You place me in any French Home Depot type store, and I can talk for hours describing what I need, what I’m doing, and how much I need. (It’s called Brico Depot over here…I have no f-ing idea what it means…either.) However…if you get three guys in my vineyard pontificating in French about the various methodologies and requirements about the different cause and effects of the last three weeks of weather…yeah just like that. They could be describing Pythagoreans Theorem, Pythagoreans wife’s sexual proclivities, or Pythagoreans wife was having sex with Pericles.
My point you ask:
What with the bizarre weather we’ve had the last few weeks; it was fast approaching time to harvest the vines. My vintner savior Sylvan dropped by to see how the grapes were doing. We spoke for a while and I informed him that I had stopped by the winery that was buying my grapes. I had spoken to so and so about having his tractor harvest my grapes. Sylvan looked at me and said. “He is the representative for the winery, he does not harvest, Henri.”
“Well, I’m… you know what… out of luck,” I think to myself. Sylvan takes his cell phone out of his pocket and calls a few numbers. “They are being busy with the harvest; I will call a few more people from home and let you know.” I genuflected and he left.
Not three hours later he drops by the house with a piece of paper and a phone number on it. “Be calling him tomorrow morning. “I again thank him profusely and he shrugs like it’s nothing, and leaves.
Next day I call the phone number, after four hours of calling this number, it never rings through. I thought it was not turned on, but it didn’t even go to the mail box. Sylvan stops by later in the day. “Everything is good Henri?” I describe to him the amount of times I called the cell phone and shrug. “Let me make some calls later.” I’m feeling like some village somewhere really needs me back, as the stand in village idiot surpassed their requirements and they want the old village idiot back.
Again next day, I’m just taking a break from cutting the fallen trees from a bizarre thunder/lightning/horizontal rain/hail cluster f**k, and Sylvan drives up. “Not to be worrying Henri. Everything is set up for Monday at eight…eight thirty.” I can’t tell you how helpful it was, to coordinate the harvest machine and the tractor with the grape trailer (water tight) and he called the winery and scheduled that as well. If I had tried this on the morning of the harvest the harvesting machine would have been waiting for three hours for the tractor grape trailer, then it would have gone to the winery the one day it was closed.
As I’ve always said…One hand washes the others back….It really pisses Sylvan when I show up at bath time, his wife is getting a little leery. All kidding aside Cindy and I will be helping Sylvan hand pick his two different types of grapes. So that will be one full day each of backbreaking work, on following weekends. I still think I got the better end of the deal…because during the full day of harvesting…see they have this two hour lunch as a thanks to all the friends and family who pitch in. No great thing really…just the usual suspects…baguette, cheese, dried sausage, white wine, red wine, cold cuts, nap, more cheese, baguette, red wine, a little more red wine.
This year I will bring my pocket knife, everyone brings one….except for me last year. One of the guys asked his child if I could borrow their French equivalent of a Playskool knife, and if the child wouldn’t mind showing me how to correctly use it.
So…to end this tale. I’m standing out by the vines at 7:30 on the morning of the harvest. I see down the road a harvester approaching. They are the oddest looking vehicles, they straddle the row of vines and harvest by means of vibrating bowed fiberglass arms that drop the grapes to a conveyor belt. They are then transported into these large stainless steel bins on either side of the harvester. The leaves and fingers are separated and….kidding, come on…they are ejected through a side port.
The guy driving the harvester lines it up on a row and waits for his boss to arrive, two minutes later. Then Sylvan arrives and shakes everyone’s hand. I still can’t believe how fortunate we are. To have a guardian vigneron (winemaker) watching over us.