Season of Mellow Fruitfulness
It's late September and the grape harvest isn't the only one that is underway in the Languedoc.
FOOD, WINE AND HOMETRAVEL THROUGH FRANCESEASONSGARDENING
I'm not sure about the mists but there is no doubt about it, the season of mellow fruitfulness is upon us. Since late August narrow tractors have been trundling along our roads, the distance between their tyres a perfect fit to proceed between rows of vines. If you are unlucky you might come across a giant mechanical harvester like this one, wide enough to straddle the rows. Some domaines may still harvest by hand , but these big brutes are a common sight nowadays. Looking at a field of harvested vines , after one of these machines has done its work , we saw a large number of shrivelling grapes that had been left behind . It was a sad sight. Gleaning is perfectly legal in France as you may already know from Agnes Varda's film 'The Gleaners.' There would be much to gather if you were so inclined. .
The harvest continues throughout September as great trailers are filled with grapes and usually taken to be tipped at one of the many cave cooperatives throughout the area. But this is not the only harvest that is going on now. Last week, as we were returning home we spotted a number of vehicles in our valley. As we mounted the forest road we looked down to see a large ladder lying between the rows of olives and a small group of strangers. It was clear that our neighbour's olive harvest was underway. Around here the olives are picked by hand, and not shaken into nets as we have seen elsewhere. There are two small scale olive growers in our village, and every year we buy our supply of oil from R. He takes his olives to a cooperative, but unlike some producers, he knows that the returned product is from his own olives. It is golden, slightly peppery and delicious. Anxious to know whether he could supply us again this year, considering the long dry summer, we were relieved to learn that the 'rendement' or harvest is good and there will be enough oil for us. The harvest of his green olives is complete. These olives will make a stronger more peppery oil, higher in antioxidants and polyphenols. In November his whole family will be out again helping gather in the the black olives.