Vendage

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It is the time in France for grapes to be picked, loaded into slow tractors that you often end behind of when driving, and taken to the closest wine co-op for processing. Our neighbors have plots of vines and I was hoping to help cut some grapes by hand but somehow it never happened. I am sure it is very hard work. Anyway, the other day I heard a tractor putt by and grabbed my camera to get some photos of grapes being cut from the vines by machine, the usual way for making alot of wines.

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Not too clear as the sun was shining into my lens.

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View from the side

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The grapes are collected into two containers on the side of the processor and then dumped into a waiting tractor.

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A common view on the roads during the vendage season

The next day I was on my way to Aix when I passed the wine co-op which had alot of activity going on. Usually, the doors are down and the only thing to be seen is cars of customers there to buy wine. But this day I saw six or so tractors with wagons full of grapes waiting to be processed. I parked and got out of my car to take photos. They were all very nice and friendly and didn’t mind my interest at all. One of the drivers even gave me some grapes to taste which were very sweet and flavorful and will, I imagine, lead to some good wine. The grapes are dumped into a huge container behind which are women entering information into computers. There was an open grid on the floor and you could see down two stories where the grapes were crushed and then sent on to holding tanks.

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Grapes being dumped into the holding container

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This is the man that gave me a grape to taste about to dump his load of grapes into the holder.

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The co-op where they have been doing business since 1924

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I followed the smell of grapes to behind the co-op and found the grape skins and leaves coming out of a pipe onto the ground. There is a smart woman who wondered if something could be done with the grape skins and seeds and came up with some creams for the skin called Caudale. It is very good stuff with an incredibly wonderful smell that can be bought in French pharmacies. There is also a Caudale spa outside of the city of Bordeaux.

I enjoy trying the wines of Provence and the experience of seeing how it is produced after watching it grow in local vineyard really adds to the pleasure of it all. It is great to sit out on our patio with a meal and hold up a glass of wine knowing which vineyard it came from–part of the joy of living in France.

9 thoughts on “Vendage

  1. Oooh, Linda! Fabulous! I can almost smell those grapes in that huge container. Aren’t you the lucky one to happen by at that particular time…avec votre appareil de photo!!

    Would you consider putting just a short entry–like a teaser–on blueVicar.com as a summary of these events, then put a link to your site? It would be fun for wine story readers to see some real grapes being made into real wine.

    Think about it…if you don’t have time, I could do the teaser and send them over to your site. Let me know what you think.

    Meilleurs vœux!

  2. Great shots Linda, I have been meaning to get my camera out when ever I see them out there and you got exactly the shots that I wanted…so now I can enjoy yours!! It is a lovely time of the year.

  3. Thank you so much for this, Linda! I never seem to be able to make it to France’s wine regions at just the right time for the vendange. This is fascinating—including the information about how Caudalie got started.

  4. Wow, I wonder how, exactly, you can cut grapes with a huge machine like that — without smashing the grapes!

    Beringer Winery in Napa, CA had an interesting story about the grape skins and left-overs. During Prohibition, they (and one other winery in CA) were the only 2 wineries allowed to continue producing wine — for medicinal and religious uses only. So what they did was, take all the skins and dregs and mash them into bricks. Which they then could sell to anyone who would buy them. What did people do with those grape-skin bricks? Made their own illegal hooch, that’s what!

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