Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hooray! We finished!

This is what we have been picking. The Syrah is a grape that likes to tangle itself around the wires and other branches taking lots of time to pick. But yesterday, we finished. Placing that last case on the tractor, there was a sign of relief.

The grapes were delicious and the wild boars have been enjoying them for dinner. One vigneron told me to always taste the grapes remaining on a cluster that the boars have eaten. They will be the sweetest of all the grapes. The mildew also took its toll by leaving just dried grape branches. Another vigneron told me when the weeds thrive and are green at this time of year, the fruits will not be many. The weeds and grass were very green and the fruit is not plentiful---too much moisture. Ah, but this moisture is good for next year.

The colors in the vineyards are beginning to shout. Each type of grape leaf changes differently. Soon the countryside will all be in shades of red.

To add adventure to the day, Amy threw a stick for Daisy to run after. Daisy does love that, however, Amy also threw her car keys, house, gate, tractor, and shed keys along with that stick. The landing place? A wonderful Brer Rabbit briar patch. We haven't found them yet.

What did both Joe and I say this afternoon? We missed going to the vineyard. The days outside were crisp. The people, who helped us pick all volunteers, were a delight. The lunches in the vineyard were filled with jabbering and laughter. What fun it has been-----and all for the 2008 La Gramiere.

À bientôt,

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Am Sleeping Very Well, Thank You

Oh, yes, we are finally picking. Late Tuesday evening, I got a call from Amy saying we were beginning in the morning. "Oh, can you make your French muffins for the morning." Aren't children wonderful?

Picking began because:
1. Rain was predicted for Thursday
2. The grapes were ready---how did we know? Because,
3. The wild boars (sangliers) were eating them (An animal I know it mother must love)

So we began on a perfect cool day. We finished one vineyard and yesterday we were onto the largest of the vineyards. We stopped about four o'clock---well, not exactly stopped as we had another three hours of destemming the grapes and cleaning the buckets and crates to be ready for the next round of picking.

Yes, it did rain about a half an inch last night which left a lot of moisture on the grapes,not especially good for adding to the wine. Alas, we are not picking today. Tomorrow, according to the biodynamic calendar, is a black day, therefore, we will not pick until Sunday. It will be time to prepare more food and go to the markets, and oh, bottle about 400 bottles of last year's wine.

The people who are helping us are wonderful. Our neighbor, Axel who is from Germany but has had a home in Vers for 30 years, has been in the vineyard everyday and enjoyed showing off his University of Denver shirt. And our little ones, Ellie and Cole, ate a little and giggled a lot.

À bientôt,


Friday, September 12, 2008

Roll Out the Barrels.....

Isn't the next line, "We'll have a barrel of fun."?

No, we did not pick yesterday. Wednesday evening, Amy announced that we would wait. The storms were not suppose to be as bad as predicted and the Mistral, strong northern winds, were to arrive to dry the rain. Our plans had changed again. Sooooo, what wonderful project would await us? One that I had never had on my list of things that I needed to do.

They are using barrels for some of their wines this year. The barrels were in the front of the house and needed to be transferred to the back of the house---only a short walk on the busy street, around the corner, into the back yard, along the sidewalk and down six steps to the perfect spot to fill them with hot water. No problem! As you can see it was team work. We only had to do four of the ten barrels, today! I am sure the others will soon have to make the trip.

Of course, that does not end their adventure. After emptying the water, they will be go up the six steps, into the winery and be hoisted to the tops of the cuves (vats) where they will rest. Another thing not on my list.

Yes, the rain did come in sheets. Now, for the winds. And the next picking date? Who knows! The grapes will tell us.

À bientôt,

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Time is Near!

It arrives tomorrow. We will begin to pick the white grapes. Actually, we will finish it tomorrow also as there are two small vineyards and the mildew and hail took a toll on these vineyards. So we have begun getting ready. First, we had to totally clean the presses as they will be used right away. The grapes will be placed inside the slatted wooden round barrels and a hydraulic press will squeeze the juices thru the holes in the slates. The vats are clean and waiting.

This afternoon? The pruners need to be sharpened and oiled, buckets brought down and cleaned, large crates cleaned, and maybe, just a sip of wine to keep us interested.

Matt arrived at our house this morning on his way to the vineyard with his friend, the thirty something tractor. He was spraying (I don't know what) to help attract light to warm the grapes to encourage them to ripen. Now, that sounds interesting.

Are you ready to pick tomorrow morning at sunrise? We must do it early as there is a forecast for an orage (thunderstorm) in the afternoon.

À bientôt,

Sunday, September 7, 2008

On the List---Dinner in the French Countryside

Sit back, close your eyes, and imagine the crimson sunset over the rolling hills covered in neat rows of vines all laden with dark, purple globes waiting to be picked. Now picture a tiny, one lane country road leading to this single sign---Le Mazet. What is this place? We only see the back of a honey colored building. Walking around the side, we find the most wonderful terrasse covered with vines all aglow with a soft yellow light. Under this canopy are tables waiting to be filled with those anticipating a French country meal. Here we sit for an unforgetable evening.

Amidst welcomes by the two proprieters (along with his two sisters, who were not there), we found our seats. The menu arrived on a board and was explain thoroughly to us. Amy and Matt had been there before so knew the sisters. ( ) Their mother had been the chef at the restaurant until she was needed to work the vineyards, one vineyard having been in the family since the 1400s. He had returned to reopen the restaurant.

The meal, as he said after I complimented him on it, was very simple and it was. The flavors were delicious. Herring, barracuda, steak, seafood, baby pork, tellines, and desserts.

The crescent moon slide down below the hills and the stars with no lights to hinder their view of earth looked upon us as we left. A night in the French countryside---put this on your list of things you must do.

Restaurant Le Mazet
Saint Marcel d'Ardèche
04 75 90 50 46

À bientôt,

(Click on any picture to enlarge!)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Meet Us for a Glass of Wine---6:00?

Joe and I were early to meet everyone for dinner. Our path let us to a small wine bar in a narrow passageway leading from the main area of the city. Six tables gathered around the Caveau du Chai d'Uzès--- one just begging us to sit down. So we did! Gazing at the wine and tapas list on the blackboard, we both commented how wonderful it would be if in Colorado Springs we could have a good glass of wine for these same prices.

Well, join us anyway.

Á bientôt,

Imagine this day

If you happen to be a gentleman of the village, your days are rather full of excitement. After ambling to the bakery for your morning bread, you will probably go to the bench at the end of our road to enjoy the sun and keep track of who is passing. After a leisurely chat with others, you will jaunt, all be it slowly, to the park across the way. Under the filtered light of the plane trees, the remaining day will be spent playing boules (petanque) with your assembled colleagues. Ah, what a fine day.

As I walked through the village a couple of days ago, I noticed that the park was covered with falling leaves. This could be a problem (as you can see by our statue who is thinking about it) to the anticipated players. Ah, but our wonderful village workers began sweeping the area so the game could continue.

Tomorrow---oh, it will be about the same. And if you wish to add a new dimension to your life, I know just the bench to begin on.

À bientôt,

Monday, September 1, 2008

It Disappeared!

Once again Saturday was market day and we anticipated which pastry each would choose. As we entered the shop, the cakes and tarts in the front window were very enticing but quite large to eat in one sitting (but both of us are willing to try). The clerk just rolls her eyes when she sees us coming as she know the selection will take time. My choice? Le Dauphinoise, a walnut and caramel treat. Joe, after much deliberation, pointed to Le Forêt Noir, layers of dark chocolate. Carefully the box was placed in our basket and we jostled our way through the crowds to the perfect "people watching" table. There, in anticipation of the tastes inside, we opened the box. My pastry was a glistening caramel and Joe's......wasn't there! He had no pastry! With a disappointed look on his face, he decided he would just get a pain au chocolate rather than fight the crowds to the patissiere again. As we left the village we did stop for his treasure.

I am sorry. By the time I went to take a picture of his confection, this is all I saw.

Á bientôt,