Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Weird Grapes

My neighbours have nearly 30 hectares of near perfect viticultural vines. They work 7 days a week 365 days a year in order to look after the land. They are delightful people, two brothers in their late 50's/early 60's who live in a ramshackle farm house at the top of the hill with their mother(who must be well in to her 90's)!

Their father passed away a few years ago. He was known locally as the 'helicopter man' as he drove around with an open top Citroen 2CV with a large electric fan cooling him down! Sounds like a bit of a character. The family arrived in this area(originally from Spain) with no possessions over 60 years ago. They have grafted all their life and built up their vineyards and never sold anything. They have absolutely no ostentatious trappings of prosperity. They are just very hardworking people who know a lot about the soil, the vines, the winds, the rain, the sun and how to make things grow! ...essentially the most important things in life.
They are old fashioned in their approach to viticulture but they weigh up decisions with 50 years experience rather than the latest fashion.
They pick all their grapes by hand. The picture on the left is the harvest team in full action. I lasted about 15 minutes before I was left behind! They were picking grapes on the vines about 200 metres from our house. I was intrigued to see a mixed block of white and red grapes. Apparently this was the norm 50 years ago when this vineyard was planted. The grapes in the picture on the right (which looked incredibly healthy) are a mix of Listan (white) also known as Palomini Fino and Aramon (red). Look up wikipedia for more info. But these grapes are an essential fabric of the amazing mix of life in the South of France.

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