Friday 18 June 2010

Cottage from the Vines.

I'm very pleased that I painted this little picture when I did, as the vines are sadly no longer there. In fact there are no vines around us at all any more.

When we first settled in our village 37 years ago, every household had their own vines, and, naturally, made their own wine. At harvest time we would go to a different neighbour every morning, gather the grapes, gently crush them through a metal mangle, take them to the cellar, then transfer the grapes/juice mixture to the huge oval wooden 'cuves'. As far as I understood, it was then simply a matter of waiting two weeks before the wine was drawn off via a tap at the bottom. This new wine was deliciously fruity, but after a few months it always turned into what is known here as 'piquette'; somewhere beween wine and vinegar, an aquired taste! (The French word for vinegar is 'vinaigre'; literally 'sour wine').

Apart from the vines in the picture having disappeared, nothing much has changed. Our little cottage (in the distance with tree in front) is still standing. The randomly dotted fruit trees still provide treats for the cows in autumn. And the field boundaries are still roughly in the same places..... But, I do miss the vines.

I enjoy this type of loose oil-sketching. It's really just drawing with paint. I don't think I dated this picture, but I imagine it must have been around 1980.

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  1. That is a really nice picture Cro. It sort of reminds me of the WW1 battlefield art - maybe inappropriately. Here in the Bath area, I am noticing more and more potted, ancient olive trees standing outside restaurants, etc. They have obviously decided that there is a market for some of the ones which are being grubbed up all over the Med. More evidence of the demise of small cooperative production. Can we blame the EU?

  2. Tom, it's a disgrace. We were looking at some this morning. They must have been at least 500 years old; torn from their (usually) Italian groves, and sold off to idiots who more than likely will let them die. I think the EU people pay farmers to grub them up, then pay them again to re-plant. I really hate seeing these beautiful old trees in pots, but one sees more and more.

  3. In Crete, they just leave nets on the ground underneath the olives, then occasionally bash the tree, keeping the wild goats away. The harvest is gathered up, and taken to the press in the mountains, from where we get some of the best olive oil to be bought in Britain. Everyone is happy (and the Cretans live for an extremely long time.

  4. I liked your picture too, Cro. We have a grape vine on the side of our garage. Its a black grape called 'Hamburg'. I bought a couple of rooted vines a few years back and then did cuttings. I made 16 bottles of wine one year. We had a bit of a mishap when the cellar filled up with water after a storm and then demi-johns were all floating around on their sides - yuk. And all the bottles too. It all had to be poured away and the bottles and everything got carted off to the Recycle Centre. We've still got quite a few bottles left which we had before the flood. Its a bit of a long drawn out process making wine. Haven't done any for the last couple of years.

  5. Molly, I have some 'Bacco' grapes growing on the front of the house. Bacco was the root stock introduced into France from America after the phylloxera outbreak wiped out all the vinyards here. I've made wine on two occasions, and both times it tasted of petrol. I now leave wine making to others!

    One of the beauties of the 'peasant' wine making method was the simplicity.

    Tom, I am a big fan of olive oil. I consume a huge amount, and am always prepared to pay well for the very best. I believe that many Greeks drink a small glassful every morning. Elixir.

  6. I like all the colors in the painting. It's very earthy, but light and very flowy( at least to me it is!).

    Not sure if I could drink glassfulls of olive oil, but I have downed a few tablespoons before when I thought my hair or skin was feeling dry. This is gross, but cod liver oil is really good for you. I get the strawberry flavored kind and love taking it every day. It's a good brain boost.


  7. Amy, I actually LIKE the taste of Cod Liver Oil. I could be the world's only one!


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