(Photo taken here at Domaine Rouge-Bleu.) Read about one harvester's experience in the following story column!

Reminder:  If you happen to be in Paris on October 7th then we would love to meet you at the American Library!

terroir (ter-waahr) noun, masculine

    : soil; land

un accent du terroir = a rural accent
la cuisine du terroir = country cooking
un poète du terroir = poet of the land
les mots du terroir
= words with a rural flavor


Audio File and Example Sentence: (Note: I'm afraid a couple of American "r's" slipped in to this recording...) Download Wav or Download MP3

Le terroir ? Il est très important pour la qualité des raisins que l'on peut obtenir, mais c'est surtout le travail de l'homme dans la vigne qui fera la différence, permettant au terroir de s'exprimer ou non.

(Would some of you like to volunteer to translate this one? Thanks for sharing your interpretations in the comments box!)

A Day in a French Life...
Our volunteer harvesters are now volunteering to write stories!  You'd think that after yesterday's wet-n-wild experience (the harvest took place among some very muddy and wet vines...) that the drenched from head-to-pieds pickers would've run home... Instead, they stayed put (with the help of sticky mud?), and eventually returned -- along with a truckload of grapes -- to the cellar, where they washed out all of the buckets and finished a galore of chores. Wet chickens they are not!

The following story was written (before the deluge) by friend and newbie farmer Denise. Enjoy it and please share it.

T E R R O I R Denise Lavoie

As someone earning a certificate in wine technology, the term "terroir" gets tossed around a lot and assumes an almost mystical quality. For me, it became something very real in my first day of harvest here in Provence.

Terroir is the mark a particular place stamps on the grapes and, ultimately, the wine made from those grapes. Place can also leave an indelible mark on people. While grape-picking can be fatiguing and troublesome on one's back, feet, and arms (and the vines seemed to have their way with my exposed forearms -- I have the red welts to prove it), in the end, it is my first, full taste of Provence that is stamped in my sensory memory: the green and gold of the grape leaves as far as the eye can see, soil with rocks the color of butter and foam, gnarled, gray old vines pushed low to the ground by constant mistral winds, deep blue grapes whose sweet, intense taste foreshadows the smooth, yet complex Rhone-blend wine to come; all against a clear, never-ending blue sky, and that mistral wind -- strong enough to knock you sideways, yet providing much needed relief from the heat of the late summer Provençal sun.

Add to this a large dose of good-natured, always helpful fellow harvesters, several languages, some friendly banter among the vines, and a vigneron who cares deeply about the fruit, and you have a pretty solid picture of the mark Provence -- this very real place -- has left on me. I have no doubt my body will ache at the end of each day, and I can (relatively easily) wash away the soil from my hair and the grape juice from my fingernails, but my first taste of Provence -- with its feast for the senses -- will remain and be recalled in each glass of Provençal produced wine that I drink.

Denise Lavoie, an American with Quebeçois roots, drinks wine and studies it via a small wine technology program in the Pacific Northwest. She also instructs at the college level. This is her first time visiting France. She met the Espinasses via an introduction from Robert Camuto, after reading his book Corkscrewed.

She can be reached at -- or leave her a note in the comments box.

The chore of chasing grapes.


Les Provençaux et Les Puppies

Puppies Best Friend and a couple of Mother Hens: Jean-Marc and Uncle Jean-Claude. (The other two puppies are patiently waiting their turn to be cuddled.)


French Clockmaker sign : a reproduction of an old French merchant's sign

Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves : made with no colorings, artificial preservatives, pulps, purees, juices or concentrates.

In French Music: "Au sourire de l'âme" by Pep's (recommended by my son, Max)

SmartFrench Audio CD's: Learn French from real French people!

French movie: Un coeur en Hiver / A Heart in Winter. Check out the reviews.

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