Tuesday, September 29, 2009

French grape picking season begins

The "vendange" or annual grape picking season started this week-end.

It's an important couple of weeks for the whole cognac region. An excellent harvest brings higher sales and prosperity for the farmers and the myriad related industries in the area. A poor harvest and the outlook would be as gloomy as an album by Morrissey.

In all over 75,000 hectares of vines will be harvested in the charente and charente-maritime.
We have become firm friends with one of our local viticulteurs and the good news is that he's pretty optimistic that 2009 is going to be a good year. Those are his vines in the pic above - you can't buy his cognac, "Chez Bacou", in the shops but if you're ever passing this way you can buy it direct from his vineyard.....believe me, it's worth a visit.

The sleepy villages around us have come alive and we're woken at the crack of dawn by the huge picking machines rumbling off to work.

The roads become clogged with tractors pulling huge trailers filled to abundance with grapes and standing at the school gates all eyes are on the activity in the surrounding vines.

Picking lasts for 3-4 weeks and I enjoy this time of year so much that I'll be using our labrador as an excuse to get out into the vines at least two or three times every day throughout.

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