Own­ing a vine

The highs and lows of own­ing a grapevine – plus prun­ing tips

French Property News - - Contents - Peter Gor­ley’s eguide ‘The Wines & Wine­mak­ers of Langue­doc-rous­sil­lon’ is avail­able from Ap­ple’s ibooks Store and pe­ter­gor­ley.com

By late Au­gust, our an­cient Mus­cat vine was so weighed down with fruit that I had to do the ven­dange be­fore the per­gola col­lapsed. The vine was only ever in­tended to be dec­o­ra­tive, not pro­duc­tive, but the sum­mer was hot and the grapes abun­dant. Here’s my di­ary of two hard days up a lad­der… and what hap­pened next.

DAY 1 Don a straw hat against fierce sun and mount lad­der. Bump head against per­gola, lose hat and de­scend lad­der to re­trieve it. As­cend lad­der, with se­ca­teurs and pur­pose. De­cide all lit­tle Mus­cat grapes merit pick­ing. Some grapes are per­fect, some al­ready sultana-d. Taste each type: sweet like sunny honey. Bump head again. Lose hat. De­scend lad­der, and move it to reach eas­ier bunches. The blue wash­ing-up bowl is big enough to catch the bunches… oooh, nearly over­bal­anced into the rock­ery. Am­bi­tiously aim for gap in vine branches. Lose hat. The big bowl full of lit­tle Mus­cats and prom­ise is ready to go in the fridge. Yum!

DAY 2 Leave hat on hook as it’s cooler. De­cide to go for low-hang­ing fruit to start with. Why didn’t I think of that yes­ter­day? Un­load grapes into stone sink, then head for lad­der to seek higher branches. Through the leaves, see two buz­zards wheel­ing and call­ing plain­tively to each other. I did my stretches this morn­ing, be­fore lad­der work, so while not lithe, at least mobile. Bowl num­ber four (since yes­ter­day) even­tu­ally full to over­flow­ing. At 10 bunches per bowl that’s 40 bunches of grapes… all from one old vine which is for dec­o­ra­tive pur­poses. Bring bowl into kitchen and – apart from a few for munch­ing – put in fridge, as source of chilled, fruity, sug­ary plea­sure.

DAY 3 Ig­nor­ing mother-in-law’s old wine­mak­ing glass­ware in cel­lar, I will try to make grape jelly as am leav­ing in three days. Scald four Kil­ner jars in the hope of large quan­ti­ties. Carry boil­ing, mashed grapes and sugar in caul­dron over to makeshift sieve – a dry­ing-up cloth over a fruit bowl. Sur­prised to avoid dis­as­ter. Wait as hot juice oozes. Give cloth a poke. Juice gets cloudier. Stop pok­ing. Some­time later… pour liq­uid back into caul­dron and boil fiercely. Test drop on cold plate in fridge. Seems set. Pour pink­ish liq­uid into first jar. Only enough to reach half­way. Put jar in fridge. Find gecko watch­ing on from ceil­ing. Close fridge door firmly. Sleep deeply.

DAY 4 Sunny again. Gecko van­ished. Ah non! The jelly is too mobile by half. Not set. Call Lon­don; more sugar! Pour back into caul­dron. Heat vi­ciously. Add sugar, quan­tity un­cer­tain. Boil up, then test. Must be OK, surely. Pour back into jar. Note it’s less than be­fore. Al­low to cool on win­dow ledge be­fore plac­ing back in fridge.

DAY 5 It looks like jelly; it shiv­ers like jelly. Clip down lid. All that for one third of a litre of jelly.

Vines love climb­ing, colour beau­ti­fully with the sea­sons and pro­vide dap­pled shade in the sum­mer

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.