At 6 this morning the darkness was shattered by an invasion of harvesting machines. Like someone threw a switch, the vineyards around are thrumming and lit up. I go back to bed.
Realising the alarm has failed, stumble unwashed into a kitchen of hungry Yankees. Take them to the bakery to smell the smell, see the fire, and buy warm baguettes. And the rest.
Just a touch late we are on the top of the hill and it's not raining. Very pleasant really. Lovely views across the Dordogne valley and to Saint Emilion. We bend to it willingly. Well, almost. Two hours later a break... for water! He's so thoughful our boss Henry.
The drizzle when it comes isn't SO bad. You get used to it down your neck. The views vanish and the mud clings so you grow an extra two inches. We accelerate. Cries of "Hod! Hod!" (We can go get dry when we fill all the tubs).
Takes till noon. Off to the winery and Bernadette's food. I can't remember when Bernadette didn't do the harvest food. She was Madame Cassin's assistant. Today it's vegetable soup - proper rustic soup of vegetables in broth - then hors thingies of pasta balls peppers olives tuna etc - then roast pork with white beans - then cheeses - then pear tarte and coffee in the glass which previously was for your wine or water... or both.
After which, taken leisurely, you feel like a new man. Or woman. And you leap off to work again like it was morning.
It's P...ing down now. Henry is delighted. He wants the rain to knock back the sugar richness in his grapes. Without it we'd have a 16 degree wine and puritans would be leaping all over us. Just glad we don't have to go out and work in it.
For, after lunch we stay in the cellar to process what we picked. Seeing everybody in their disposable plastic aprons and rubber gloves, looks more like an episode of 'ER' than a winery. Things change.
I remember a long, long time ago the first time I took a couple of buyers from M&S into a French winery. They'd bought the wine but being as M&S had only just gone into wine, never seen a winery.
They flipped. "But everyone has to wear hair-nets, overalls and rubber boots"! I translated for the foreman. I thought it best not to translate his reply.
But here we are... apart the hair-nets and you bet health and safety will bring that in soon.
We sort it all by 6. Good day. Nice juice.