Vine Tending in Beaujolais


This is Jean-Claude. I met him on a recent trip to Beaujolais where I traveled to seek out the great Gamay producers of France (more on that soon). Jean-Claude is a vine tender. I imagine his father and his grandfather might have been too. He smokes cigarettes and drives a little truck through the vineyard. He parks it near him when he works so that he can listen to the radio from the open driver's side door. Every morning, he begins before sunrise.

This time of year, he is pruning. It's common knowledge that Jean-Claude is fast, but it still takes him three months to complete the task.

I understand what hard labor this is. I can't imagine doing it for months, but respectfully, I envy him. There is something sane and comforting about his efforts to farm this piece of land. The work is clear. The result is visible. He is cultivating new growth while communing with history.

Nearby, church bells ring in the town of Jullié. All the doors and windows there are shuttered. Everyone is out pruning the vines, and I am grateful to have glimpsed this way of life.

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