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Harvest Time for the Rural Expanse of France

August 29th, 2018 · No Comments · France, Languedoc

(Photo credit: Domaine de Arjolle )

When most of the planet’s people hear “France” they think “Paris”.

Certainly that is the case for Americans.  And I don’t see why it would not be true across the spectrum of humanity.

France and Paris, Paris and France … a duo.

But only about one-sixth of French people — around 11 million — live in metropolitan Paris and its environs — generally known as the Ile-de-France.

Some 55 million (about 83 percent) of France’s 66 million people do not live in Paris. They are spread all over the biggest (by area) country in the European Union.

Which sometimes leads outsiders to forget that France is, in many ways (even in the 21st century), a rural and agricultural country.

We are reminded of that on a daily basis, here in the south of France. Our village has a population of about 700, and most of the economic activity here pertains to la ferme — the farm. And especially the vineyards.

Paris may worry about world affairs, but here in the fertile south of France, the people are far more interested in something much more basic.

The harvest.

The grape harvest has begun, and everyone in our little town, and in every small town in France will already know: This is supposed to be a good harvest.

Particularly in the wine sector.

France produces the world’s second-largest volume of wine, behind only Italy. In the south of France, sometimes it is difficult to figure out what drives the economy — other than wine and perhaps wheat.

Anyway, a good wine harvest is good news. Especially after the poor harvest of 2017, when a late freeze damaged many vines throughout the country.

This year, the grapes got lots and lots of sun, and the wine yield is expected to be among the best the country has had.

That is good news for the town and the region and for France.

It probably is good news for consumers, too, because higher production generally has the effect of pushing down prices of wine.

On the flip side, a big harvest doesn’t necessarily mean a great vintage; the vines that survived last year’s freeze produced what appears to be some very good wines. (All that stuff about the grapes needed to “suffer” being borne out.)

But the growers here in the Languedoc have to be happy that their vines are heavy with grapes.

People in Paris may not be talking about it, but in the rest of this Texas-sized country … those of us down on the farm can feel the good vibrations.


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