15 August 2010

Out in the vineyard in August

I did something yesterday morning that I hadn't done in quite a while. I took my camera with me when I went on my morning walk out in the vineyard with Callie.

The grapes are definitely starting to ripen. I wish our tomatoes would do the same — though Walt did say yesterday that he saw evidence of ripening. A year ago, we had ripe tomatoes in July, and I have the pictures to prove it. This is what I blogged about a year ago on July 31, and I even see pictures where tomatoes were getting ripe as early as July 8 and July 12, 2009. This year, everything is late.

The grapes are just starting to turn color.

But as I was saying, the grapes are beginning to ripen here in Touraine. The summer of 2010 has been a lot like the summer of 2009, with the exception of the two or three weeks of chilly weather we had this year in June. That explains a lot..

It's interesting how gardening makes you remember how the summer weather was in each year. The summer weather here in the Loire Valley varies greatly from year to year.

These are looking like autumn already.

The worst summer we had was in 2007. That year, April was abnormally hot, and thought we were in for a long hot summer. But May, June, July, and August were damp and downright cold. Weeds took over the vegetable garden, choking out nearly everything we had planted. We got almost no tomatoes that summer. If it hadn't been for a three-week warm spell in September, the grapes might not have ripened in time for the late-September harvest — and even then, the cold rains came back starting around September 20.

The Renaudière vineyard is a carpet of green in mid-August.
That's our hamlet in the background.

Our best summers came in 2005 and 2009. 2005 was probably the ideal. In 2009, it was so dry and warm that there was no need to mow the lawn after July 15 — the grass and weeds simply stopped growing. It was the opposite of 2004, when we had the rainiest August in 40 years in this part of France.

I'm starting to see a lot of bunches like this one.

Of course, 2003 was the year of the great heat wave, when so many people in France died of heat exhaustion. We ourselves thought we might perish. We haven't seen anything like that again. This summer, we had some hot weather in June and July, but it's hard to remember a day when it was so hot that we serioulsy wished we had air conditioning in the house.

And these have turned into raisins on the vine.

Overall, 2010 has given us a good summer, but because of poor weather in June the garden and grapes are pretty late this year. We had a lot of rain in July, but it came in downpours rather than long periods of drizzle, it wasn't unpleasant. There were nice thunderstorms. The ground is still dry. August has been cooler but with little rain so far. Today it's gray and almost chilly — strange for August 15.


  1. I love the colorful leaves on the grape plant :)) Glad you took your camera with you today!


  2. Beautiful pictures. I hope you get few more weeks of summer. In the old days if we had thunder storms on August 15, the rest of summer would be cool and rainy.
    I am going on location for 4 days next week in the Mojave (CHM neck of the woods). We are expecting a mini heat wave starting today with lots of humidity coming up from Mexico.

  3. Hi Nadège, right this minute it is pouring rain outdoors. I mean pouring. On TV, they are saying we are having Toussaint-type weather this weekend.

    Judy, you must be getting ready to start work again. Or have you already started?

    My word verification string is "scolar"!

  4. What a horrible "15 août" we had over here ! Fortunately, I had nice company since I had invited for lunch, Nicole, the sweet US assistant who worked at our high school in 2007-2008 and who was on the verge of going back to Maine after spending a holiday in France. I also invited one of my colleagues who, like me and our other colleagues, enjoyed working with Nicole ;-) My colleague's dh as well as Florence and my Dad were also present, so it was a nice day :-) Bises ;-) Mary


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