During 2015 I met some wonderful people who write lovely, interesting blogs and who have been very encouraging in spite of my feeble efforts so far. And as I can't let them down, I'll dedicate this post to a photographic summing up of 2015 and all the wonderful people who helped us make it work.
Every year we host young people from all over the world eager to experience life in France and in some cases to understand the work involved on a vineyard.
Louisa Hoppe joined us in May from Stuttgart and brought a huge ray of sunshine into all of our lives. I have very few pictures of her, the main reason being that she was constantly behind the camera rather than in front!
Here she is on the left with David Douglas Clifford (our New Zealand cellar hand from several years ago) and Emilie from Denmark.
Some of the loveliest photos that I've posted this year on Facebook were the work of Louisa and I really feel that this is a good opportunity to thank her for her patience and talent a little more publicly. Here's a taste.
Needless to say all these photo shoots absolutely had to be accompanied by tea and cake sampling !
In July every year we also host delightful young Americans who have spent a month at our son Pierre's university in Toulouse learning French and the essentials of French agriculture and its produce. This can sometimes be a challenge especially with the vast contrast between American and French cuisine. The following month they are spread out around France on farms to experience farm life first hand. The month they spend with us is mostly in the vineyard and although the weather is usually warm and sunny the job itself is physical and definitely not what most of them are used to. Added to that, they spend a good deal of their time in company of our delightful employee Dominique (the one who knows just about every trade under the sun including wallpapering - see blog post 'Winter Works') and whose grasp of 'American', although improving over the years, is still rudimentary. I'm not exactly certain who learns the most ! It takes a good sense of humour and a lot of perseverance to get through to the end of the month still smiling and this year's student Darcie Gorsuch from Cincinnati, did brilliantly.
Here she is (still smiling) with Louisa on the day she left.
Henry Winsby from Lancashire followed Louisa in August and his quiet, smiling and efficient manner was appreciated by everyone. I think we increased his knowledge of Bordeaux wines one hundred fold and when things were a little quieter in October he even leant a welcome hand in the vineyard and the winery !
To complete our international line-up for 2015, a friend and graduate of Pierre's university in Toulouse joined us as cellar-hand. We knew JB (Jean-Baptiste) Bancarel a little bit before he came to stay and he lived up to his reputation as a delightful, caring and hard-working young man. He added the missing French touch to the team and being an 'Aveyronais' we were treated to specialities such as Roquefort and Aligot ( a pureed potato and cheese affair which requires concentration and arm power to prepare properly). He will also be remembered for his bread consumption - I'd forgotten the French eat baguette even with rice, pasta and French fries !!
Wilfrid, JB and Henry enjoying the roquefort and JB and Henry in the winery pressing - looks slightly like Henry has just sprayed JB from head to foot !
And he did smile a lot !
We wish them all the very best in their future careers and hope that we might see them again in 2016 and reminisce over a glass of wine and a slice of cheese ( or a slice of cake!)