Halt! Harvest Time. The next edition may or may not go out on Monday... depends on the state of the grapes!

une impatience grandissante

    : a growing anticipation


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Comment décrire les sentiments d'un vigneron la veille des vendanges? C'est une impatience grandissante! How to describe a winemaker's feelings prior to the harvest? Anticipation!


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Une Impatience Grandissante

I'm up early, looking for a word to describe the general atmosphère around here--at an 18 acre Vauclusian vineyard... 24 hours prior to harvest time! This side of the open window, where a minty morning breeze reaches me, I hear a rooster crowing in a far off basse-cour and the rumble of a tractor in the leafy field to the west, opposite which the sun has yet to rise from behind Mont Ventoux; given the headlights which brighten the vine rows, my guess is that the farmer harvested le grenache or le cinsault throughout the cool night. Not a bad idea considering the week's sweltering temperatures. Though it feels like la canicule, a true heatwave happens when stifling temperatures continue into la nuit, without relief. 

Jean-Marc tells me that it will be a little cooler this weekend, that there may even be un peu de pluie followed by a light Mistral. I keep my fingers crossed for our own vendange, which leads me to settle, finally, on today's word (also the title of today's missive): "A Growing Impatience", or, in less poetic prose: anticipation. Only, every time I think of the word "anticipation", it throws me back to high school, when my friend Holly, learning of my prom date and bent on seeing my face flush red, sang the tune by Carly Simon: "Anticipation" ( is making me wait!...). Holly sang the Heinz ketchup version and not the Carly Simon original, which we were unaware of, it being a little before our time). As Holly sang, I prepared to go to the dance with a junior on whom I had a short-term crush. And now, three decades later, I've another crush coming on.... A Grape Crush!

To be honest, my husband (no connection to the aforementioned prom date) is the one in love with grapes--and the crushing of them--and, because I vowed to follow him anywhere, I have ended up here, in the Rhône Valley, anticipating the arrival of so many harvesters who will soon sit down to the table and wonder "Qu'est-ce qu'on mange?"

What's for lunch, indeed!!! Never mind that our frigo is bursting and our garde-manger now groans beneath the weight of its bounty; the question now is how to get all those ingredients to add up to a satisfying meal? It seems we're in for a humble beginning (my brother-in-law has voted for les sandwiches. He is only being practical, trying to inspire my inner American cook; now to dig in deep, past le ketchup and le peanut butter.... and find her --'else perpetuate a certain gastronomic myth which has the French assuming that hamburgers and Coke are on every star-spangled menu!).

Meantime, my husband, Chief Grape, is busy with his own pre-harvest flurry. He is washing out buckets, or seaux, painting the old benne, which will receive all those ripe raisins, and scouring his cement tanks. I am relieved to hear him whistling and joking and stopping to eat his lunch -- what a different picture this is from four years ago, when I witnessed a gaunt figure racing back and forth, from the cellar to the field, fueled by his own sweating flesh. He never took the time to eat, and stayed up late into the night trying to keep one step ahead of the voracious vendange. I feared the harvest would consume him completely. In the end I understood that he had put himself, sweat and tears, into the wines that he made.

These days my husband pushes away a part of his lunch... and I wrap up les restes to snack on later. He is no longer a skinny first-year vigneron, he is a grape chief, which, come to think of it, makes me Mrs Chief ! I think it may be time, now, to do away with so much self-doubt, and begin to live up to my new name, Mrs Chief, by getting into some of the former, beginning with the harvest menu....


Le Coin Commentaires

Corrections, comments, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box


 Please have a look at how last year's harvest jitters were handled, here, in the story "Affolement" or "Panic" - you'll also see Smokey's Elizabethan headgear....

 See a picture (from the story reference, above) of what Jean-Marc looked like after the first "voracious" vendange. He has since gained back all the lost weight.

French Vocabulary

l'atmosphère (f) = atmosphere

la basse-cour = farmyard

le grenache = a grape variety

le cinsault = a big-sized grape used in rosé wine

la canicule = heatwave

la nuit = night

un peu de pluie = a little rain

le mistral = a kind of northern wind

la vendange = wine, or grape, harvest

qu'est-ce qu'on mange? = what's for lunch?

le frigo = fridge

le garde-manger = pantry

le seau = bucket

la benne = the moveable bin at the back of a truck

le raisin = grape

les restes (nmpl) = left-overs


For those of you who asked for some Smokey and Braise photos... Here's Smokey, ogling the carrot salad (I like to mix pureed avocado, olive oil, lemon, and roasted (sometimes burnt!) pine nuts inside.

 Here's another harvest lunch possibility... now if only tomatoes will stay in season for another month... Click here for the Tomato Tart recipe.


Braise (Smokey's mom) says: "I'll eat anything!"

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Janet Corrette

Bonne Chance..good luck with the grape harvest!! I'll bet alot of work, but from previous posts, an enjoyable extended family time..still love pictures of Smokey and deat Braise!!!!

Janet Corrette

dear Braise!!

Ophelia in Nashville

Just the thought of organizing lunch for everyone every day overwhelms me. You are amazing. And that tomato pie looks fabulous. Being just a little older, I know ever word to that Carly Simon song and the others on the CD, too.

Merci, Kristin, et bonne vendange!

Bill in St. Paul

I can imagine how Jean-Marc is feeling after waiting nearly a year for the harvest and anticipating how the harvest will turn out. It must be both stressful and...what?...joyful. Good luck with the harvest, I'd love to be there to help, but the last (and only) time I helped with a grape harvest I only lasted half a day (but I blame that on the wine that was provided with the lunch).

Paul Heffron

Hi Kristin,

I've been having very simple sandwiches of sliced garden fresh tomatoes on white bread with mayonnaise. Nothing else. They're very good, and obviously very easy to make. Do any of your inlaws make home made mayonnaise?

Good luck on the harvest,

Paul Heffron

Judy Bell

Bonne Harvest. Braise has to be one of the most beautiful dogs I've ever laid eyes on; Smokie one of the cutest. Puree an avocado -- what a concept! I will try this. Thank you for French Word!


bonne chance pour le vendange! can't wait to taste these in a coming summer

Jens, Copenhagen, Denmark

Bonnes vendanges! You can tell Chief Grape that I will be visiting his new Danish importer, Jesper Mansted, this afternoon for some tasting of Domaine Rouge-Bleu.

BAFA Studio

With Chief Grape putting so much of himself into the 'life of the grape' from beginning to end, it's sure to be a bonne vendange. As for lunch, brilliant.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for the harvest wishes and notes about Braise and Smokey!

Bill in St. Paul: we're serving beer for lunch (remember last year's kegs?)... so if you change your mind and want to "face the grapes" (you can bring Ann along for encouragement!) then let us know!

Paul, those tomato sandwiches sound refreshing - just the fare needed when returning from the scorching fields!

Jens, I've shared your comment with the Chief of the Raisin fields. Bonne degustation!

Off to grate some carrots...

Linda R.

Growing up in Montana's wheat country, I have many memories of harvest as a youngster - my mom fixing and taking lunch out to the men in the field, the end of the day meal, the smell and crunch of freshly-combined wheat, the grasshoppers that spit tobacco juice ... ugh - I had forgotten about that! Looking at the skies, hoping the hail storm takes another path; dirt roads and trips to the grain elevator, bouncing on the seat as my mom drove a crankety old truck. Seems like another place in time ... thanks for the memories.

Linda R.

post scriptum - et bonne vendage!! : )

Diane Kish

The carrot salad looks delicious! Please share the recipe!

Amy Kortuem

Everything does tend to get easier as we get more used to the process. Not that putting on a harp concert and harvesting grapes have anything in common, but I do remember the first time I gave a concert I was a MESS. Stressed, running around, not sleeping, not enjoying it at all. Now the prep has become routine so I can actually enjoy the performance.

Best wishes on your grape harvest. And thanks for that tomato tarte recipe...I might have to raid my roma tomato plants tonight and cook one up!


In Clarksburg, CA they harvest at night and make wine which they label Night Harvest - and I think they charge more for it!!

anne wirth

What an exciting time! It feels like something wonderful is happening with all the activity and people around. Good Luck with the harvest.
The tomato pie looks so yummy. You eat well.

Julie S. from San Diego

Bonne chance with the harvest and all the food preparation, Kristin! The tomato tart looks delicious. I copied it so that I can fix it myself. I love it when you share recipes like this. I have heard about the heat this summer in France. Here in San Diego it is hot too and a little unseasonably humid for the area. The weather change is just around the corner, so I guess we need to wait just a little bit longer.
Bon courage!!

Candy (back in CO again!)

Kristin, you could be food photographer! Those photos of the carrot salad and the tomato tart make my mouth water! And how good of Braise to keep a watchful eye on the proceedings! :) Have you thought of doing an all American BBQ for everyone? Throw some hamburgers and brauts on the grill? Sounds like some of your helpers are expecting something like that. Ah, but then you'd have to bring out the ketchup! Ah, well . . . I'll be thinking of all of you as you begin your yearly harvest ritual. So glad that JM is feeling well these days. This is the first chance i've had to read your blog as I've been in the throes of packing/loading/unloading/unpacking for me and my mom. But we're finally here and (almost) settled back in my house in Colorado! Life is good! Cheers!

Kate Dawson-Taylor

Remember Kristin that behind every great man is an amazing woman.Mrs Chief Grape I salute you.All love,kate

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

Good luck! And the photo of that tomato tart reminds me of the one I had just before I left France this summer. It was absolute perfection in its simplicity. I'll have to see if I can recreate it.

Sandra Vann

Bonne Vendange Kristin!

Your photos of the carrot salad and tart are so enticing, I am going to try to duplicate them for the weekend! Can only imagine the challenge (stress!) of creating a menu for your harvest helpers each season. You always pull it off with grace, style and laughter and fun it seems. I would be beside myself! :)
Hoping the weather cools there a bit and all goes very well. We so hope to join you for a vendange one year! Bonne chance.
Amities and good wishes being sent your way.

Sandra Vann

Love Kate's message! How true.
Kristin I still have space in my women's tour to S. France in the Fall...wanted fun, adventurous women to join us on the Riviera and hinterland villages! :)
Can I post a link to the brochure?
Merci beaucoup.
Sandy Vann


Such a joy to read this over my cappuccino this morning. Adore your photos, following the the harvest (as am a cork dork) and oh-my-god the food! Can't help smiling at photos of Braise & Smokey. But I have to add, that whole 'ketchup' thing drove me crazy in Italy too! I was at a Chianti Classico antiprima last year and I couldn't believe what so-called experts who'd claimed they lived in America for some time, were putting out there: that every restaurant in America has ketchup on the table - mondieu, where were these people eating? Bonne Vendange to you & Chief Grape!

Bill Facker

Aloha Chief & Chiefess - Wishing you a successful harvest .. no rain .. little pain .. smiles on faces after lunch! Bill Facker

Sandra Vann

Mille mercis Kristin...
The url link for the women's tour to Southern France in the Fall, is below. We still need a couple of more fun women, looking for a get away trip to the Cote d'Azure yet. We can move it to early October.
Thank you so much for permission to share the link that Jeff created to his site for me.All the best at this busy and exciting time of year to you and your family.

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

Love the pictures of Smokey and Braise. Still missing my Sox. The tomato tart looks really, really good. I try to fix light meals here in the summer where the temps. are 112.

Best of Luck with the harvest. xoxo


Have a wonderful harvest! We have had an interesting week with an earthquake the other day and awaiting a hurricane now. I am thankful you are not having to deal with that there.

Have a good weekend!

Christine Dashper

That's seems to have come around quickly! Happy Harvesting!

Buffy that tomato tart you made for us when we visited you last year.


I am always amazed at how much earlier you harvest over there. It will be near another month here.
Maybe this will help you out....watermelon salad. Or any melons I guess would work. I know there are wonderful ones where you live.
In a large bowl. Cube melon into bite size pieces. Add thinly slice red onion. Salt and pepper melon. Make a vinegarette and pour over melon. Crumble goat cheese over all and diced mint (or basil). Sounds strange, but is delicious especially on hot days. And easy!

lou bogue

Bonne chance with this years harvest, brings back my fond memories of helping for two days last year, and the great lunches you provided and sitting around the table with a fabulous group of helpers and the puppies waiting for something to drop, I will be in Avignon from the 14th to the 20th, would love to stop by and wish you much good luck with the harvest, will call Jean-Marc" cell and see which day would be best at around 1 in the after noon, during break time, hope it is the best yet, Au revior. lou

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristin,

Seems like just a year ago that you were looking at a similar dilemma. Knowing how conscientious you are, I’m sure everything will turn out super.

Your harvest reminds my of my young years on the farm and the thrashing ring that harvested oats. A group of farmers joined together and went to each of the farms to harvest the oats. The straw was blown into a straw stack to be used later for bedding the animals. The ladies of each of the farms would serve a huge and delightful noontime meal.

Here’s the poem I wrote for your harvest last year. Jean-Marc had just received an outstanding award for his wine.

In the beautiful rolling hills of southern France
In the lovely area that’s known as Provence
Where purple lavender flowers, in a mistral breeze, sway
There’s a vineyard making wine the time-proven way

Luscious green vines aligned as in formation
Fruit clusters ready for a taste bud sensation
Soon Chief Grape and his “Grape-aids” will start
Taking the precious fruit to the “Cave” by cart

There’s lots of mystery hidden within the cave’s wall
Secret dos and don’ts! Only “le patron” knows them all
Grapes go in and wine comes out. That much we do know
Also, by taster’s choice, Rouge-Bleu is “Best of Show”

Pat Cargill

Bonne vendange to Chief Grape and clan and crew! The tomato tart and carrot salad look delicious and of course, sweet patient Braise calmly observing all is a delight to see. Perhaps young one Smokey is out rolling in the flower beds Bonne weekend to all.

Kristin how I love your delightful expressions . and your comments re the vendage. I am with you in spirit and feel inspired to pick up my brush once again, put my visionary scene together of you all so busy, with the anticipation of all the goodies you have created for the lunch. I guess you must have many fellow American friends and supporters so hope they delight in eating all your French surprises you are able. to provide. I miss my visits to the markets and creating my meals from whatever is available. I definately will have to make my way to you next year and help you in the kitchen.

Your Great granny artiste ami
June (Gold Coast Aust.)


Bonjour Mrs Chief Grapes: I love today's photos that make my mouth water :D
It is no wonder that chief Grapes is no longer gaunt with such healthy and delicious dishes. Et sûrement le succès de son vin lui donne de l'appétit et du bonheur. Bon courage à vous tous!
La tarte aux tomates looks so yummy, Kristin. Merci pour la recette, I shall try that soon.
Bonne vendange et bon weekend!

Linda Hollander

Madame Chief Grape:

Your job as "Chef Grape" is the equal of any at the harvest.

I hereby voluntoeer to be your sous chef at the next harvest, and I hope you already have one!

Bon chance to all, I look forward to trying the wine if I can find some in Maine or Boston.



I recently read a great book called The Families of the Vine by American Michael Sanders, which takes place in SW France. I never realized how much work went into the growing, harvesting and making of wines until I read this book. I applaude you and your husband for being brave enough to become vignerons! Bonne vendange!

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

Blessings for a successful harvest!!! May stomachs be satisfied and hearts be joyful and light throughout!

Wish I were there to be assistant-to-Mrs. Chief and we could humor our way through. I know you will shine. You are an amazing woman and will be in my heart and thoughts.

Oh, your carrot salad looks fantastic (no wonder Smokey’s ogling…) and love the tomato tart. Enjoy!

Frank Levin

I followed the link to Max's favorite tomato pie and made it that very night with tomatos from the garden. I had remembered it from when it first ran, but then I didn't enjoy the tomato bounty of this season.
It was awesome, quick and beautiful to look at. We will have it often until the tomatos are gone which, thankfully, will not be for another six weeks at least. Thanks for the re-run Kristin.
BTW I think the next time I do it I will put a layer of very thinly sliced onions on top of the cheese and then the tomatos.
Good luck with harvest. It is on here in Hood River as well. I see from J-M's linkedin post that the young vines are proving "backbreaking."


The vendange is starting the end of this week here in Burgundy.
At the Super U this morning there were carts filled with the "HUGE" quantities on food on sale for the vendanges.

Life here is a long way form my Minnesota days.

Bonne vendanges


Is the expression 'avoir du chien' exclusive for dogs, or does it apply elsewhere? Is there an equal expression for people?
Thank you. I continue to suffer extreme jealousy with each glimpse into life in France!

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