I don’t want to miss out anything important from my Vine Reports. Sometimes, there are things happening in the vines that I’d miss if I waited for Wednesday. That’s why on Sunday morning when I heard engines and activity at first light I was up out of bed and rushing out the door camera in hand. This is what was going on:
Wine growers spray the crops with a copper sulphate mixture to prevent powdery mildew, a fungus that can affect grapes and decimate harvests. At the brow of the hill, there’s an old-fashioned water pump. Due to our location close to mountains and river gorges, our aquifers can be quite high after heavy spring rain. Water races toward the villages in the foothills. Drainage ditches fill with fresh water, rich in minerals.
The wine growers add water to their tanks of copper sulphate to make the right mixture. It’s like what we common or garden growers would call Bordeaux mixture. Professor of botany Pierre Millardet of the university of Bordeaux discovered in the late 1800s that a mixture of copper sulphate and lime had fungicidal properties.
I like these cute little tractors. They remind me of some of the picture books I used to read with my children. Working machines all had sweet little faces and going out to work physically hard looked such jolly good fun children wanted to do it when they grew up.
I can still remember some of the words of favourite Ladybird books. Weren’t they wonderful illustrations too? Oh, shouldn’t all children have those to look at when they’re little? And aren’t the originals just the best, or am I just feeling my age?
Who could ever forget . . .Little Tommy, Ginger’s neighbour called for Ginger every day. Took him out in wind and sunshine, out across the fields to play . . .
I’d better stop. I’m filling up!
Back to the vineyards. The tractors might be cutesy looking things but they work hard, out in the wind and sunshine, out across the fields to . . . work the vines, clear the rows, protect the grapes from powdery mildew.
Here’s how the Merlot vineyard looked on Sunday morning. I was waiting for this morning for the up to date close-up.
The sun was in exactly the wrong place for this early morning photograph of our vineyard of Merlot grapes. Our Mademoiselle is in there, front row, doing very nicely.
Spraying takes place every 6 to 10 days, depending on the temperature and humidity etc., but according to one wine grower, you can cease spraying once the grapes are set. I suppose they all have their preferred methods based on what their fathers and grandfathers did before. They probably still argue over which method is best.
Wine growers are always first to gather at the Bar in the village centre. You can see them having their early morning coffee and pastis before they return to work. Their faces are lined by the sun; their hands gnarled by the wind. They look like their own vines.
So here she is, our Mademoiselle Merlot. She’s looking perky this morning, wouldn’t you say? The sun is already casting shadows and I’m out here in the vineyards by myself. Soon there’ll be dog walkers and a few serious runners. As summer progresses, they’ll be out earlier before it gets too hot.
And now, Mr de Mille, I’m ready for my close-up.
Aww! Baby grapes! Oh-la-la, Mademoiselle. You are soooo beautiful. Hold it right there. Don’t flutter a leaf. Let me drink you in.
Not yet, Celia. Don’t get carried away. This is the Vine Report not a cheesy chapter in second rate erotica. Pull yourself together. What’s happening in the Chardonnay vineyard?
A fine sight. I can almost hear corks popping.