Friday 17 June 2022


I’m looking for help this harvest and I’m asking anyone who’s (seriously) interested to write to me and I will write back with more. And yes two months before is maybe a bit late* but late is better than never: although never is also a possibility considering I still haven’t found a cellar. 

Simon says I'm a pirate without a boat. I say boat or no, the show must go on. 

Some other things you should know in the spirit of full disclosure: I am no good at sales (read below). Yes, I can take nice pictures but basically what you see is what you get. Expect zero frills. Expect late nights. If experience is anything to go by, things will go wrong probably more often than they go right. 

Your job description in the shell of nut: You will be making wine á la main which is not a French-ism for ‘artisanal’ but means exactly that: your only tools will be your hands (and your arms and your legs and your head and yes, I do at least have a press). 

If you are a city person like I was and want your rural idyll straw hat dreams crushed like I’ve had, come! But only if you really understand what I mean when I say +/- 6.8T of grapes will not pick, drive, carry nor de-cuve themselves oh, and the T stands for tonnes.

What kind of person should you be? You will need to be strong, both of body and of mind and you must. be. able. to. drive. 

(If ever a negociant tells you they don’t use machinery in their vines, ask them how many thousands of KM they make to buy their grapes). 

You must not be afraid of camping because you will almost certainly be camping! But whatever I can do, you can do too. I’m a wimp and I made wine in 2019 on crutches while living in a cave. Last year I managed without a shower. Remember: there is always someone somewhere doing worse off than you.

Please like cooking? Please understand that we will always be cleaning? For the rest there's a lot of drinking, schlepping and boring, repetitive tasks. No pump means the holy trinity of siphon + sweat + buckets and if everything goes to plan, there might also be stairs involved which gives you a picture of how practicality is not my best-fitting hat :)

If you’re the kind of person who can just get on with things without me having to explain everything — know that I already love you. Not that I don’t relish directing people (I don’t), it’s just that I don’t know what I’m doing either and will be busy figuring it out as we go along. 

Other desirable skills include: French! Maths! The can-do attitude that late at night I lack. If you’re not a problem-solver, please stay home. If you're a trained engineer take all my money and Pass Go. Sense of humour is a must! Winemaking is fun, but often it's not and it’s at these times you need to know how to laugh. 

So to re-cap. There will be long hours driving. There will be more things to carry than you can shake a stick at. When things go right it’s a miracle. When they don’t, we’ll have to do it again. I can promise you very little sleep, but rest be assured I have a good friend who makes great coffee. I've have another one who brews beer. You will be dirty, constantly, your body will learn to run off adrenaline effortlessly. You'll want to do everything you can to somehow capture in the bottle all this crazy energy. I mean I haven't quite managed this yet, but that's the idea.

I don’t like being a boss and I’m learning too, but — wait for the sales pitch — if you’re hands on, here’s your chance to have your hands in my 2022.

Too much?


Some deets:

  • Dates are from end-ish August to beginning October, with the last grapes coming in end-ish Sept.
  • I buy my grapes. There will be 4 trips. There will also be two actual harvests in actual vines in Auvergne which, oh yeah, is where I am. One in my vines and one in vines I share.
  • I appreciate you probably have a real life and you probably can’t stay for it all. We can talk! I am open to people on rotation, but let’s say minimum ‘stay’ shouldn’t be much less than 2 weeks.
  • See! What a boss! 
  • You will be fed and watered, and in exchange for your time you will get wine.
  • If you stay long enough, we can talk about you borrowing a tank and buying some grapes.
  • Bring sturdy shoes, a headlamp and your passport.
  • hfuellenkemperATgmailDOTcom

See you in T-two months!

*in my defence I already wrote about looking for an assistant du cave in January and you can re-read it here. 

F R U I T!



         OLD  F R I E N D S! 

                         N E W  F R I E N D S!                                     



 BAD THINGS!        


           OVER-FULL THINGS                                           

           LIVING IN A VAN-REALITIES                                    ENGINEERING 

                                    RAN OUT OF SPACE, PLEASE HELP ME






Thursday 16 June 2022

Tirage des bois

Thirty points about pulling wood arranged in narrative order: 

  1. This is my least favourite work.
  2. Except maybe for attachage which is also called liage and which makes the months that follow pruning my least favourite months because the one I'm writing about here comes before the other.
  3. But let’s start at the beginning. ‘Pulling wood’ means ‘removing wood you’ve cut during pruning from the wires’ or ‘tirage des bois’ for short which is French for 'war'. (I'm quoting myself here).
  4. Imagine a vine. Vines like to grow up, but humans like vines to grow sideways (*). This is because a vine needs support or will flop, and a sideway-supported vine is easier to work read: control than one with a support that trains it up high.
  5. (*) unless the vine is suited to a self-supporting system like goblet or pole-training and so don’t need wires hence don’t go sideways.
  6. Anyway so you’re imagining your vine trained along wires and you’re imaging the fruiting wood being supported sideways along these wires and you’re imagining how much easier all this linear-ness has made treating the vines, controlling foliage, controlling sunlight, harvesting and finally: pruning, because you prune last year’s fruiting wood which is — you guessed it — stretched out sideways along the wires.
  7. So now you’re imagining yourself pruning! (and if you can't I wrote a pretty descriptive piece about it here).
  8. And pruning!
  9. And pruning! You've been pruning for months! And finally you're done.
  10. But the wood you’ve cut (hopefully in three pieces but at a minimum more than once) is still clinging to the wire. 
  11. And because it is February, March or April and it better not be May because in May the buds will be out which makes May too late, you need to pull this wood off the wires so you can attach next year’s fruiting wood to this same wire.
  12. Easy, right?
  13. Personally my idea of easy doesn't stretch to activities with a high probability of blindness but I've heard I have impossibly high standards :)
  14. Yes, pulling wood is easier in plantations because first year vines don’t produce a lot of wood to pull. 
  15. Ditto for not very vigorous verging on dying vines like mine (no wood = no pull).
  16. And true: pulling wood in rows that are planted wide and that are flat is easier than when they’re narrow and up a mountain.
  17. And pulling wood, cramming it in a frizzled pile you've ish got jammed under one aching arm (even twigs get heavy) so you can pull with the other and leaving this pile at the end of the row is slightly easier than number 18 which is:
  18. pulling wood while pushing a burning wheelbarrow while stuffing the burning wheelbarrow with wood you’ve pulled to keep it burning without burning you nor anyone around you. 
  19. But this is hell, so it's in a different category.
  20. A vine is a vine, so even if you don’t work with vines, you understand that vines cling to stuff. 
  21. I think the botanical term for this is: vines cling to everything. 
  22. In layman's terms this is infuriating. 
  23. Call me bad at being an advanced species to let a dead piece of wood get the better of me but O-M-G is it  a n n o y i n g.
  24. HairEyesButtonsPiercingsZipsWiresOtherSticks:youNameIt,It’llCling!sThenWillWhipYou! 
  25. Can't they be mulched? 
  26. Some people do!
  27. But you can't if you don’t have the machine and not if your wood is plein de maladie and apparently it’s also not a good idea to mulch every year 
  28. (too much nitrogen you see),
  29. so instead you continue to twist and wrench and get cat-scratched as you pull and pile and the piles un-pile and then you re-pile and then you strike a match and they turn red then blinding violet white which is when you put on the côte de boeuf on what is now a grill. 
  30. My buddy Aaron also wrote about triage des bois! Two pieces in two months is I'm guessing probably the most anyone's written about it ever! A world record! For more on the same theme, read: 'Pulling wood:the least-exciting vineyard task in one of the Jura's most exciting vineyards.'

© ( :. All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates by pipdig