When we bought the orchard we were assured that the grapes were particularly good, but last year we didn't get any white ones because the vines were badly affected by the dry summer. This year I thought we weren't going to get any either, because of the late frost, but recently I noticed several small bunches.
Our neighbour, tidying up our white grapes.I'm not a huge fan of home grown table grapes - they are always far too pippy, with grapes the size of peas, in my experience. They are also the last of the fruit to ripen, and last year I was so exhausted by processing the bounty of cherries followed by plums followed by nectarines followed by pears followed by peaches followed by apples that I couldn't have cared less about the plentiful red grapes, and couldn't be bothered processing them - what exactly does one do with grapes, anyway?
I did dutifully prune the grapes in the winter, as instructed by our orchard neighbour, but after that I've more or less ignored them. This is clearly not good enough, because in late August he came over and fettled them so they don't trail on the ground, and more sun can get in to ripen what grapes there are. One bunch, with pea sized fruit, is already ripe and proved to be (surprise, surprise) full of pips, but very sweet.
Our neighbour also inspected our young walnut trees and clipped off growth below the grafts and staked one he thought was still a bit wimbly wombly. This poor young tree is having a hard time, and I thought it had died in the spring, as it didn't burst into leaf until June.
Our neighbour stakes a young walnut tree.Vines, at least wine grapes, are an integral part of much of the Loire, so I should take more of an interest in the husbandry of my own vines, especially as grapes are grown less and less around Preuilly. Simon pointed out to me that the Michelin Green Guide describes Preuilly as:
"Preuilly, which has retained numerous interesting old houses and the former abbey church beneath the ruins of its fortress, rises in terraces on the north bank of the Claise amid woodland, green meadows and vineyards."I'm afraid it must have been some time since the Michelin people visited. There are no commercial vineyards now in Preuilly, although a number of people maintain small private parcels of vines (and I mean small - a few rows here and there, often in the middle of nowhere). The grapes may have gone, but there is currently a great interest in truffle oak plantations, and it is these that now grace the slopes on the outskirts of Preuilly.