back again and waiting for spring

No news should always be good news – but it’s not exactly what you are looking for, when you come back to this blog. So I have to explain, why you didn’t find any new post during the last 2 years.

Well, it’s mostly good news: since November, the wines from our 2011 harvest have found their way down into the barrel-cellar by going through the bigger model of our traditional wine-presses.

cleaning the wine-press after harvest 2011

What we call our “press cake” had a beautiful colour and went into the garden to join the compost.



We did the usual washing up and then stored it all away, hoping to need the bigger model again for the next harvest.

All you never wanted to know about pruning vines:

When the last autumn leaves had fallen, we started one of the most important works in the vineyard: pruning – which means preparing the next harvest, by deciding, how many buds we will have in spring, so how many grapes will be possible and finally which quantity of harvest we will have in autumn . At least that’s the theoretical part – between this decision and the final result, there are all the non controllable things that can happen – frost, hale, grape diseases or – like very often during the last years – wild animals in love with your grapes…

Bur let’s stick to the theory: I started with the grape variety, which needs the longest period to ripen its grapes: in our case, that’s the Mourvedre – starting late in spring and asking for a long sunny, but not too hot period in late summer and far into autumn, to give us it’s best.

old pruning scissors

old pruning scissors

For years, I used the traditional pruning scissors for this – till I started to suffer terribly from aching arms – especially, if I spend the day in the wines and the evenings at my computer…

electrical pruning scissors

electrical pruning scissors

And so I finally it was a great progress, to have electrical scissors with a battery back on your back, which have also the advantage, to leave one hand free, to collect the woods you cut away: makes work much easier –



and – joined with a orthopaedic arm stand for my mouse hand at the computer, I can say that my arms are like new:-) and I’m no longer afraid, when pruning season arrives…



As we want to obtain ripe grapes with concentrated flavours, I prune severely: 3 arms with only one apparent bud – so theoretically enough new wood in spring, to give 6 new branches with around 5 grapes for the whole plant to nourish.

Mourvedre pruned severely

Mourvedre pruned severely

As you can see, we use the traditional form for most of our grape varieties: it’s called Gobelet around here – it’s well adapted for varieties which have tough, upstanding branches which don’t need any external support in spring and summer – ideal for Mourvedre.

And our special climate so far during winter 2011/2012

and then, after a very mild period in December/January, which made us believe, that nature would start its spring circuit very early this year, buds nearly breaking out, even on grapes in some region, winter arrived heavily in February even in the South of France – with lots of snow in many regions, and in the Languedoc with cold winds and lower temperatures than we ever had since 1985  due to a well named Russian cold front and everything got paralysed:

ice wonderland at -10°C

so I had to stay inside and wait for better conditions to continue the work in the wines.

And off and away to show our wines!


Well, you may be reassured, I find enough things to do – there is cellar work and the preparation of our OFF participation in the great event of VINISUD 2012 next week, well named “Vignerons Hors Piste”, which means “outside the main stream roads”, but also skiing in deep snow away from the prepared  slopes….

hors piste - off the main stream roads

Vinisud is one of the biggest French wine-trade-fairs for professional buyers. It unites winemakers from all around the Mediterranean Sea in Montpellier, our Languedoc capital, and attracts many  international retalers and journalists. And as a small winery, we prefere a cosy off on Tuesday, at the Aeroport Hôtel, not far from the official expositon, where we are only 25 winemakers united in the same spirit of mostly organic winemaking and with more time and space, to present our babies to less but relaxed visitors than inside the great show. You can see some picture of our 2010 edition of this event on our common French blog.

So if you’re around in Europe and the South of France in February, on Tuesday 22, you’re welcome!

More information in English about Vinisud and it’s ons and offs on the very informative and sometimes even humorous blog of Ryan O’Oconnell , a young American guy, living as a winemaker and wine geek in the Languedoc.

I’ll tell you more about the results in my  next post… still waiting for spring to arrive….




6 thoughts on “back again and waiting for spring

  1. Pingback: Winemakers on the Net making ‘Wine 2.0′ « The Evening Hérault

  2. Our vines, in central Spain, are also in Gobelet (‘en vaso’) though we don’t prune as severly as you – we leave about 2 ‘fingers’ on each arm. Our variety is Airn, though, which is very vigorous.

  3. Dear Iris,

    I love your project! Some years ago we bought land at the Algarve in Portugal. This spring I planted the first vines. The idea is to do exactly the same as you in France – natural wine.

    Wine is becoming a more an more industrial product, even at the smaller wineries. Someone has to keep on doing the natural stuff!

    Plaese have a look here http// .

    Best wishes,

  4. Hi Iris, may I ask what you were doing before becoming a winemaker? We are doing a documentary on career changes from white collar jobs to hand work and we hope that you fit the bill in which case contact us! this could be fun¨!
    thanks a lot

    Chiara Reid, journalist

  5. As a wine enthusiast, my travels have taken me to a wide variety of vineyards and wine areas of France and Italy, and of course to the wonderful gardens of the wineries and surrounding places. Such spectacular fountains, planters and statuary! Citrus and olive trees in beautiful planters, stone statuary in the midst of bubbling fountains, elaborate terra cotta creations…. Imagine my pleasure, then, when I walked into Authentic Provence in West Palm Beach, Florida. In a beautiful environment of running water and good smells, the owners have sourced one of the finest collections of European garden antiques that I have seen in the USA: statues, fountains, planters (note especially the classic Caisse de Versailles, and Anduze pottery), terra cotta shields, stone animals, copper pots, garden spouts, etc. They also have beautiful stone fireplaces, re-purposed tiles, and many other specialty items. They are available online at, and can arrange shipping anywhere in the US. Well worth a visit!

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