Friday, 5 October 2012

vineyard rescue



"Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know."

~ John Keats ~





How very astute of Mr Keats in his observations!
 
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The grapes in the above photos are of the Syrah variety and together with Mourvedre they form the principal varieties of the red wine of the Minervois.  Grenache, Carignan and Cinsaut also make their contribution to these rich ancient wines - and such beautiful names!   And there are more - Bourboulenc, Vermentino, Roussanne, Marsanne and Grenach Blanc, these evocative sounding grapes go towards making up the Region's white wine.  In addition to dry red and white wines, the area has a historical sweet-wine-making tradition. Minervois Noble, as it is known, does not have a current appellation. It is a golden sweet wine made from the same white grapes as its dry counterparts. The grapes are picked when they have reached a high level of sweetness – either as a result of noble rot or by being dried out manually after picking. Muscat de St-Jean-de-Minervois, a delicate vin doux naturel, is produced in the north of the Minervois.

Home from home during our French sojourn was a small peaceful village nestled among acres of vineyards with the local cave just a gentle stroll away!  We had chosen well.  The wine we purchased at the cave had provenance, of course, was of superior quality and excellent value.  We also bought some delicious lavender honey which we enjoyed with our freshly baked croissants each morning.  I am now on a diet ....

 
 

Here in the photo below, in a tiny winding street in the city of Minerve we came across a farmer offloading his latest harvest at a small family-run distillery.   Keeping vineyards and producing wine is the essence of Midi life, informing the landcape; the terroir, and this essence seems to me to be in the very DNA of its people. 




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But what of the 'rescue' you may wonder? 

Well, the rescue I allude to in the title to this post regards a vineyard much closer to home.  In fact its a vineyard set up and run by my friend Jillian and her husband on a beautiful south-facing slope in the grounds of Ickworth House, a National Trust property here in Suffolk.  In the 18th century the site had formed part of the estate's walled kichen garden and had a team of over a dozen gardeners tending the 2.5 acre plot, growing exotic fruit such as melons and pineapples in its three large greenhouses.  Jillian and her husband took on the plot in 1995 when it was given over to the cultivation of vines and they have had considerable success in producing some very fine English wine.   Sadly for the vineyard, the National Trust are planning a major restoration of the Walled Garden at Ickworth, and the vineyard has to go.  Jillian is now working tirelessly to rehome the vines, so if you think you can help and have the space and conditions for a vine or two to flourish, then please get in touch with Jillian at her blog here or website here.

Until next time ...

Happy weekend dear readers.  Cheers!

Jeanne
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24 comments:

  1. That's too bad about Jillian's vineyard Jeanne. I hope she is able to place the vines and save them.
    Your photos in this post are just what I imagine when I think of your remarkable country!
    I laughed when you said you are now on a diet after the breakfasts of croissants and honey.
    sending hugs...

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    Replies
    1. Thank you June, we are hoping they are able to re-home more vines this month as autumn begins to really settle in.

      Perhaps I have misunderstood your comment (?) but the photos in this post are from our recent holiday in France - not the UK.

      Yes, the diet is ongoing:-) x

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  2. What a shame after you build up a business Jeanne, but I used to work for the NT so I hope they did not take this decision lightly. Down here, tenants are valued for the projects they are willing to take on and 20 year old productive vines must be worth snapping up. Sadly we don't have either a south facing slope or the weather conditions for vines but there is a vineyard a couple of miles away so it must be possible in Wales! I truly wish her every success.

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    1. Thank you Lesley.

      Snap! I had a contract working for the National Trust during 2000/01 -based at Ickworth - which I love to this day. I know the Trust are planning to re-establish many walled gardens to their properties around the country, its so unfortunate that Jillian's vineyard is to become a casualty.

      We should swap notes! x

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  3. i heartily agree with the quote, although the music could be played by someone i know. love those grapes—yummy photo. sounds like it was a fun trip.

    i do hope your friends find good homes for their vines. england gets yet another walled garden restoration! maybe someday we'll visit suffolk..... : )

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    1. My reply below was full of typos so here it is again:-)

      Intriguingly Keats seemed very specific the music should be from a stranger - I would love to know why!

      Yes, do come and visit Suffolk Mignon, its a very pretty and unspoilt county. x

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  4. Oh, that's too bad about the vines needing to find new homes. Its always amazed me, however, that we CAN actually move growing things that have been planted and rooted for so long. One might think they'd only thrive where they began. I never think of them as wandering souls, but I wonder if they might even be a little excited to move, as long as they have all their row buddies with them!!

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    1. Such a delightful thought Valeriana! I know how inspired you are by the nature that surrounds you in your own wonderful forest at Ravenwood.

      Vines as 'wandering souls' ... I like that. x

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  5. Cheers darling...happy weekend...love Ria...xxx...

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  6. What is the little square building in the field - it looks delightful!

    Sad to hear about the vines at Ickworth House. I hope the NT know what they are doing, because I contribute through my membership. Shame they couldn't have found another spot for them elsewhere on the estate.

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    1. The little huts are known as Cabiotes and are usually made of limestone. In days gone by, the workers tending the vineyards would store their tools in them, and often sleep in them at busy harvest time. You see them dotted all around the landscape amongst the vines. They are beautiful and timeless.

      Yes, its a real shame. I'm a NT member too and like Lesley above, worked for the Trust some years ago. We hope its not change for change's sake. x

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  7. Hello Jeanne,
    It's always a pleasure to read your posts! I like a lot the Keats-quote, it includes all the elements of a perfect Sunday afternoon. Have a nice weekend!
    Maria

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    1. Thank you Maria for your kind words. Its lovely to 'see' you again. I hope you are well and enjoying your weekend. x

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  8. Have you ever seen the paintings of Provence by Michael Longo? Lovely, just like your photos!

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  9. Perfect post for me, lines from Keats and France!

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  10. Nice to hear from you again. Thank you for taking me to France. Unfortunately I have no place - but I hope you friend will find a good place for her vine stock. Wishing you an nice week ahead.

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  11. What a gorgeous area you stayed in, it looks idyllic. Such a shame about Jillian's vineyard. She must have put so much effort in to it in the time she's had it. I do hope she manages to rehome the vines.

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    1. It was wonderful to be surrounded by vineyards Jo, and with the cave just a stroll away - perfect!

      There are many vines still requiring a new home, however further interest has been shown since the newspaper article. Let's hope the momentum keeps up. x

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  12. I couldn't agree more about the Midi. What a shame that we don't have the same ties to the land here.

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  13. Dear Jeanne,

    It's pureheaven to travel with you my friend. Because it feels like I'm traveling there upon your shoulder and enjoying France with you. Gorgeous pictures and you make me wanna go to France straight away. Your France.

    Thank you for taking us along for the ride.♥

    Lotta
    xx

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  14. Have just started to read your blog, i will be visiting again.
    Wonderful photo's! x

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Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and for indulging me in my musings. I enjoy reading your comments and will reply, time and tide permitting, on this page... at some juncture ... which may be several days later ... oh to have more time to blog!

I love to visit you in return also.

Jeanne
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