevine leaves?

  7. Starman, you stuff the blanched grape leaves with a mixture of rice with raisins, pine nuts, or even ground beef, along with dill, mint, olive oil, and lemon juice. I've never made them before, but have eaten many out of tins.

  8. Hello Diogenes, a dry growing season is much better. Too much dampness causes mold and mildew to attack and ruin the grapes.

  9. nice blog. Being a grape wine lover, I enjoyed going through your blog. I love Viogner from California very much. All pictures on your blogs looks good.


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