The Chain Gang – What’s Happening In June?

Our French season starts at the end of this month, with tours of Bordeaux and Provence starting on the 27th.

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.
The tricky business of tasting direct from the barrel

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.
Bordeaux, barrels at Chateau Loudenne
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!

Bordeaux, vineyards in Monbazillac Bordeaux, traditional French bottle cage. 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.

And Provence?

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.

Provence, the Alpilles

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.Provence, Pont du Gard

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!

A bonus for June visitors One of the  spectacular villages of the Luberon in Provence It used to cross the whole river, now it's only good for dancing on.

Our First Tours

June 27th – July 4th

Bordeaux Winetrail (Places available)
Provence (Places available)

July 4th – July 11th

Loire valley (Full)
Burgundy (Places available)

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