17 February 2012

The vine-pruning team

It's hard to believe the outdoor temperature this morning is +5ºC, or 41ºF. Less than a week ago our low temperatures were 30ºF below that. As Walt mentioned on his blog, the whole two-week cold snap seems like a dream now. If I didn't have the photos I took, I would have a hard time believing it really happened, and that the snow lasted as long as it did.

The vine-pruning team at work in the Renaudière vineyard

Our walks in the vineyard are less hair-raising now, and Callie and I stay out longer. The vine-pruners are back at work. It's nice to see them and talk to them for a few minutes early in the morning. Often they're just arriving when we walk by. If they haven't yet suited up in their bulky coats, hats, and hoods, Callie will approach them and let them pet her. They're disappointed when she acts stand-offish.

The vine pruners have these little rolling carts
so they can sit as they work.

If they have their pruning tools in their hands and they look twice a big as life because of the way they're bundled up, the dog's afraid of them. There are three pruners — two guys and a woman — who work for the same grape-grower, and they must be in their late 20s or early 30s. The team spends 8 hours a day out there, in all kinds of weather, but they didn't work when temperatures were below freezing and there was so much snow and ice.

The result

Even now, with daytime temperatures around 50ºF, it must get pretty cold when you spend the whole day working outdoors. They work even when it's raining, unless the rain is really beating down. They arrive ever morning at 8:00 in their little white Domaine de la Renaudie camionnette.

A gravel road runs through the Renaudière vineyard
near Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher

They seem to take an hour or even two for lunch, though, because we see them drive by in their little white van at noon and return for the afternoon shift between 1:30 and 2:00 — they are French, after all! And they talk and laugh all the time as they work. They seem to be a compatible group. I know they all have dogs, but I don't know much else about them.


  1. There were 25 degrees C difference between the temperature here yesterday (a bit further south than you...) and the worst of the cold. Unbelievable! I'm just very glad it's over, though I miss the crisp white blanket everywhere!

  2. I like the little trolley... Pauline has a garden one that she uses when picking the redcurrants... and some types of weeding... she'll probably want one of these when she spots it.

  3. Thank you for your lovely pictures and commentary. It has taken me out of our hot and arid Australia....

  4. Is there a special french name for that trolley? I need one too!


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