20 September 2013

Seven vineyard pictures

On his blog, Jim Budd says that he recently talked to one of the wine producers in our village, Catherine Roussel at Clos Roche Blanche, and that she told him the grape harvest won't start around here until the first of October. That's really late.

In 2003, the first year we lived here near Saint-Aignan, the harvest started around the 25th of August. That was the year of the great canicule or heat wave, with hot weather from June through August and into September. Many days in August saw the high temperature hit 40ºC, over 100ºF.

Ten years later, we had a very wet and cool spring, with unseasonably low temperatures lasting until the end of June. July and August turned out dry and sunny, and overall pretty warm, but without record-breaking high temperatures. Now we seem to be about to emerge from a two-week rainy spell. Next week the weather is supposed to turn beau et chaud again.

The grapes aren't really ripe yet, apparently. They will now have plumped up from all the moisture the soil has absorbed — 46 mm of rainfall here at our house since September 6. That means about a gallon of water has fallen on each square meter of ground in 14 days.

We have scads of apples on the ground. They need to be raked up and picked up before Walt can mow the grass one more time. We are still harvesting tomatoes, and the upcoming warm spell will be perfect for them. We have a dozen or more winter squashes growing, and they will benefit also from warm, dry conditions before we bring them in. My greens are growing nicely and the moisture has been good for them.

This is life in the country and these are our current preoccupations. Oh, these and some administrative hassles and tax issues. Plus, it seems that Madame Barbier, who's been cutting our hair for 10 years, has gone into retirement. Our dentist also retired a while back, and we haven't found another dentist we really like. Our doctor is out on medical leave, and we don't know when he'll be back, if ever. Oh, and the car's speedometer has stopped working.

I guess the good news is that the roof hasn't shown any signs of leaking during the recent rains. Of course, we haven't had any violent downpours like the ones we had back in April and May. The kitchen ceiling still needs repairing, but we have to wait until we feel sure that the leak is fixed before we get the job done. Oh, and we are waiting for firewood. The man said he would call this week and deliver several cords before the end of the month. I'll have to call and remind him today.

It's good to be ready for winter, but psychologically I am not ready. The days are already a lot shorter than they were. Leaves are falling. According to the calendar, today is the last day of summer. Sigh. Here are some grape pictures that can remind us of the beauty of the season, despite the coming autumn. By the way, it'll be gratin de chou-fleur for lunch...


  1. I know how you feel. Our firewood merchant still hasn't delivered, after asking me ages ago how much we wanted. Mind you, we haven't cleaned out the garage space in preparation either. I need to pick apples and hazelnuts and soon grapes, but we have clients every day next week.

    One of 'our' St Georges sur Cher winemakers said he would be harvesting at the usual time (he's starting next week). 'Our' Vouvray guys on the other hand aren't starting until 10 October, the latest they have ever harvested.

  2. Such gorgeous photos!!!
    Watching the vineyards during the seasons is one of the things I miss about living in the south.

  3. Lovely grapeyard pix....
    makes me thirsty...
    I'll have to get some grape juice in from Lidl next visit.

    Isaw a woman stripping all the leaves from her 'private' vines...
    presumably to let the sun get at them...
    [much the same way as tommy-toes and squash.]

    Our wood was delivered yesterday...
    after the third phone call...
    33€s extra for having the 5 cubic metres pre-cut into 50cm lengths...
    but it will allow me to start on the wood from the riverbank this winter.

    So all afternoon was spent carting it to the Donkey Shed...
    the tidy stacking can come later!!

  4. Our firewood guy just called and will deliver five cubic meters of wood tomorrow morning. Ours costs 50 euros/cubic meter, so it's a lot more expensive than yours, Tim. I don't know why. And it's in one-meter lengths, not 50 cm. We burn less than 5 cubic meters over an average winter.

  5. Hang on there, Nelly, it's not time to talk about WINTER yet, mon ami *R*R*R*. Let's get some nice autumn photos in, and some lovely crisp days, before we start mentioning alllll of that!

    Ken, on another note: Do you prefer the tomato-sauce-making method of cooking the tomatoes with their skins on, and using a food mill, to what looks to me like an annoying method-- removing the skins before cooking?

  6. Ken, that thirty-five Euros was the extra for having it cut...
    it was 45€s per cubic metre in metre lengths plus approx 7€s for cutting... and 7€s for livraison...
    59€ in all per stere...
    but, like I wrote, I need to be cutting other wood than the heating this winter...
    so it was worth it!

    Also, an added bonus as the bones get older... they were a lot lighter to manouver!!!

  7. The wood we're getting for 50 euros per stère (m3) is all oak, and the price includes delivery but not stacking. In U.S. terms, that would be 1.38 cords for $339 -- about $250 a cord. Seems fair.


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