Asides

Languedoc Vine Report. Wednesday 26th March 2014

A great year ahead?

This week’s Wednesday Vine Report is full of surprises. When you see my photographs you won’t believe the difference when compared with last year.

I hope to bring you regular reports as before. Since I was hit by a car in December, I have developed a painful condition which I won’t bore you with here. Suffice it to say sometimes I won’t be able to get out into the vineyards.

Watching for first signs

Remember how last year I eagerly waited for first signs of growth on the vines?

Vine Report 2013

how it looked last year

Dry sticks was all we had to look at last year at this time. I was looking to choose a particular vine so that I could follow its progress throughout the year. Mademoiselle Merlot became the choice and I’ve grown rather attached to her. Silly, I know, but I don’t want to be unfaithful. She’s going to feature in this year’s vine reports too.

Here’s the Merlot field this week after the mildest winter weather I’ve experienced since moving to France.

Vine Report 2014

not pruned yet but already sprouting

Today we have welcome light rain. There hasn’t been much of it. Growers depend on the fourteen days of downpour we can normally expect spread throughout late March and April. It hasn’t happened yet. In my last Vine Report, I showed how the grower of the Chardonnay vines has recently installed a watering system

So here are those Chardonnay vines.

Vine Report March 2014

going crazy!!

This photograph was taken on March 20th after a neighbour had told me I had better get up there and have a look. She knew I’d been looking out for first signs of growth again this year and I think she was rather pleased with herself that she’d beaten me to it. However, judging by this amount of growth, we’d both missed the first sprouting by at least two weeks.

Is this year’s harvest already a whole month ahead of last year?

Maybe it’s too soon to say. Maybe we wouldn’t want to tempt fate by saying so. (Languedoc is full of superstitions)

But it looks that way to me. There’s very little danger of late frosts in this part of France. Besides, now that the rain has begun I think we’ll move right along into an early summer.

So, come along ladies. Do your stuff.

Languedoc Vines 2014

lovely ladies!

Thank you for visiting my website. There’s lots more to read here and it’s all free!

Do drop me a message. I love to hear from readers.

Till next time,

Cheers!

 

.

 

Languedoc Vine Report. March 13th

The Languedoc Vine Report began last year on April 3rd. Here’s the first photo I posted. It shows the vineyards near my home where I selected the one particular vine I photographed throughout the year.

Languedoc wine village

vineyards near my home

Mademoiselle Merlot turned out very nicely. We followed her growth right up to harvest and very tasty she is too.

This year spring arrived so early here in Languedoc we’ve all been taken by surprise.

We had a short cold spell before Christmas and it’s been mild ever since.

Languedoc spring

blue skies and pruned vines

Work is well under way in the vineyards across the village.

irrigation for vines

new irrigation system in the Chardonnay vineyard

The other vineyard we followed closely last year was the Chardonnay field. The other day, I saw this new irrigation channel being dug all around.

Do the growers know something we don’t?

Is this summer going to be one of those where we hit 40 degrees plus?

We’ve been very dry already through this early part of the year. Normally, as the weather warms, we go through what I call the transition period between cold and warm weather where we get a lot of rain. That hasn’t happened. We’ve gone straight into warm. We’re all wondering when the rain is going to come.

Languedoc vineyard

watering system

When I went back a few days later, the trough was filled in and the watering system already in place. Elsewhere in the vines, spring weather makes for pleasant work. I’m going to keep my eye on this newly ploughed area to see what is planted.

Languedoc new vineyard

I wonder what’s going in here?

In another area they are replacing the wire supports.

Rolls of wire are trucked into the vineyards; those cute little tractors ferry the materials to where they’re needed. The guy in the cab has his coat on, but the temperature reached 25 degrees in the shade that day. I know because we had our lunch outdoors on our little terrace.

Languedoc terrace in March

lunch outdoors in March

In the sun, of course, the temperature goes off the scale. Here’s what we recorded.

40degrees

fantastic for early March

 

 

 

Languedoc vineyard

cute tractor, huh?

new wires for Languedoc vines

gotta keep your vines supported.

As a rule, this post goes out on Wednesdays. It’s the Wednesday Vine Report. Regular readers will be aware I was knocked down by a car in December and I’m still recovering from injuries I sustained. So, the report is late. It won’t be every week until I’m better able to handle my camera.

Thank you for your kind messages on Facebook and Twitter.

I’m still hanging in there!

Even though the physiotherapy is agony!!!

At least, I can still lift a glass with my good arm.

Languedoc aperitif

Noilly Pratt made in Languedoc

Cheers!

Do send me a message, or sign up for a reminder of my new posts.

 

Languedoc Wine Tasting Report 6th November

November in Languedoc

November can be a strange month in Languedoc. Weather is changeable. The wind tests itself, blowing a hooley one day, stroking you the next. But not cold yet. No. That comes later. November is often humid when the Marin comes from the south and brings some dirty weather, grey and grotty.

Languedoc vines November

vines in November

The vines are not pretty. But you might get lucky and find some bunches left behind after the harvest. They are often right at the bottom of the plants where the machines have missed.

It’s good walking weather, though, and there are plenty of routes to keep the ramblers happy.

Hang on a minute. Didn’t this used to be the Vine Report on Wednesdays?

It did. But the vines are empty now. They’re getting ready to go to sleep. In some vineyards, the growers have already begun the mammoth hand-pruning work.

handpruning vines

all done by hand

You can see their white vans when you’re out walking the hills.

However, as promised, my route has taken me not to the great outdoors, but to a selection of venues for wine tasting. So it isn’t the Wednesday Vine report now – it’s the Wine Tasting Report.

There’s a lot of wine tasting to be done in Languedoc. You could spend a lifetime and still have only scratched the surface.

On his 101 Books to Read, writer Robert Bruce is currently reading book #63 on the Times Magazine 100 greatest novels list. His blog is really popular and rightly so. He reviews the books as he reads them, but his most popular posts are the ones where he gets sidetracked a little. Don’t we all get sidetracked? That’s why I call my blog page Random Thoughts.

Robert’s ambition is achievable. You can read 101 books. I don’t know what he’ll do when he’s finished the Times list. Maybe he’ll start another list, but what I’m getting at in my roundabout way is I could never taste all the wines there are sitting waiting for me out there. I could kill myself trying or end up in some rehab clinic. So, my ambition must be achievable.

Wine tasting in my own back yard

This is where I’m starting. It makes sense. Everybody and his aunty makes wine in my neck of the woods, so I won’t have to travel far.

Languedoc wine cooperative

vats, boxes and bottles

This looks like Happy Land to me.

Languedoc wine discussion

wine tasting gets serious!

Himself and a friend enjoy discussing what they like best in a wine.

We’re not experts. We can’t tell you the finer points of winemaking and tasting. But we know what we like and what we would buy to take home and give to our dinner guests.

Languedoc wine has come a long way from the cheap plonk that might have been better on your fish and chips. Some of this stuff is superb. So, we have made it our business to visit Domaines and cooperatives where we haven’t visited already and taste their wines. (Rubs hands with glee.)

Vinopolis in Florensac is five minutes away. Why haven’t we been there before? Don’t people often tend to overlook what is right there on their doorstep? We’d heard about it from friends who use the restaurant there. What a great idea, huh? A lunch time venue where you can get great food and try wine from the cellar before you buy cartons to take home.

Vinopolis

great food, great wine at Vinopolis

We tasted several wines from their fabulous range and because the day was warm we decided to stay with the whites.

One of the biggest surprises for me was their Muscat. This is a wine I usually overlook, having been disappointed before on account of it being too thin and sweet for my taste.

Not so. I loved it. It had much more depth than I was expecting – a really fruity taste that made your whole mouth sing. We bought 6 to take home to give a good old try out.

wine tasting empties

wine tasting empties

We also bought their Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc which, as you can see from the lable on the right has won the gold medallion at the Paris nationals.

The Rébus and the bottle of petit grain came from the vigneron at Bessan, one of our favourite places to sample.

And so, there is much to look forward to this coming season. I look forward to posting again.

Cheers!

Florensac cellar

Languedoc Vine Report #27 October 9th

Languedoc Harvest Continues

After a rainstorm last Saturday night we have been having an Indian summer. I’m using the term in its English form, meaning a late period of warm weather. In the USA, an Indian summer comes after a period of frost, apparently. We’ve had no frost, but warm temperatures are continuing at least for the time being.

The harvest continues. Master of Wine Juliet Bruce Jones played her cards well. You remember last week she was watching the forecasts. She decided to wait. The rain came. It was heavy, but the air stayed warm and after the rain passed, the sun came out again as warm as ever. She harvests her Domaine Lou Cayla grapes on Thursday this week.

Remember Mademoiselle Merlot?

Languedoc harvest

all that’s left

Harvesting machines came through this vineyard just two days after my last report. I had to be there. When you’ve been visiting a bunch of grapes since its conception and birth and you’ve watched it grow and mature, you become a bit protective. I wanted to say goodbye. How sad is that?

Here’s a year in the life of one bunch of grapes.

[easingsliderlite]

And now she’s gone. With all her sisters. We’ll meet again in a bottle of one of my favourite wines.

Merlotbottle

our village Merlot

And when the cold weather comes, we’ll warm her up by the log fire and maybe add a few mulling spices. Oh, my. I’ll look forward to that!

Cheers!

Join me next week for more news from the Languedoc vineyards.

 

 

Languedoc Vine Report #26 2nd October

The Languedoc grape harvest continues. It’s hard to believe our Mademoiselle is still on the vine.

Languedoc Merlot

still waiting!

In the village centre, at the cooperative it’s all systems go, bringing in the reds as they become ready. Some varieties take longer than others to reach optimum.

How much longer to wait?

Master of Wine, Juliet Bruce Jones, is watching weather forecasts and is waiting. Playing her cards. It’s a gamble, but the forecasts for our region are looking good with temperatures remaining in the high 20s.

Juliet grows Carignan and Mourvèdre grape varieties and already has her Rosé bubbling away. The reds need longer, though to lose some of their acidity. She tells me she’s confident one more week’s warm sunshine will bring her harvest home. You can follow Juliet’s Domaine Lou Cayla on her website.

Weather this week has been ideal.

Languedoc dawn

beautiful dawn sky

We recorded 30 degrees in the shade of our terrace and it’s still warm enough to get in our unheated pool.

Up in Bordeaux, they’re still worrying about the weather. Growers are confident, however, that all will be well. They’ve had harvests as late as this before: they know how to do it.

And so, autumn is upon us.

Languedoc autumn

ideal hill-walking weather

Time to get out there and do some more walking.

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You wouldn’t want to miss any, would you? Coming soon – a tour of our cooperative.

So for now, I’ll say Cheers! See you next time.

Languedoc Vine Report #25. September 25th

It’s September 25th and my twenty-fifth Languedoc Vine Report. When I began this weekly account of our local vineyards I didn’t realise a person could become so attached to a bunch of grapes on a vine. I’ve been taking photos of Mademoiselle Merlot since April when she was only a naked piece of vine wood.

What’s happening in the Languedoc vineyards?

It’s all happening. Last week there was a lull. After the whites had been harvested, the land fell quiet again. We were waiting for the reds.

Languedoc moon

harvest moon

Then, in the early hours, it was like War of the Worlds out there in the hills. There are lights everywhere – harvesters, tractors and trailers. The landscape is alive with activity and noise.

Every light you see twinkling in the background is another group of wine growers working to bring in the harvest. Apologies for the quality of the filming. It was 4.30 am. At this time of the year there’s no light till around 6.30. I waited for first light.

Languedoc dawn

Languedoc dawn

and made another shaky film.

This shows how the harvesters shake the fruit from the vines. In the distance the Montagnes Noir glowed pink in early sunlight.

Languedoc hills

pink dawn glow

Tractors load up and head for the cooperative. Notice how much liquid there is already!

In a previous Languedoc Vine Report you saw what happens when the fruit arrives at the cave. I’m planning another visit to the cooperative after harvesting is finished to show you what happens next.

Elsewhere in France the harvest is just as late as here in Languedoc. In Champagne, for example, they have only just begun.

This morning, mist rolled in from the Mediterranean. The air feels damp. They’ll need to finish this harvest quickly now. This may be the last photograph we will have of Mademoiselle Merlot before she gets whisked off to join her cousins.

Languedoc Merlot

Mademoiselle Merlot

I’m sure she’s going to taste just as good as she looks.

Autumn in the Languedoc vineyards

Elsewhere, the vineyards are looking autumnal. Leaves have changed colour. You can see where the harvesting machines have left behind some bunches at the bottom of the vines.

Languedoc autumn

freebies!

I looked out for more seasonal signs on the walk home.

autumn vines

vines in autumn

waiting for harvest

hanging around waiting

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember when I took this photograph of pomegranate flowers?

pomegranate flowers

bright orange pomegranate flowers

Look in the hedgerow today to see what’s there.

Languedoc country lanes hold a lot of surprises.

Last week, it was free figs and we made jam with them.

Today, there are enough pomegranates to make your own grenadine.

Languedoc pomegranates

more free fruit!

Join me next week for the latest news from the Languedoc vineyards. Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you. You can follow on Twitter @cmicklefield and I keep a Celia Micklefield author page on Facebook. See you there,

Cheers!

Celia

Languedoc Vine Report# 24. September 18th

Last week I reported the Languedoc grape harvest was under way. The vendange has continued with picking at night. By first light, most growers were taking the last load of the day to the cooperative.

On one of my early morning outings, I found a local grower with an older harvesting machine, bringing in the last of his Sauvignon Blanc. The sun was up. I guessed he had a later slot at the weighing station. The driver was well prepared for hot Languedoc sun. His borrowed parasol made me smile.

Languedoc Sauvignon Blanc

with a parasol!

Here he is getting ready to turn into the next row. Cute, huh? I mean the parasol. Then he offloads into the waiting trailer.

So, we had a few days of business in the vineyards, the noise of the harvesting machines waking me at silly o’clock and then . . . nothing. It all went very quiet.

Languedoc vineyards

not a harvesting machine in sight.

Silence in the Languedoc vineyards

What was happening? I spoke to people in the know.

Yes, they said, it’s back to the waiting game. The reds are still not ready.

But what about the ones I saw going into the cooperative last week?

Probably Pinot Noir. Not a lot of it grown in Languedoc, but nothing else is ready to pick.

Here’s proof. Here’s our Mademoiselle Merlot. If they don’t pick her soon, won’t she turn into an old maid?

Languedoc Merlot

lady in waiting

So, we wait. And the cooperative stands idle. And the vineyards are quiet again.

Meanwhile, in Montpellier, scientists headquartered at INRA have been examining cells in grapes in attempts to discover where tannins come from.

The source is the tannosome, a previously undiscovered organism that is found in most plants. Up until now, no one knew exactly where tannins are made. Scientists could view them under a microscope stored in plant cells, but couldn’t work out how they got there.

However, techniques were employed to re-examine the cells, discovering that the organelles (smaller bodies within the cells) are the source of tannins.
One of the researchers, Geneviève Conéjéro, said that tannins “give a feeling of pungency in the mouth, the feel of a cat’s tongue licking your hand.”

So, now we know. Next time you get that cat’s tongue feeling, you can impress your friends and say,

Ah, that’s the tannosome effect.

Well, all that’s very interesting, but what can you do when you’re writing a Languedoc Vine Report and there’s no harvesting to film?

You can harvest something yourself.

Languedoc figs

what’s himself got his eye on?

There’s something interesting in that hedgerow.

And we’ve got shopping bags in the back of the car.

Hmmm.

Himself investigates.

Figs grow wild

figs growing wild

Aha! says he. There’s probably enough here to make something with.

I’ve never made fig jam before, but it can’t be that difficult can it?

He set to work. It helps being over 6ft tall when it comes to tasks like this.

fig harvesting

filling up a crate

They take some finding, these little free beauties. They hide under the leaves and it’s not until you get right in there you can see where they are.

figs hiding

ripe figs

The boy done good. There’s enough here to make a good few pots of jam.

Languedoc figs

how many jars of jam?

I looked online for a recipe. The figs went in the pot.

figs in the jam pot

smelling good already

Add sugar and lemon juice. How easy is that?

A nice loaf of Alien Bread fresh from the machine and – breakfast is ready!

Alien bread and fig jam

Yum!

Join me next week for more news on the late Languedoc grape harvest 2013.

And please write me if there’s something you’d like to know. I’ll do my best to get an answer for you.

Cheers!

 

 

 

Languedoc Vine Report #23 September 11th

The Languedoc vendange has begun. They started bringing in some of the whites last weekend. In the darkness of the early hours, the vineyards are alive with lights and noise. They’re harvesting at night as this is when sugar levels are most stable. Cool fruit means better control over the fermentation process.

Languedoc Domaine

this way to one of our favourite wines

One of our favourite Domaines always picks at night. Here’s a video from Domaine de La Baume whose Viognier regularly wins prizes.

Video-La-Baume-51.html

La Baume was one of the first to pick the grapes entirely at night and to adopt and master micro-oxygenation to preserve the freshness and fruitiness for several years. Their oenologists have a unique approach to vine-growing, carefully managing the size and leaf surface area to maximise the beneficial effects of the Languedoc sun. Their wine-making process aims to reveal the aromas of the grapes with a minimum of intervention. The wines have the distinctive taste of the terroir that they handle with care.

We often take visitors to a wine tasting at La Baume. Nobody has ever been disappointed.

News from the devastated vineyards around Bordeaux

Some wine growers lost up to 80% of their harvest this year due to hailstorms.

Bordeaux vines

ravaged vines in Bordeaux

Enormous hail stones ripped the vines to shreds as you can see from the photo above.

According to Helen Tate of Cult Wines, the authorities have agreed a notion to allow Bordeaux wine producers to bend the rules a little and buy in bulk wines. They are supposed to source extra AOC wine from the same appellation.

Ah, but, I live in Languedoc where the wine is not of the same appellation. So why is it I have seen tankers with Bordeaux registration plates coming to our local Vignerons to fill up?

buying bulk from Languedoc

buying in bulk from Languedoc

You can make your own minds up about that one.

Weather has been changeable since last week’s report. On Saturday, the heavens opened. The sky looked like the end of days and rain lashed us for a good 12 hours. I went out afterwards to see how our Merlot was faring.

Languedoc Merlot

luscious

Now these vines look ready. We watched the forecasts and kept looking at the sky. In the distance, the peaks of the Pyrenees loomed like malevolent shadows.

Languedoc Pyrenees

distant shadows

Over the Montagnes Noir, more storm clouds were gathering.

Languedoc storm clouds

more rain on the way?

 

 

Fortunately, the storms passed us by. The sun came out again.

And then, this morning, lo and behold! They’re bringing in the reds! Yay! I dashed to the vigneron to see what was happening.

trailer weighing

getting the weight ticket

Each trailer is first weighed empty. The wine grower gets his ticket and drives to his vineyard to meet the harvesting machines.

When he returns with his loaded trailer, he is weighed again and his account credited.

The trailer backs up to the loading chutes. The tailgate opens and, voilà! The 2013 harvest has begun.

tipping the grapes

here they come!

Time to sort the good bits from the waste.

Soon, the village will have that yeasty smell in the air. I can’t wait!

Languedoc harvest

 Next week, I hope to have video clips of the harvesting machines in action in the vineyards.

See you then!

 

Languedoc Vine Report #22. September 4th

We had a visit from our mayor. You remember him – he’s always out and about in our village  attending all the festivities etc.

bank dispenser

our mayor at the opening of our village cash machine

our mayor in Languedoc

our mayor enjoying wine tasting

We’d had cause to ask him to intervene on a dispute with a neighbour who was burning foul stuff every Sunday morning in his barbecue.

I’m not talking chickens here. The smoke spiralling from the chimney on his barbecue was thick and black and toxic. I took photos for proof and after we’d complained to the neighbour, we took the photos to the Mairie as evidence of our grievance.

The French do like to get behind a good grievance.

At seven o’clock every Sunday morning, smoke like this stuff constitutes a good grievance, so off we went to complain.

By the way, we have an ally in reception at the mayor’s office. She lives at the corner of our cul-de-sac and was able to verify that she too had experienced the choking black smoke.

The mayor sorted the problem and the toxic black smoke ceased.

Then, some days later the mayor showed up at our gate. We thought he’d come to check everything was okay. No, he had come with a complaint from a neighbour about our hedge being too high.

Aha! we thought. This is a tit-for-tat issue, suggested this was the case and led the mayor around our property to show that there really wasn’t a problem with the hedge.

It turned out, he’d made a mistake. It was a different neighbour about a different hedge, but because the address was so close to our smoke complaint the mayor had made the same ‘tit-for-tat’ assumption as we had. He came back to apologise for his error. I made coffee, we sat for a Franglais chat and that was when we learned the harvest is 15 days late.

Late harvest

The cold weather I reported throughout spring has indeed led to a much later grape harvest than is usual. It’s much worse in other areas in France. In the Bordeaux region, they’ve had hail as Cult Wines reports. Hailstones big as ping pong balls. Ouch! And similar problems in the Champagne region. So, I guess, we’re lucky to be only late rather than damaged. According to Monsieur le Maire, some reds may be as late as October.

I set off on my rounds as usual to see what I could find.

What’s happening this week

My next door neighbour is growing grapes over his car port.

Languedoc vines

grapes in the garden

Netting keeps the birds off. It looks as if he has a good crop for the table this year.

In the vineyards, even though everybody is playing a waiting game as far as the grapes are concerned, there are still jobs to do.

hedge trimming

clearing the path for the harvesting machines

Hedges grow rapidly in Languedoc sunshine. This winegrower is busy trimming back wild Cotinus trees that flower with pink, smoke-like tendrils in spring. These ones, however, are right at the point where the harvesters need to turn round into the next row. It’s another example of good Languedoc housekeeping.

Further up the hill, another winegrower is clearing out between the rows.

harvest preparation

getting ready

Cuttings and weeds are going into the container. He’s also smoothing ruts in the soil to prepare the way for the grape harvesting machines.

At the cooperative Vigneron, they’re running the machinery and making checks.

Languedoc wine cooperative

home of ‘Fleurs de Montblanc’ and ‘Larmes d’Alexandria’

Here is where the grapes will arrive for our lovely Fleurs de Montblanc and the new range Les Larmes d’Alexandria.

I’ll be there to film as the grapes are dropped into the chutes.

Today, they were busy checking to see everything is turning as it should.

They were running the belts.

waste collecting

where the skins go

Nothing is wasted. They collect unwanted grape skins for making compost.

This morning, they were also testing the lifting screws.

grape chute

where the grapes go

The Archimedes type screw lifts the grapes up out of the chute. Once everything gets going, the village hums. No, literally. It hums. The wine machinery hums until you get so used to hearing it, you can’t hear it any more.

Along the lanes, it’s beginning to look like autumn.

Languedoc autumn

September colours

Dried grasses and early morning mistiness add to the end-of-summer atmosphere. Snails cling to what’s left of their grazing grounds.

snail grass

hundreds of tiny snails

 

 

 

Yet when you look  closely into the vines, there’s obviously some way to go before they’re ready. In amongst all the dark reds and purples, there are green youngsters, nowhere near mature enough for harvesting.

Languedoc Merlot

not ready yet!

Back home along the lanes, I’ve spotted blackberries and other autumn fruits.

almonds

one furry almond case has split open

It’s a wonderful time of year for grandmas to take little ones out into the countryside to see what they can find.

I saw this charming couple and couldn’t resist snatching a photograph. Together, I think these two are an artist’s dream subject. I love the way the light catches them as they crouch to look at something on the path.

 

looking at insects

finding something interesting

That’s all for this week’s Languedoc Vine Report. See you next week.

 

 

 

 

Languedoc Vine Report #21 August 28th

 

Writer in Languedoc has had her short break back in the good old UK. It’s great to see family and friends and revisit old haunts.

Now I’m back to see what’s happening in the vineyards near my home in France.

Here’s this week’s photo of our Mademoiselle Merlot.

Languedoc Merlot

almost there!

Compare photos from previous weeks.

Merlot August 14th

August 14th

Languedoc Merlot

August 7th

 

 

 

Languedoc weather has been perfect for ripening the grapes. The vineyards look as if they’re ready to burst!

Languedoc vines

heavy with fruit

The whites are looking just as luscious.

Languedoc Chardonnay

yummy!

Looking back toward the village, you can hardly see the houses through lush vine growth.

Languedoc wine village

can harvest be far away?

It’s a waiting game now. A quiet time.

Many holidaymakers have already left. This coming weekend will see the last mass exodus when traffic is nose to tail at the péage. (Road toll)

Only a few visitors remain – retired folks and families with children under school age. Oh, and the bikers. Last week in August sees the Harleys and the Goldwings filling the promenade at Cap d’Agde, their owners occupying all the seats at Moules a Volonté – all you can eat mussels – or oysters. Cap d’Agde is the setting for my summer short story Aquapark Blues. Read it soon before I put up a new story.

When all the summer visitors have left, we get the beaches back to ourselves. Picnic spots are deserted. Touring dance bands are heading north. The noisiest things left are cicadas singing in the trees.

Summer holidays are consigned to memory. Soon, our village will be noisy again, with the sounds of the vendange – bringing in the grapes to the cooperative and I’ll be out and about, bringing you the sights and sounds of the grape harvest courtesy of my trusty little Coolpix. I’m a writer – I always have my camera with me. Besides, I’m one of those people who enjoys spotting something unusual. And, I usually do.

My short break in Norfolk, England brought a few surprises. On a familiar lane I found an unfamiliar sight.

vines in Norfolk

young Norfolk vines

I didn’t expect to see young vineyards stretching across Norfolk fields.

Last time I looked, the place was full of sugar beet!

There are no fruits. The plants are too young, and, I have to say, are looking a little spindly. However, I’m fascinated to find out what they’re growing under Norfolk skies, and, more to the point, what it’s going to taste like.

vineyard in Norfolk, England

vineyard in Norfolk

vines in Norfolk

a new English landscape

Oak trees and grape vines  in the same shot? Is this the changing face of the Norfolk countryside?

I’ll have to wait and see.

Join me next week when we should have news about the first grape picking.

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