Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Step back in Time...
The sky, azure blue, the winds, gentle, the sun, pouring forth warmth, and we, walking up the narrow passage to Châteauneuf du Pape. It is the Medieval Fête de la Véraison, a festival celebrating the first show of color on the grapes. The town is filled to its crest with happy people, tasting wine, purchasing medieval trinkets, and enjoying the many costumed participants.
The town was the escape for seven different popes who ruled the church in the 1300's and needed a rest from their duties in the Papal Palace in the bustling city of Avignon about 15 kilometers away. It was a wonderful location high on a hill overlooking the vines that they enjoyed drinking. Quite convenient!
The castle (new by the regions standards) was partially destroyed in 1944 when an ammunition reserve for the Germans was blown up as their troops were being taken over. Left standing was the tower which is now the symbol of the wines in the region. Looking at these vineyards, I am very happy not to harvest the grapes or prune the vines. Each row is filled with rocks as big as your fist! Ugh! But oh, does the area produce good wines.
The village air was filled with music provided by many wandering musicians. As it was an extremely warm, no hot day, the gentleman provided relief with cool water from a thumb pot. He dips the pot in a barrel of water, places his thumb over the hole in the top, and releases his thumb over the head of a very hot visitor and cool water gently pours forth. It is pure relief from the sun.
The Frison horses click through the village pulling a wagon with barrels filled with the Châteauneuf wines. As the horses patiently wait, glasses are poured for those to enjoy.
A delightful day, yes. A day back in time. This festival is always the beginning of the anticipation of a bountiful harvest.