Thursday, August 30, 2007

Champagne Harvest

Just before the harvest, actually - it's earlier than normal this year due to a hot month of April (or so I've been told). This was in the hills around Avize and Oger, where millions of Chardonnay grape clusters hung heavy on the vines, ready to drop. (It was too tempting not to pluck a grape and try it, pesticides or no --- yum!)

We had some friends visiting, so we took them to a local champagne-maker for a tour of their "cave," and a description of the painstaking, labor-intensive process that goes into making the bubbly liquid, including (but not limited to): Washing and taking care of the machinery, pressing the grapes, filling and emptying (and filling again) the old oak casks, rotating the bottles daily (by hand!) so the sediment goes down, moving thousands of bottles in and out of teetering stacks in a cold, underground crawlspace - and so on and so on. Not to mention the unbelieveable effort of farming a vineyard and dealing with the ever-changing climate! Just thinking about it all makes me tired and ready for a drink. As my friend 99 so eloquently put it, after we emerged into the sunlight, "I'll never complain about the price of champagne again!"


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