Purple fruits are adorning the hedgerow, orchard and vineyard, just now..
Purple stained fingertips and tongues,
bramble scratches on your arms,
blackberry picking, you’ve been and done!
Prunier d’ente (grafted prune)
A few old folk still remember, when in their youth, they worked in the orchards to gather the ripe prunier d’ente from the trees in august and september, after the wheat harvest. They recall the hardwork of picking, washing, and stoning the fruit by hand, which was then carried by cart to the pruniculturist to be dried in a prune oven. A wood stove used to burn day and night, during the drying period. The fruit was placed on trays made of dogwood, that does not burn, then into the oven, where it took many hours to dry. The dried prunes were stored until the prune seller came to take them away to Agen, or La Reole, where they were loaded onto boats, and taken to Bordeaux for export across the world.*
Through september, when ripeness, and weather dictates, the vendange (harvest) of wine grape commences.
Wine grape has been grown in L’Entre Deux Mers, since the Romans occupied the south west of Gaul, in the kingdom called Aquitaine, at the turn of the first millenium. They planted vine cuttings, possibly from Spain, to supply their soldiers with wine, and encouraged laic lords, and monasteries to plant on their lands, teaching them the art of winemaking.
From the Middle Ages, winegrape was grown extensively, and produced mainly for export, with links favoured between Bordeaux and England. The Plantagenet Kings Of England possessed Gascony and Aquitaine for three centuries, and granted Bordeaux tax exemptions.
Today, in L’Entre Deux Mers, there are two and a half thousand hectares of land devoted to the making of good white, and generic red Bordeaux wine, which is exported across the world.
* If you would like to know more about les Pruneaux d’Agen, an older post is here.