Wednesday, February 27, 2008

That Certain Air Of Savoir Faire

This may not be the Merry Old Land of Oz, but watching the vine pruning process makes me realize that these people know a lot more about vines than those of us who simply drink the juice of their labors.

Another pine cone.

There's a couple, a man and a woman, who work for the people that own most of the vineyards behind our house. In fact, we don't know if they're actually a "couple" or whether they just work together. We always wave, exchange bonjours, and sometimes talk about the weather. They try to get Callie to come close to them, but she just runs around them.

Other-worldly lichens on a red brick.

The couple are out there nearly every day this time of year. They prune the thousands of vines back to one or two canes, one at a time, by hand, over the course of winter. They work in the cold rain; they work in the warm sunshine. They line the clippings up between the rows and will eventually use a tractor to pull a mulcher that grinds them up. Other pruners in neighboring vineyards burn the clippings as they go.

A broken tile, MADE IN FR...

Little by little the scraggly vineyard transforms into neat, clean rows. Some of the vines are pruned to a single long cane, others down to two or three short stubs. I have no idea why some vines are done one way while the others are different. In a few weeks the job will be done. Shortly after that we will start to see a slight green tint edge out the drab brown of the winter vineyard as the leaves emerge on the vines. Then we'll know that spring is really here.

Pruned and ready for leaves.

"We get up at twelve and start to work at one, take an hour for lunch and then at two we're done. Jolly good fun!"


  1. I declare the cone: King of the day. Nice to see the vine at different stages. I'm glad all I'm asked to do is to drink the wine.

    Another bout of Winter here. But you wrote 3 times that Spring will come. Thank you. I have great faith in you.

  2. haven't i read somewhere about snails snatched from the vines barbecued over the vine clippings? there's some very funky french soul food dish which entails setting the clippings on fire.

    in any case, i'm fascinated to think of the care with which this pair works on the vines all winter long. do they have special rain wear?

  3. PJ, yes, they do have special rainwear. Big green-gray plastic coat with hoods. The coats are bulky enough that they can wear layers of wool or fleece underneath. Callie gets a little freaked out by these very large outfits. ken

  4. Comment ca va mon vieil ami?! It is very good to see you are both happy and well and back in France. Your blog is outstanding, the photography wonderful... Ça fait si longtemps!

  5. aob, wow! Is that really you? It certainly has been a while. We'll need to exchange some e-mail and catch up... start with waltfrance(at)yahoo(dot)com. I'll give you my private address from there.

    purejuice, in addition to their wet weather garb, they sit on little rolling seats with big red wheels. I think Callie is spooked by them.

    claudia, you and me both (the drinking part, that is)!

  6. I want the job that goes with that verse at the end of your blog today! LOL

    Today I wasn't able to post a comment under my name in either Firefox or Safari. But chm, who's using a Mac, doesn't have the same issues. I must have angered the internet gremlins and will pay penance by henceforth being anonymous.

  7. This is really interesting to follow, also because of the photos. I had never realised it was so much work!

  8. Forgot to tell you how much I loved that lichen photo! Fantastic!


Pour your heart out! I'm listening.