Newsletter from Alan and Beryl - October 2002 supplement

This addition is necessary because I omitted one of the important things that had happened during the period since my last update in July, that being the wine harvest or vendange. We had a very dry summer so it was no surprise that the period for the vendange was prescribed to start on 2 September and last for three weeks. When the time came, the weather changed abruptly and instead of the blue skies that had hitherto been the rule, clouds and the threat of rain were forecast. In fact, here 30 mm rain fell on the 4th and 16 mm on the 5th, but other places in the area were not so lucky and had heavy storms. Rain at this time has two principal effects: one being to fatten up the grapes on the vine (this is good, as the grapes weigh more), and the second to reduce the sugar content of the juice (bad, as the value of the grapes depends on the sugar content). Secondary effects include the encouragement of diseases, such as mildew, which is favoured by a wet, warm environment. As it turned out, Plan de la Tour was lucky, much more so than a number of other areas in the region, where the storms resulted in damaged vines and a prevalence of disease which tainted the grape juice. Our vineyard had a better yield than I expected (given the very dry summer) and we racked up 805 kg of grapes. The sugar level was down, as expected, at 11.8, but the product at 9499, was the second best we have had since we arrived here, and will pay for a good number of bottles of wine!

Cheers! from Alan and Beryl