Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wine making - the adventure begins!

We may,just may, become vignerons. Wine makers! I've always wanted to make wine, God knows I drink enough of it. Here's the story so far. (this will be a continuing saga.)

Last week we were over at our friends house in a nearby hamlet when Annabel said; "look at this!" She showed us a couple of pictures she had taken of Robert & Marcel starting to make their annual batch of wine. Huge plastic tub for the grapes, a masher normally used for preparing silage for the cows and a monster wooden cask. (its so old its hard to tell what wood its made of.) Great local color, but the wine making technique would certainly be frowned on at a Bordeaux chateau.

The story is that Robert (aged 77) has about an acre & a half of 'hybrid' grapes. He's able to make about 1,000 liters of wine every year. None of it ever sees a bottle; its decanted (if that's the word) straight into a plastic bidon. All 1,000 liters are gone by the next year. What it lacks in quality it makes up for in
alcoholic content. Anyway they were good pictures and we all talked about how great it was that the local villagers kept up their old traditions.

Last Sunday we were all at a local fund raiser (over 200 people showed up even though the village isn't that large. The salle des Fetes was packed to the rafters.) for the restoration of the church in Neiuvaille which hadn't been opened for 18 years. It was a great 4 hour lunch.

At some point Annabel asked if we remembered the pictures she'd showed us. We did. She then said that couple of days after they were taken Robert came over & said he was quitting the wine making business. He was too old for the work involved and his wife was too old to do all the cooking for the pickers. He was going to throw away his vat and then pull up all of his grape vines. Donald & Annabel rescued the vat and its now safely in their barn.

Sometime thereafter, perhaps lubricated by a bit of wine, the cogs in my poor excuse for a brain finally meshed. Why didn't we rent Robert's vines!
The idea gained instant approval and we now have consortium with Donald & Annabel, Ruve & Michael and ourselves. The question became how to go about it.

We've enlisted the help of Albert who, seemingly, is related to everyone within 10 miles, but more importantly speaks fluent Occitan as well as French. Our
dilemma was that Robert's French such as it is is nearly impossible for any of us to understand and, needless to say, none of us speak Occitan. Albert will negotiate/translate on our behalf.

We plan to offer Robert a peppercorn rent for the vines, use him as our wine making consultant and give him a percentage of the wine. Or at least that's our starting point. This is very likely to be a complicated negotiation.

We all rushed over after the lunch only to find that Robert had gone hunting. France being France things must take their own time so we have a metting with Robert tomorrow, Saturday.

So, our hopes are high, our fingers crossed and I've driven by the vineyard at least once a day all this week.

To be continued.....

1 comment:

Kate Hill said...

David, welcome to the blog universe!
I just tasted the first rose'bourru' of the season, that fizzy, sweet half sugar/half alcohol 'wine in the making'! Fab enjoy your wine adventures!