Much to our excitement our neighbour invited us over yesterday to watch the process of harvesting and juicing the grapes.
There was an excitement in the air, an anticipation of what the yield would bring this year. Apparently, last year was too dry and that led to a lower harvest. Cognac distilleries do not allow watering of the vines in such conditions. I was pleased to see it had been an excellent year. I am digressing. ........
The grape picker was enormous. The driver sat 12 feet in the air, teetering over the vines whilst large rubber tubes ripped the grapes from the vines. They were then transferred into a compressor which extracted the juice. Interestingly, the grapes were then sent off to make pharmaceutical alcohol - a great use of a by-product. Huge hose pipes pumped the juice into large vats where it would be stored for 10 days before being shipped to Cognac. This gave it time to ferment and the alcohol levels to rise. We were given a demonstration of how a hydrometer works - very useful for our next adventure making Elderflower Champagne and much to our delight wewere given a drink of freshly squeezed grape juice. Lovely and sweet - some thought; quite sour others thought. Whatever it was - it was delicious.
Inspired by my morning - we ventured home to tidy up the garden and enjoy a warm afternoon in the sun.