Here in St Emilion, the rhythm of our lives follows the growth cycles of the vineyard. Harvest time is the result of long hours of meticulous work and much prayer.
The harvest in St Emilion is all done by hand. The workers move from plot to plot according to the degree of maturation of the three varieties of plants used here. Apart from Château Figeac and three or four other properties, Merlot dominates (60 % Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon). All wines (there are VERY few exceptions) are the result of “assembling” these three plants. With 5400 hectares, St-emilion only counts for 5% of Bordeaux. Pomerol is even smaller with only 785 hectares.
I spent some time last week in the vineyards closer to the B&B (Pomerol, St-emilion, Montagne and Lussac). I followed my cousin Frank who runs a great team of pickers coming from different regions of France and Spain. A very diverse team of all ages. It is often said of a house: “Oh, if these walls could talk”. I am not sure I’d like to hear some of the life stories hidden behind some of these incredible faces… The older gentleman you’ll see in the pictures is only 64 years old…
I am sorry there are so many pictures here, but I took so many that I had the hardest time sorting through them…
A St Emilion, nos vies sont rythmées par les cycles de la vigne. Tout le monde vit du vin (de près ou de loin) et la période des vendanges représente l’aboutissement de longues heures de travail méticuleux dans des conditions souvent difficiles. Couper les bois alors qu’il gèle, faire les vendanges vertes sous le dur soleil de juillet et prier pour qu’il pleuve le moins possible en septembre… Les vendanges arrivent chaque année comme une libération.
Tous les châteaux de St-emilion vendangent à la main. La plupart des satellites font de même. On passe de parcelle en parcelle selon le degré de maturation de chacun des trois cépages. Ici, en dehors de Figeac et de trois ou quatre autres propriétés, c’est le Merlot qui domine (60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon). Tous les vins (à de très rares exceptions près) sont issus de l’assemblage de ces trois plantes. Avec 5400 hectares, l’appellation représente seulement 5% du vignoble Bordelais. En comparaison, il n’y a que 785 hectares de Pomerol. Tout Bordeaux représente 117200 hectares (Bordeaux, Médoc, Sauternes…)
J’ai passé pas mal de temps la semaine dernière dans les vignes les plus proches de mes chambres d’hôtes (St-emilion, Pomerol, Lussac, Montagne, St Georges et Lalande de Pomerol). J’ai suivi mon petit cousin Franck qui dirige une belle équipe de vendangeurs venus de France et d’Espagne. Une belle équipe variant les accents, les âges et les sexes. De beaux visages issus de belles vies. On dit souvent d’une maison: “Ah, si les murs pouvaient parler” De ces visages on imagine tellement de choses…
J’ai pris beaucoup de photos et n’ai pas réussi à faire trop de tri. Je vous les livre donc pêle-mêle :0)
61 Comments Add yours
Good evening my dear…I saw your new web site since you have published the link the first time…and I can only say: Bravo! What I think I am missing are the descriptions of the pictures published…the description of that special moments….places, etc….
and…the design of this blog should be related to the Web site….
Wish you a very nice evening,
Thanks for the feedback my dear Luana!
Great photos. Went to school in Europe many years ago. The one unfulfilled fantasy was to pick grapes. Thanks for the great photo tour. Was that Chateau Ausone I saw peeking from the corner of one shot? Ken
Thanks Ken! It might have been Auseone. It’s right next door (almost), so it pops up in pictures sometimes 😉
Hope to se you posting a bit more, but only if you have time. You always brighten my day, Stephane.
I will do my best, starting today 🙂
Missed you and your posts! You take such beautiful pictures there is no need to apologize when you post them. It is luck for us we get to see them!
You are too kind, as always. Yes, I have been busy working on a proper website. It will be called “Your French Heaven” and will showcase the workshops I am planning to offer in 2014 🙂
Ooooooo! Exciting! But do know you have been missed and thought of. 🙂
😉 That is so very kind of you! You brighten my day!!
formidable galerie !
Thanks Christian!! I sure had fun taking the pictures…
You have the most glorious photos !!
Beautifully rich with colour and feeling
Thank you so much my dear! It means a lot coming from the great mistress of colour and light… 😉
Thanks for the inside look. Great photos.
What a labour of love! thanks for sharing all of the photos – gorgeous!
I think you found the right words for it. It is indeed a labour of love 🙂
Wow, I am so moved by the beauty of your post. You have an ability to capture the spirit, essence and emotion of the life and harvest there! I’m mesmerized. I first read your post yesterday, and had to return again today, to just take in those moments and the beauty of life! Wished I could have followed you around – such a wonderful snippet of life here in this region! Thank you for such a stunning post. My youngest daughter’s CP class has the luxury of going to a vineyard last week and learning about the harvest. They even got to stomp on some grapes! How lucky we are to live here!
I am so glad you enjoyed the post Jennifer! We’ll have to go in the vineyard together next year! I am putting a website together for the workshops I will offer in 2014. I think you’ll like it. I decided to call it “YOUR French Heaven” 🙂 In the meantime, do call me if you feel like going to the farmers’ market in Libourne one Sunday. I’d love to show it to you if I’m around!! All the very best to you neighbor 😉
The website sounds really wonderful and workshops – what a great idea! You never know, I definitely might take you up on your offer to go to the farmer’s market in Libourne some Sunday – I adore markets and to be with someone who is “in the know” and a great photographer too would be my kind of morning! All the best to you too! Enjoy the beautiful weather!
I can feel your radical love for these things…it is as strong as the gravitational force…authentic. As you are.
I’ve been missing the beauty of your posts! You have a wonderful ability to catch the essence of life in a single photo. Honest labour hand harvesting precious grapes to create a nectar from the gods. Life in your region is blessed!
Thanks my friend! And we are indeed blessed 🙂 I will start posting more often again. The tourist season is coming to an end and I will have more free time to work on my beloved blog and share with my lovely fellow bloggers 😉
Not too many–they’re lovely. Thanks for sharing.
I’m glas! Thanks for dropping by 🙂
Wow that gentleman who is only 64 years old looks like he has had great experiences! That face is full of stories!
You may be right, but I think he’s mostly had a LOOOOOOT to drink over the years 😉 🙂
Such a wonderful collage of photos Stephane – the grapes, the pickers and the region itself! You really do live in such a beautiful part of the world.
I think you’re right! I hope I get to share it with you in real life one day 😉
Thanks a lot! I am having breakfast and thinking of your last post 😉
Thanks. Oh! Sally Lunn bun? Classic breakfast in Bath. I hope you going to like it.
Ah – there is a wonderful story in every photo. I am enjoying following you on Instagram!!! 🙂
Thanks! Me too! Your pictures of England make me want to go back there so badly 😉
magnifiques photos! quelle belle région. Ça respire l’amour de la terre et de ses bons produits
Merci! J’espère que tu viendra te balader par ici un de ces jours 😉
Such lovely photos as usual!
Ah thanks Isabel. I must say it was quite a fun day in the vineyard. The light was superb and this group of people one of the most gracious and gorgeous I ever had the pleasure to “work” with… 🙂
merci pour ses très belle photos c’est un très beau blog il est très bien fait
Merci beaucoup Anne-Lyse! J’espère que vous reviendrez souvent 🙂
Beautiful photos – so touching, vivid and raw. The shot of the woman – sitting, smiling and smoking – caught my eye… her eyes had a happy light about them. And it is so neat that folks come all the way from Spain to pick the prized grapes – love it! Thank you for sharing the wine picking with us!
Thanks Shanna! There were three or four exceptionally photogenic people in the lot and she was one of them. Very special people…
🙂 Lovely; I can see that they are special people through your lens.
Wonderful post, Stéphane. I can recognise the Spanish workers! Great team. Real people.
Real people is exactly right. They were all so nice and fun…
absolutely beautiful photography.
Thanks darling Mimi. It was such fun to walk around the vineyard. The light was incredible on that particular day…
Great pictures as always! We were in St Emilion this time last year and I was fascinated by the bits of the process that I could see (without getting on anyone’s nerves!). It’s a wonderful place and a lovely town.
It really is, isn’t it? I hope you’ll come back again soon!
Great portraits! We harvested a few weeks ago (for grappa) and I can identify well with the moment and the people 😉
Stephane (sorry I can’t get the right marking in your name), thanks for sharing so many photos. Both words and pictures tell stories and sometimes one says more in less space than that other. The photos brought me right there and showed me not only the grapes but the people.
As for wine, I’ve always loved St Emilion, although I haven’t had any recently. My s-i-l lived near Avignon, so I was able to visit Gigondas and Chateauneuf, lovely places with wonderful wines. Perhaps one day we’ll make it to St Emilion as well and if we do, we’ll say hello or, if we’re fortunate, even get to stay with you.
There is not much I’d like more than finally meeting you and show you around our beautiful region Janet 😉
Your portraits are exceptional. How you manage to encapsulate an entire story within one frame! Although, I’m with you on hearing those life stories…seriously? That young.
Thanks Johnny. I must say that the models were exceptional… 🙂 Yes I know. That dude looks like he’s at least 80. He smelled really bad, had only one or two teeth left and is (or would like to be) quite a ladies’ man…
Thank you for this journey. I have such a passion for wine and vineyards. One day I will grow grapes and make wine, and one day I will travel to vineyards and work, but in the meantime, thank you for letting me tag along via photographs.
I do hope you’ll come visit one day. It really is heaven for wine lovers 😉
Oh, to have an opportunity to harvest grapes again… It is such an uplifting thing to do! The people who partake in such an activity are a breed of their own. My friends in the Rhone valley harvested their grapes in late September.
I like to watch them do it, but my back is not strong enough to take such a beating 😉 They havested as late as possible, but it’s been a bad year weather wise and they had to pick before all the fruit went bad…
I just wrote a post about St.Emilion too 🙂 Really lovely place, I’ll miss it when I leave France 😦
You need to come back soon Annie; and when you do, we’ll have to meet for coffee or sommething 🙂