There was a beautiful orange glow lighting up our room early this morning and I couldn’t wait to get outside to see what the garden and it’s adjacent vines looked like in that light…
It’s nearing ‘les vendanges’ (harvest time for the grapes – or vintage, as we say in Australia) and it looks like it will be about a week early. The grapes are all looking pretty good (those night visits helped!) and Benji’s only 3/4 stressed. What you see above are bunches of ‘Syrah’. Some of our friends have already started on their whites here in the Minervois, but our red grapes here probably have another week to go before the chop! My days of picking are long gone I’m sorry to say. Darn that back. Everytime I see the pickers out in the heat with their broad smiles, sticky and dirty hands, having a laugh with each other, I get so nostalgic! I never realised how much fun and satsfaction I’d have from finishing a row – finishing a whole vineyard! – with a team. I was only beginning to learn French and so a lot of my time in the row was spent listening to mad, sun-induced conversations I had little or no chance of undersatnding, kind advice from a few of the pickers on how to learn French in Three Easy Steps, or being asked to rattle off sentences out loud to everyone, whose meaning I had no idea about, with hysterical laughter greeting them. They’d ask me to repeat these word for word to ‘the boss’ at home, and then I would know what they meant!… Sentences full of ‘gros mots’ (what the lttle ones call ‘swear words) apparently!
The only thing I couldn’t bring myself to doing was guzzling down the red at lunchtime. How did they do that? You stop for a very LONG 90 minutes (these traditions of meal times must be respected. Geez, in Australia it was a brisk 30 minutes), and then get going again in the full force of the afternoon heat, to finish at 5pm. Most people were very un-Anglo-Saxon and would have just the one glass, but some of the guys would go crazy! I’d look over at the red faces with red in their bellies and wonder how they kept standing, or kept from snipping their fingers. My lunch break was a much less festive affair: lunch with a spectacular view, a very petite conversation in the French that I had, and then a long nap in the vines. Not much else to do out there. But it was so much fun.
A lot of people are already proclaiming that it will be a good year, but it’s hard to know until everything is safe off the vines! Fingers crossed.
The garden looked pretty happy too this morning: