It was an excellent experience - part of the vineyard site is a hard standing area about 100 metres by 50 metres with fresh water, grey waste and foul waste disposal facilities, together with a small toilet block - and there were around 30 vans, the vast majority of which were French but the Brit end was held up well by Peter and Sue Coward, and me and an old school friend, Dave Cox.

The format was a Friday arrival with a simple reception, with wine on the Friday evening and a start on the vines at 9 am on the Saturday - this is not mandatory but great fun, we needed to be in wet weather gear however because the vines were wet.  After a brief explanation we were given buckets (we had to take our own secateurs) and sent up the rows of vines, I had expected that the bunches of grapes just hung down like they do in the supermarkets - but the grapes were clustered and close packed almost like the kernels on corn cobs - they also hid themselves an the vines behind very wet leaves!

It wasn't too strenuous but the more successful collectors were those who could bend easily! And it was much enjoyed by our enthusiastic French friends.

After a couple of hours we went back for breakfast - which was cheese, bread, charcouterie, jam, coffee - and of course wine!  The fitter group, which included Sue, Peter and Dave went back to the vines for an hour and the fatter group, which included me - went back to the van for a cup of tea and a read.

At about 12.30 we all assembled in the courtyard for a glass of wine outside the magnificent farmhouse - which had a lovely roof but no glass in the windows, plaster on the walls or boards on the floor - for a brief explanation of the terroir - or soil conditions and of the type of grapes and wines produced - there was more wine

Then we went into the purpose built dining room and, to the accompaniment of a gentle keyboard had what seemed to be a 7 course meal but my ability to count was seriously compromised by the individual different wines served between each course.  Lunch finished about 3, or it could have been 4 and those who could still walk went around the cellars where there may have been more wine.

Dinner started about 8 pm with 4 or 5 courses and 6 or 7 wines and finished sometime later – don’t ask me, I can’t remember.

Sunday provided a walk around the vineyard for those who were able to put one foot in front of the other and. later, we assembled in the courtyard - for some wine - and light accordion music provided by some of the French campers.  It seemed only polite to follow Christian into the dining room and sit down and eat - just 4 courses this time - but 6 wines.

All the wine courses were accompanied by an explanation of the vintage, the grape and the method by Christian - all in French - I am not sure whether, by the end of the weekend, I understood French better - or perhaps the alcohol encouraged me to think that I understood it better!

Some of the French contingent left on Sunday but the majority of us stayed on and left Monday morning - with a fair amount of the vineyard product!

The total cost per person was 65 Euros - or 45 Euros if you did not have the Sunday lunch

I think that I may be going again!


Barry Pollitt.