The Off Season 10

My Farmer’s Almanac has advice for every season.  From a winter to do list with things like “sort your seeds” and “clean your tools,”  I latched on to this tidbit:  “Take time to REST – in two months it all starts up again!” Around here most local, small-scale farmers slow down a bit in winter:  all the potatoes and kiwis are in their cellars; you can’t make cheese since the goats aren’t producing milk, etc.  Except farmer-heroes like Didier: he raises ducks as well as crops, does agricultural research, makes his famous foie gras in his own laboratory, and sells […]

At Year’s End 8

  Your Yoke of Fear   I give you back your yoke of fear It’s broken now. Rent asunder, I am broken too   I give you back your yoke of fear It’s broken now Useless, like the perverse turbulence that stirred up worst case scenarios In your imagination In your projections In your fury   If only you had known then That it was in vain Useless Worse than useless. When real danger arose It kept you from dressing yourself in the very armor, The only armor That might have helped In those moments when yes, we must take […]

La Tourbeille in London – 2017 3

In the envelope:  plane tickets to London, passes for the Gatwick Express, Oyster cards for the Underground and keys to a beautiful apartment in Pimlico.   When one of our dear nephews said, “Come to London and tell your story,” we never expected such a very red carpet.   I remember this particular nephew at age seven, dividing his time between reclusive hours reading “The Philosopher’s Stone” long before Harry became a household word, and running with the raucous herd of franco-british-american cousins stampeding through an indulgent Grandmére’s house.    He is now an apparition in suit and tie, carrying […]

Taverne – There’s Magic in a Beginning 13

The bank called it a coin perdu.    “No one will come.  Lack of experience, lack of credentials, big risk, big No.” But on a quiet, misty evening in June, our mayor and town council helped us cut the bright ribbon.  The village Taverne officially opened. The first week neighbors and curious locals stopped by.   They exclaimed at the extraordinary view. They praised the food and wine and prices and atmosphere; said this was just what they’d been waiting for.  Some of them pointed out their houses or villages in the valley below or on the hilltops some 10 […]

Coming Soon – La Taverne du Belvedere 13

Several years ago I dreamed there was a secret Taverne on the property.   The door was hidden to all but the initiate.   If you were lucky enough to cross the threshold you entered a fire-lit place of laughter, flowing with wine and beer.   It was an old fashioned kind of place, radiating human warmth. Years on, in one of those strange twists in the plot line of real life, we find ourselves on the brink of opening just such a place, our own – “La Taverne du Belvedere.” It has been a year of discovery, to understate the case, for […]

La Tourbeille in Paris – 2017 5

We have lived and loved many cities – but dare I say, we have a particular weakness for Paris, city of brave St Geneviève and brave St Elizabeth, city of erudition, of romance, of high standards for all that encompasses gastronomy, wine and pleasure. So joy it was indeed to be back in Paris last week when dear friends Dominique and Jacques hosted a Vertical Tasting of our wines in their home. To spoil our tasters we went to one of the finest cheese shops in Paris, as only the Parisians can boast, for they take first pick of the […]

Resistance 3

I turned away from last week’s Economist, with its haunting cover of Trump’s lipstick kiss on Putin’s cheek, to page 10 of our local newspaper, Le Resistant. Unlike most of today’s news outlets, Le Resistant doesn’t live on bad news.  Of course there are the usual reports of burglaries, fires and accidents, but most of the stories are about people who don’t groan much about the world because they’re busy doing something about it. Like the tiny village down the hill, where the mayor sponsored a drive to set up a young woman in her own vegetable growing business; 200 […]

Winter Solstice 2016 – Tuning the Radio 2

At first we were just ruminating and tinkering.  How to entice beneficial micro critters into the soil; how to prepare potions from the “weeds” in the prairies… At first it was mostly amusing.  Stumbling on Henri’s odorific jars of fermented vegetables in my linen closet (sauerkraut and the like for healthy gut flora); trolling a pasture for fresh cow patties to fashion a “praline” dip for fragile tree roots. Just trying things out, trying to find our north. In our ramblings, we sought out the rural elders. They proudly hobble around their havens of pre 50’s bio diversity, amidst beehives […]

Pressing Day 2016 5

A short video clip of Pressing Day: contortionist John, shoveling Brothers, goodbye to the valiant grape skins:     Something about the day of press that always evokes a shiver. It’s the time of year when that same neighbor reminds me of the young man who died trying to pull his father out of a vat; both were overcome by carbon dioxide, both found by the mother. Yesterday I opened the lid of a high tank at the end of fermentation. That woozy sensation, precursor to the fainting-and-falling scenario, was demonic indeed. To say nothing of that pneumatic press we […]

Harvest 5

We were picking the grapes for our Rosé when the driver of an industrial harvesting machine passed by.   He looked at us and looked at our baskets and clucked:  “Hand harvest. That’s work.” Indeed it was.  But our family-and-friends hand harvest is one of my favorite rituals of the year.  We spend days preparing the rows, while John tears up reams of calculations trying to estimate how much surface area will translate into tonnage which will translate into liquid capacity of the Rosé tank.  Far from exact science since you don’t really know yield until the juice is in the […]