Friday, 30 January 2009

Wine Quote of the Week from La Grande Maison

"Une barrique de vin peut faire plus de miracles qu'une église pleine de saints"


"A barrel of wine is able to make more miracles that a church full of saints"

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Wine Quote of the Week from La Grande Maison

"I have enjoyed great health at a great age because everyday since I can remember I have consumed a bottle of wine except when I have not felt well. Then I have consumed two bottles."

The Bishop of Seville

...and a very big thank you to Garrison and John who sent us this exceptionally beautiful painting of the Napa Valley Vineyards after their stay here last year. The painting was done by Garrison in acrylic paint and was sent with the message...

"John and I loved it and wanted you to have it as it
reminds us of all the beautiful vineyards surrounding La Grande Maison!"

If you want to see more of Garrison Broekema's work then log on to

from San Franciso

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Pruning Vines for Loire Valley Wines

The snow is gradually starting to thaw and the pruning teams are back in the vines with their secateurs powered by compressed air. The tractor has been through first to trim the tops off the vines leaving amazing patterns in the snow.
The predominant method of pruning vines in this region of France is the single Guyot method. A cane from the previous years growth is selected. This is pruned to 8 nodes which will be tied down horizontally and produce the vertical shoots for this years growth.
A 'spur' is also selected and pruned to 2 nodes, these will produce shoots to be used as next years canes. Ideally the spur should be close to the head of the vine trunk and positioned along the line of the row to maximise plant 'energy' and trellis space and minimise damage from tractors.
Once last years vertical shoots have been cut from the main trunk the next team follows to pull out the shoots from the wires. These are then laid out in the middle of every other row before being mulched by a tractor. The mulch is part barrier against weeds and also replaces the nutrients lost in the growing process.Interested in coming on a 1 day Introduction to Viticulture Course? Please email for further details of our Vineyard Stay Courses for 2009.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Frozen River - The Sequel

Down at Chenhutte-Treves-Cunault it is even colder than in the vines right now with the Loire River bordered by an icey frame that clings to the banks and shivers.Sue spotted several Great White Egrets on the bank. These huge pure white herons (much larger than the Little Egret) are usually found around the saline lagoons of the South of France in the winter. They are pretty scarce and we think they may have flown north confused by the snow storms they have been experiencing in the south.
The Layon River is also under a think sheet of ice that shows no signs of thawing at the moment.
Think we might have found a lost reindeer in the ice though!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Snowed In - Day 4

We haven't been able to leave the house for 4 days now, well only by foot. It was fun to start off with, long walks in the vines with the dogs, dropping in on un-suspecting neighbours for chats, walking for 2 hours to Le Puy Notre Dame for simple provisions.
So it was great to be able to get out to the AMAP Organic market last night courtesy of David and Bella of Plantagenet Plantes who gave us a lift there to pick up our goods. It's not a regular market though. You order all your produce under a contract for 3 months in advance, you take all your own containers and re-fill them yourselves with the most amazingly fresh milk, yoghurt, and creme fraiche. Bread, eggs, goats cheese, vegetables, beer, honey and chickens are available and all locally produced and organic. No waste, no packaging, you recycle all your own containers and to top it all friendly cheerful producers who are proud of what they produce and happy to stand in the cold snow to deliver your goods. Brilliant!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Mad Dogs on the Piste!

The mere scattering of snow from yesterday evening has been replaced with a couple of inches of the white powdery stuff over night. So playtime for everybody as the dogs go crazy in the garden.

Willow discovering the joy of snow.Sue goes skiiing on the vineyard slopes!
...and we go all Val d'Isere
LGM across the snow covered vineyards.
The Apres Ski club at La Grande Maison. The slopes of Arthenay provide the perfect backdrop for a little afternoon's light toboganning and all our friendly neighbours come in afterwards for steaming hot cups of tea and christmas cake.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Brrrrh.... but it's warmer than Canada!

I've decided not to complain about the cold.
It's positively tropical out there right now compared to our friends in Canada who currently have a windchill of -41 oC.
We on the other hand have a mere scattering of snow but it's cosy and warm inside in front of the woodburner. So that is where we will stay until we re-surface on Thursday for our French classes and the AMAP Organic Market in Doue.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Brrrrh it's Freezing!

It was -4 oC this morning and for all of you who are more used to seeing the vines in full growth then this is the frostier picture.
There is no stopping the dogs though and they still need their twice/thrice daily walk over the hill and down the track to the vineyards around Le Puy Notre Dame. Luckily they don't seem to mind the cold as much as we do.
This is a bit of a giveaway though. I think they really prefer it in front of the fire on a day like this and who can blame them?
HRH ands Wills 2009

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Wine Quote of the Week from La Grande Maison and a New Years Resolution?

"A woman drove me to drink,

and I never even had the courtesy to thank her.

W.C. Fields

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year from La Grande Maison

Wishing all our family, friends, readers and guests a very Happy and Peaceful New Year 2009