The expert in question is Jeanot Gautié, our neighbor. He has probably harvested grapes every year since he started walking. And that’s a lot of years.
That said, pretty much all of those pictured above – and below – could easily be considered experts as well. They show up in the vineyards early in the morning telling jokes in Occitan and hunting stories in French. They complain a little about their aching backs and how they’re not getting any younger and before you know it – and seemingly effortlessly – there’s not a grape left in the vineyard.
Jeanot’s volunteer harvesting team is always big because he’s a charming guy and the breakfast is good. This year the team was even bigger because Jeanot couldn’t be there – he was hospitalized right before his harvest. Missing the harvest for Jeanot is unheard of – he got all of the equipment ready anyway early in the morning before his wife drove him in. It’s probably the only harvest he’s missed in 70 years.
Around here when someone is unwell and has a vineyard to harvest or to prune people come out of the woodwork. I’ve heard stories of volunteer teams pruning several acres in a day when someone was in need.
The whole team – spanning at least 4 generations. 24 cutters and 6 carriers – the vineyard didn’t stand a chance. We were finished at 11am… with a long breakfast break. It usually takes all day.
Those are some fine lookin’ rubber boots and our youngest cutter with the scariest clippers. His fingers, strangely, survived.
Shameless product placement. They do look pleased, though, and that glass is almost empty.
The man behind the scenes.
Jeanot asked Didier to look after his harvest for him and it was, of course, a great success.