What’s June like in the vineyards? The main work is in the vineyards themselves. The vines have flowered back in May, which gives you roughly 100 days advance warning of the harvest. So in July the viticulturalist is trying to keep the vines healthy and growing vigourously, but not wasting their energy growing too many grapes.
We’ll hear lots of talk about the ‘green harvest’, pruning bunches of grapes off the vines so that only 5 or 6 bunches are left on each vine. They’ll be constantly looking out for grey rot, mildew and other infections, so there’ll be plenty of ‘Bordeaux mix’ around, a copper sulphate spray used to combat mildew, and pruning the leaves to allow breezes to circulate through the vines.
I often tell people that September is the most interesting time in the vineyards, and in terms of watching the wine-making process that’s true. But at other times of year we see the more prosaic work of the vineyard, the pruning and the spraying, cleaning the barrels, all the stuff that reminds you that wine-making is an industry, not some romantic process whereby pixies put wine in bottles while we’re all asleep!
|Everyone learns something new about wine on our Bordeaux trip – even the guy from Penfolds who came on a Busman’s holiday a few years ago.
Provence is always beautiful, more beautiful than Bordeaux, let’s be honest. And if you’re there at the end of June you’ll miss the enormous crowds that flock to Provence following the Grand Depart from Paris in mid-July.
The famous Lavender is in full bloom by the end of June, and we’ll see plenty of it, along with Van Gogh’s sunflowers. We cycle past the asylum where Van Gogh spent some time just outside St Remy de Provence. They’ve commemorated Van Gogh’s stay in a lovely and tasteful way. We can walk around the grounds, and where Van Gogh painted some of his most famous landscapes they’ve set up information boards so that we can literally see what Van Gogh saw.
This kind of thing wouldn’t normally interest me at all, but there’s no denying the beauty of it, and there’s something special about looking at the same rows of lavender and olive trees as Van Gogh did during some of his darker days.
It’s a bit early for olives, but the trees are particularly beautiful at this time of year with an amzing almost silvery green quality. But the best thing about Provence in June? You can help yourself to cherries – delicious!