The tradition , in France, of growing grapes and making wine for ones own consumption
is dying. The reasons are many: the law (one is not allowed to plant, or even re-plant, a
vineyard except commercially); the depopulation of the countryside as, with mechanisation,
less people are needed to work the land; reduced consumption (when most farm work was
performed by hand it was not uncommon for 2 litres or more of wine to be drunk, per person,
per day!); the work needed to maintain a small vineyard; etc., etc..
The day to day necessity of trying to make a living, with generally falling producer prices, ever changing quotas and increasing bureaucracy, together with the relative cheapness of (better ?) wines from supermarkets and "vignerons", makes it uneconomic for the modern "Paysan" to spend time and effort on land upon which he could be growing crops or grazing cattle.
Hence, in a very few years, this little web page may be the record of a dead tradition.
"Le Vendange" - the harvesting of grapes for wine-making - takes place in the village of Allevier in the Haute-Loire during early October. Traditionally, grapes are picked in time to ensure that the first wine is ready to be sampled at the "buvette", (after church!), on the fete of Ste Bonnette, the patron Saint of the village, which takes place on the Sunday following the 16th October.
Family, friends and neighbours join in to pick the grapes
and to carry them to the trailer in "paniers",
from which they are tipped into "bacholes".
The trailer is brought back to the "cuvage" and the "bacholes" are emptied into the "cuve",
where they are trodden gently before some of the lightly coloured juice is drawn back into the "bacholes".
This juice is then siphoned into "barriques" down in the "Cave" where
it ferments to become "Vin Rose".
The remainder of the juice ferments with the remnants of the grapes inthe "cuve"
and magically turns into "Vin Rouge".
It is then siphoned into "barriques" down in the "Cave". In Winter the temperature in the village may dip to -15 degrees and in Summer rise to over 40 but within the "Cave" the temperature stays between 12 and 14 degrees.
Then all one needs to do is wait........
.... until the Fete !