Monday, July 30, 2012

Vines, Rose', and Tears

I made the kilometer trek up to Sylvans vines, apprehensivly. Last week I saw him meeting with a local vineyard consultant, after the consultant drove away I went to see Sylvan. "The harvest will be easy this year", he said slowly, he looked back to the Merlot vines he had worked on for the last five months. "They were hurt badly with the late springs frost." I felt the hairs on the back of my neck bristle, my heart ached for him. "I am lucky if there will be two hundred bottles". I choked back tears and nodded, looked at the wounded rows of Merlot vines, they showed no outward signs of the crippling wounds the frost had left.
I first met him when our well had gone dry, Mr Coussy ( The man we Purchased the Petit Clos Farm from.)had arranged for him to drop by and deliver a tank of potable water to help my family. We solved the problem by hooking a temporary tether from our neighbors house water supply to ours. But I would never forget him offering to help us. During the rains that spring, two years ago, his van got stuck on the rural road beside our property and I noticed. So I got the old Ford tractor started and drove to his aid, we hooked up a chain and I reversed down the muddy gravel road. Afterward, as we're getting soaked, I was coiling up the chain and he looked at me grinning and said. "The French have a saying, good friendships are usually started by good deeds." I drove the old Ford back to its spot in the large steel barn, glowing inside from this meeting. I have pulled him out on occasion and he usually drops by later that same day with a bottle of his Rose'. I have worked on the 1450 vines, backbreaking work, in all kinds of weather, freezing pruning of the vines, sweltering hot days spraying sulfer and copper from his borrowed gas backpack spraying machine. Weaving the adolescent vines and later clipping the tops of the sprouting vines, so they stay within the wire trellis system, also backbreaking work. Weeding constantly so the vines get what moisture they can without weeds robbing the rain water. It is prohibited to water vines manually, they must subsist by themselves. He works during the days for a vineyard in the area, then after hours he tends his vines, four times as many as mine. He would show up after work around six and stay until exactley nine oclock, then race the 6 kilometers to his house where his daughter Claire would be waiting for him to kiss her goodnight. That accomplished he would race back to his vines, recharged by the love of his daughter. Again he returns to work the vast rows of his tertiary love. I am addicted to my vines, I have never been a gardener, not even remotely competent at keeping green things alive. This year we took the plunge in taking care of our vineyard that was included with our farm, I would be given a pointer course in vine pruning. We arranged to meet a local British vintner, he gave me a half hour course in the finer points of spring pruning, then left me looking at the remainind 1400 vines. GULP. The weather temperature dropped, and so I layered up and ventured out into the unknown. After a week of pruning, the vines were set for spring. Sylvan would drop by and inspect and fine tune my budding pruning talent. I would work 8 or 9 hours and be heading into the house as he would be showing up to work his vines.
: Since watching the movie "Sideways", I've been a Pinot Noir fan, skipped white wine and rose' and went straight to Reds. I love the full bodied reds with the vast tastes within. Well Sylvan dropped off one of his Rose's when I pulled his car from the mire. I think I begrudginly took a glass with Cindy and thought one glass and then I could tell him we tried it. Gotta tell ya, I thought rose' from Provence was the measuring stick, this blew the Provencial Rose's out of the water. His is a Merlot grape, that he add a miniscule dash of sugar and it opens up the floodgates of flavor. It has the full bodied makeup of its Red cousins, but it also refreshes. Sitting by the pool with friends, its like kool aid for grown ups. We now purchase six packs of his Rose' telling him our clients and family are the ones drinking up all our Rose' stores, liars. So today I made the kilometer trek up to Sylvans vines, and walked by the rows of wounded vines. I though of all his sacrifices that he made for his third love and inspected his grape bunches. They were like raisins, with a smattering of healthy still green grapes struggling to make it. There were vines wiped out by mildew in small leper like gatherings. Further into the rows the grapes got better, there was hope; but at that point I already had tears running down my face.