6am is early.

…I was thinking this place is huge. And cool. Hugely cool.

6am is early but I was looking forward to the morning ahead.

Still felt rough with a fairly noticeable headache; unusually not from wine. Quick shower. Out to Julien’s house, which is about ten metres from the winery where we are staying; the aircraft hanger filled with massive stainless steel tanks and houses four rooms and a bathroom on its balcony. Its pretty basic but very cool to be sleeping next to all the tanks of Cab Franc and Merlot.

Breakfast and we’re off. Boots and gloves on and secateurs at the ready.

We head up to the vineyard just across the quiet country road. Its about an hectare (a football pitch). It looks huge (I’m sure partly because it is filled with row upon row upon endless-bloody-spaced-out row of bright, bushy green). Yea it looks huge but it only gets  bigger as we work in teams of two – each the other side of the others vine. Edging along we clear the canapy of anything pointless, effectively. And about an hour in I turn back and we’ve made little progress. I think we did two rows in five hours. But my headaches gone.

Luckily it wasn’t too hot and we all had banter. Except for the Spanish ones because… they’re Spanish and don’t speak a word of English and vice versa… Except I’m a bloody Brit. Hopefully the sign language will suffice but I’ve got enough on my plate with the French and I think adding a couple of Spaniards in is too much. Sorry. But it is.

There’s a lovely German girl, who’s training, effectively, as a wine Chemist. She taught me what to rip off the vine and what to definitely not – it’s pretty nervy knowing if you go wrong and pull off the wrong bits you could be wrecking next years harvest – and I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. She is fluent English, has ze repartee, and humoured my viticultural ignorance. And then there are the two surfers: a Cornish couple who are properly upbeat and good quality.

And then Julien who’s the most chilled out guy I’ve ever met. Very philosophical and clearly knows a shit-tonne about wine and is able to not worry about the fact he’s got NINE acres ( which he says is “yea man, that’s like, typical around theses types of areas”) but still gets it all done. And made. And made well: it tastes good. The wines taste good.

I know. I tried it. At lunch and dinner. Luckily they don’t go too hard. We work 6 ‘til twelve and then break for lunch. Then we break all the way ‘til dinner. Then we go to bed and wake up hopefully to clouds and 28°C but no rain. Tomorrow’s forecast at 36° sunny. So good luck with that. It is gonna be hooooooot.

But I’m finding it all really interesting and I’m learning so much and I’m finding it all cool so I’m thinking these two weeks will fly by.

I was walking round the other vineyards today: having a little “Steve Jobs: I’ll invent the apple off-on-my-own walk”. And I was thinking this place is huge. And cool. Hugely cool.
But I’m thinking now… that chateau with thirty hectares of vines: mammon…might have to give up that pipedream. Its seven or eight hectares tops.

Tomorrow: 6am.


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