Field Trip to Montpellier

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Mark’s class had a 5-day field trip to attend a winery and vineyard equipment expo in Montpellier France, which is on the Mediterranean coast, about a 5 hour bus trip across the country from Bordeaux.

We had a couple of days at the expo, which was a chance to see, touch, and learn about all sorts of equipment.  For vineyard management there were tractors (big and small) and a wide variety of attachments for soil tillage, vine  pruning, chemical spraying and harvesting.  Truly amazing what’s been invented to make work in the vineyard quicker and easier.  And for the winery there were tanks, barrels, presses, conveyors, sorters … you name it, they’ve thought of it.  There was a bit of wine tasting too!

After a couple days at the expo we then got to visit some wineries in the southern Rhône and Languedoc appellations.  It’s a very different landscape on this side of France. The climate is Mediterranean, much dryer and warmer than Bordeaux.  The vegetation is scrubby cedar, cypress, and live oaks, with lots of aromatic plants like wild rosemary, thyme, fennel, and lavender.  These plants and landscape (referred to in French as garrigue) have a distinctive smell, which is particularly strong during the hot dry summers.  It even seems to impart these same characteristics  in the wines from this region.  Red wines here are primary from Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre grapes.  Rosé (pink) wine is also common.  There was also an nice white wine from Granache Blanc grapes.

And in this part of France a ‘mas’ is a traditional farmhouse, and is often used in the name of wineries.  We’ve also noticed horse head sculptures over cellar doors in this part of France …but not sure of the significance.  We’ll have to get back with you on that one.

An interesting trip, but now it’s back to school and a bunch of exams before Christmas!

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