Day 147: Goodbye grapes…

Today was to be our last day of the vendange which was both exciting and sad as it meant that our time in Lamalou and with our new work mates was nearly over, but it had also been great to see the process through to the end and to be part of a great French tradition. As we’ve learnt more about the producer that we’ve been working for and their ethos, we’ve also become quite fond of the old fashioned method of picking by hand. By the sound of things, this is sadly on the decline as more producers (and certainly those with larger vineyards) turn to the big picking machines to collect the harvest.

The mornings have been getting gradually colder over the past couple of weeks, but today was our first taste of true autumn weather as the valley was engulfed in heavy cloud that gave it a completely different feel. As we made our way to our meeting point, roads that had by now become very familiar were almost unrecognisable and with the damp in the air, we wondered if we’d actually be picking at all today.

As we started to crest the hill that separates Lamalou and Faugeres, the cloud started to clear and it began to look like we were in for another nice day! Everyone was in good spirits and clearly looking forward to the final morning of picking. The picking itself happened pretty quickly, and before we knew it, the vendange was complete and celebrated by decorating the tractor with leafy vines.

After saying our goodbyes to our new friends – including being given a magnum of our favourite wine by the owners back at the cellier – it was time to start the not so exciting task of getting everything together before we head off again.

After a few hours of sorting, washing and tidying, we were both in need of a leg stretch and change of scene so a plan was hatched to go and see a little village that we could see when we were picking, and then on to a spot that GUB thought we should see. Loaded into the car, we set off on our magical mystery tour of new and interesting places!

After scaling the steep and loose path up to a little castle in the hamlet of Roquesol, we then headed over to a little reservoir near the village of Vailhan where we met bloke who was organising a music event there. This was to be no ordinary show though, as it would feature a pianist floating on the water – it all happens over here you know! From Vailhan it was time to head back to Lamalou via some of pretty sketchy narrow roads (whilst playing the petrol ‘red light’ game!) and then to get ready for dinner at one of the fancier local eateries.

To finish off our time in Lamalou we headed back to another favourite, L’Arbousier. It looked like it may have changed ownership since we were last there and sadly the food was not as good, but the great wine made up for it! We had a fun evening enjoying the slightly over the top surroundings and comedy waiter! If you are ever in Lamalou, it’s worth checking out for a nice drink on the pretty terrace, but maybe give the food a miss for now!

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