Their faces are blushed and tanned, their long skirts lifted, and brown arms bare. Their sweet laughter drifts on the early autumn breeze as they deftly move between, and along the vine row, using their pruning knives to cut away clusters of warm red grape, then handling them gently into willow or wooden baskets. The men tease, and take the ‘cutters’ baskets to fill their own larger ones swung over their backs, then to the barrel on the cart, which when full is pulled by the donkey to the chateaux winepress. The workers toil all morning, row by row, basket by basket, until they hear the midday ‘Angelus’ bells ring from the village church that tell them it is time to rest. They make their way to the cabane de vigne, a small stone cabin at the edge of the field. There they eat, talk and sleep, until it is time to resume their work.
Relics in the vineyard
Under a stone shelter an old farm cart rests. It was just the right size to carry a barrel of grapes, and hay too.
Across the road, a metal crane rusts from time and misuse. It once was useful, during the early years of industrialised viticulture, to load wooden crates of grape onto a trailer, to be pulled by a tractor.
Cabane de vigne
In every the vineyard, a little house remembers,
The vineyard workers, sheltering from the sun and rain,
Eating saucisson and bread, washed down with a swig of red wine.
NB If interested, you can find a little more to read about the history of wine agriculture here, and winemaking there..