The mobile-bottling machine and one man with a lot on his mind... and the day hasn't even begun yet. Read on, in today's story. 

chiffon (she-fown) noun, masculine
    : rag, duster, dust cloth

Check out the French Country Diary 2009 (desk diary & calendar)

Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce today's word and this expression "donner un coup de chiffon": Download chiffon.wav .Download chiffon.mp3

Terms & Expressions:

  vieux chiffons = old rags
  parler chiffons = to talk about fashion
  un chiffon de papier = a scrap of paper

... and this expression (and example, in today's story): donner un coup de chiffon = to give something a polish / touch up with a cloth

Yesterday, beneath a pouring Provencal sky, we bottled our 2007 Mistral*: all 10,300 examples of it (and just in time to clear the cellar for next week's incoming grapes!). If the bottling process took only seven hours, this was thanks to an international influx of helping hands. From the east and west
coasts of the States, and as far away as Australia, aid arrived, strong, smiling and a bit sopping wet...

Flanked by a row of flowering rosemary and a field of rapidly ripening rasins*--a thundering sky on the horizon--we worked the day away. Some of us were stationed inside the mobile bottling truck, where the bottles made their way down the conveyor belt and into the cartons--others were posted outside,
offering up empty cartons or "catching" the full ones as they slid down the chain-bottomed slide.

"Eh merde!" Jean-Marc complained, when the truck lost power after yet another celestial grumble from above. We stared at the bottles, now frozen in place, inside the machine. Well, at least it isn't raining!, I thought, at which point the sky responded with a cantankerous CLAP and, like that, down poured the pluie.*

Michelle When the lights returned, the bottles followed suit--spitting out from the truck's entrails in time for us to collect and pack them. I worked side-by-side with Michelle, who had flown in from Paris, via San Francisco. Erin, from Australia, was our supplier: it was her job to build the boxes, insert the
intercalaire,* and hand us the prepared boxes in time to fill them.

As the rain poured down, droplets began hitting the bottles on the conveyor belt, the rain having made its way into the truck with the help of the wind. I watched as Michelle flew into action: drying each and every bottle with the tail-end of her T-shirt! Taking her example, I cradled the newly-labeled bottles into my own T-shirt, in time to give them a good patting dry and, like that, after a quick coup de chiffon* the bottles were laid to bed in cozy, dry cartons... having been tended to like well-fed babies, caressed, and even blessed, by the baptismal pluie de Provence. Braise-bottling

Photos of our équipe*:  Charles (Florida) photo to the right, Ross (Washington State) ... whoops, can't find the photo of Ross..., Erin (Australia) above photo (on left), Michelle (California) above photo (on right).... More pictures as the grape harvest gets underway.... And, yep, that's Braise-the-Dog in the photo to the right... ever hard at work on her siesta, as the world whirls round her.

Talk about today's word or story or share a vignette of your own, here:

le mistral (m) = a) violent northern wind b) Mistral 2007 = one of our Domaine Rouge-Bleu wines--find them here.
le raisin (m) = grape; la pluie (f) = rain; un intercalaire (m) = divider; le chiffon = une équipe (f) = team

In French music: Accoustic France:
Experience the romance and charm of Paris and the French countryside with Acoustic France, a CD collection featuring contemporary chanson and acoustic pop by established stars and up-and-coming artists from today's thriving French music scene.

(Art Poster) L'Art de la Mode: Chic French Frocks in Satin Cloth and Chiffon Taffeta


Travel accessories: Adaptor Plug Kit - Handy kit helps you plug U.S. electrical appliances into most foreign outlets. 4 coded adaptor plugs with easy reference chart correspond to most countries worldwide: Europe, U.K., Australia, N.& S. America.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Rosalie Hill Isom

Il y a un joli petit banc en haut de la plage de Ciotat a l'est. Face au grand bleu de la Mediterrannee, on peut s'asseoir avec ses reves ou simplement savourer cette beaute du grand large. Partie de la-bas, maintenant dans mon Colorado, j'y reve de sa solidite, de sa silhouette qui m'invite toujours.


Is that Braise in the picture? The doggie is hard at at work!


It is obvious that you have worked that dog too much ;)


Looks like Braise might have been sampling the product a bit!

laura @ cucina testa rossa

OH HOW EXCITING!!! I wish I could be there to help! Funny comments about Braise. I thought the same thing as Wendi :)

George Rusky

Good evening
My granddad had a large vineyard in the south of the Ukraine and as boy of 13 I used to help him with harvesting and making wine on warm September days.
There were the blessed days when granddad’s four daughters with their families were invited and accommodated in his big house for working in the vineyard on the next day.

Dear Kristin
Your wonderfully written story has awakened my memories of those unforgettable days of our family wine fest.
Thank you very much

Frank Chappell

Thanks again, Kristin, for all that you do.

I am back with you since "chomer" and left a comment at "Basque". I'm not sure if you go back to past words to see if comments have been added.

Jennifer in OR

What a feat - that's incredible time. I'm struck by the wonderful friends who gathered to help in the effort.

Christine Dashper

Are you sure Braise hasn't been sampling the wares pre-bottling???


Un coup de chiffon -- I love this expression. Have been giving mille coups de chiffon to various parts of our house all week long in anticipation of a house guest, but my travail is nothing in comparison with yours. Thank you for this amazing description of the work that goes into the production of Rouge-Bleu -- and all your wonderful friends.

Bon courage!


In 1971, I sat on the rocks on the beach at La Ciotat and loved the blue-green colors of the Mediterranian. I had bought a straw mat (which I still have)to make the rock at little more confortable.

John Clements

I just ran across Johnny Depp here in Florida. I didn't get enough time with him to ask about his wine he bottles in France. Anyone ever run acoss his vineyard or wine?


Looks like you've put together a real dream team -- many hands make light work. Now when I open a bottle of Mistral I'll be able to picture everyone who had a hand in getting it to table.

Wishing you all continued success and happiness.

Mike Armstrong

Kristin, forgive the ignorance of this question. Is it normal to bottle last year's harvest just in time to clear the space for the current year's grapes?

Joanne Johnson

Love the photo of Braise bottling! Looks like she's sampled one too many. Here's to a great vintage!

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