Monday, 30 January 2012

Sunlit Slopes Covered in Vines - Not!

The edition of the Michelin Green Guide to the Loire Chateaux that we own speaks of Preuilly rising on the north bank of the Claise amidst woodland, meadows and vineyards. Ahem...it appears to be quite some time since the nice man from the Michelin guide visited. The vines are long gone, but traces of the old agricultural ways are visible everywhere in the form of cabanes des vignes (workers field huts, particularly associated with vineyards).

Looking east up the Claise Valley - several vine huts,
but nary a vine to be seen.
Theoretically they have heritage protection, which means you are not allowed to demolish them. Sadly, since they have not acquired a modern use, this means they are simply left to decay and fall down. Their original purpose was to store tools and provide shelter from the elements to field workers while they ate their lunch. The huts usually have a fireplace - much of the work in the vineyards, such as pruning, was done over winter, so a place to thaw out was very welcome. The huts also often have a mini-cellar - just a hole dug in the floor with a trapdoor, which was for keeping your drink cool in the summer.

This small private plot is one of the few planted on the
slopes today.The vine hut middle distance suggests
the grapes would once have been more extensive.
Now the little buildings, each one of them different, stand scattered about, one every few fields, covered in vegetation and losing roof slates. They are too small to be turned into holiday accommodation, and modern farmer workers hardly get out of their airconditioned tractor cabs, so their only function is to add a sense of delapidated charm to the view.

For more information (in French) and photos see the Commune de Preuilly-sur-Claise website.

Susan

4 comments:

Tim said...

Yes, the only commercial vineyard left in Touraine du Sud is Domaine de Ris... which reminds me, I haven't seen their "Les Sabliers" around for a while. The others are around, Descartes and Yzeures Intermarches stock them, as does the GP tourist office, but "Les Sabliers" was my favourite. Light, fruity white with a touch of gooseberry.

Ken Broadhurst said...

My Michelin Green Guide describes the Preuilly area as un paysage de plateaux boisés et de vallées parfois couvertes de vignes. I guess parfois is the key word. Is it a temporal or spatial parfois, that is the question.

Jocelyn said...

Why have the vines gone ?

Susan said...

Tim: we think Domaine de Ris may have folded.

Ken: Sounds like the Michelin are bet hedging to me :-)

Jocelyn: the usual reasons - disease and lack of labour at the beginning of the 20th C, later, after the Common Agricultural Policy was introduced, subsidies to grub up vines to control over production and subsidies that favoured cereal crops (which is what these slopes mostly are now).