Friday July 3rd,
Today I have a weeks worth of work in here at the Chateau Saint Hilaire Winery where I have been living with my host family, the Uijttewaal’s. They have all been so kind to be this past week, taking me in and making me feel so welcomed in their home. On Monday after work I went to a really fancy winery called Mouton Ruthschild, which was about a half hour drive from home. Elise, my host sister, and I met up with three other students from Purpan whom are living and interning in the Bordeaux wine region as well. It was really neat getting to spend some time with three French students and see how they all interact with each other. I was greeted with a kiss to each cheek from each of the French students. In class back in Purpan they made us practice this and I now understand why, it can be surprising when you don’t see it coming. It’s also a good idea to take off your sunglasses; the first time I did this I had mine on and they awkwardly hit the other person’s face. Just a little tip if you plan on traveling around France any time soon.
The winery we went to was so grand, everything was very expensive and well manicured. Every last detail was perfect, they’re parking lots were even nice pebbles with stone lines laid out for the parking spots. The insides of the cellars and buildings were decorated and evenly modeled between traditional and modern wine making. In French wine there is a tier system that was started way back in French history to rank the different top wineries based on their mansion, price, and quality. The Mouton Rothschild winery is one of the top tiers and it was so interesting to experience a winery like that. One perk was that since we were five student’s who sought out to see their winery, they gave us a wine tasting of a 200 euro bottle of wine for free.
Throughout this past week I have spent a lot of time in the vineyards raising vines. I talked about this process some in my last post so I won’t touch on it too much but it has been easier for me to raise the vine wires as the week has gone by. My hands and back on the other hand are not as pleased, but it’s been a lot of fun learning a new trade in agriculture, and what better way than at the bottom where the whole process starts. The vineyards are not as I expected them to be here in France, when I first knew I would be interning in a winery I instantly thought of the winery and vineyard off of “Parent Trap”. Granted this is an American winery in a movie, but I was naive enough to think that this is what it would look like. But contrary to the movie the vineyards are all spread about around the countryside of Queyrac. The winery’s cellar and tanks are all still at the house along with the room for wine tasting and tours. It’s really neat to drive around and have Adrien point out all of the different vineyards that are theirs.
When I am out in the vines I am working with a group varying from 4-6 French men and women. They have all been so sweet to me this first week by helping me in the vines if I fall a little behind on my row or bringing extra crackers and French cookies for me to snack on when we take a water break. The workers only speak French and since my French is rather poor its been very hard to try and communicate with them. Yesterday though, they started trying to talk to me more and ask questions; I guess they were getting curious about this random American girl that kept following them around. They figured out my age and asked about my family back home and if I had been “skyping” them, the word is the same in both languages so that made it easy. One of the women even brought an English-French dictionary to help us out with trying to talk to each other. In return I learned about their families and how old each of them were. The youngest was a man named Mathew who was 22, and the oldest was a women, Veronica, who was 50. Veronica knew a little bit of English and was amazing in the vines. I mean she was 50 years old and out hustling everyone else, to say the least I was impressed.
Besides the little bit when we try to talk to each other in the vines, I spend most of my time in silence. Which for me, that means a lot of thinking, praying, and singing country music in my head. I think if everything in school was put to the rhythm of a country song I would remember every last word! This trip really has been an amazing time for me to grow spiritually, being completely on my own I really have to trust that He has my back and will guide me through all of my endeavors. With so much time while working to look at the beauty at which He has created and while talking with God it’s hard not to grow in my faith.
Today I spent a little bit of time outside the vines and in the barn helping Adrien fill an order. A restaurant was picking up an order of 60 37.5 mL sized bottles of wine for at the restaurant to serve. Your typical wine bottle is around 70 mL so these are quite a bit smaller. Everything was done with the processing and bottling of the wines except for putting the medal caps on top of the corks and glass to complete the product so I grabbed the bottles of wine and placed the cap on them and handed them to Adrien to run them through the machine that seals them off. Then we boxed them up, stacked them on a pallet and wrapped them in plastic for shipping for when the semi came to pick them up. It’s fun seeing how the packaging is done in the wine industry and I really enjoyed working with the bottling.
Later this afternoon I rode Fabienne’s bike down the road to my host family’s rental home. It was so nice to get out and ride a bike again, it’s probably been two years since I’ve road a bike and I was a little rusty when I first hopped on but got the hang of it by the time I was out the drive way. A family is renting the rental home this weekend so their was a little bit of cleaning left to do in the house. Elise was already outside mowing when I got there, but hopped off and showed me what I could do to help get the house is shape for the family coming in. I started off by cleaning off the ceiling of all the spiders and their webs, then vacuumed the floors and wiped down the windows. I’m sure my mama would be proud of my cleaning if she was here to see it. While we were cleaning Elise and I had fun listening to some music and talking about some different things between the French and American cultures. Elise is studying this fall in Washington State so she’s practicing her English on me, which I don’t mind since I struggle with my French.
Later tonight the family that Elise interned with last summer is coming up to Queyrac to spend the weekend here. They are from Southern France and we will be going to Bordeaux on Sunday and will be spending the day Saturday showing them around the area which I am excited to see as well.
Fun Tid Bits:
~The English music that’s played on the radio is mostly songs I’ve never even heard of.
~A dirt road can make you feel at home even 4,000 miles away.
~”bomn” is used often in Southern France and it means “well”.
~Working in vines is a lot like working in pumpkins back home.
~It’s often high 90’s but without Indiana humidity it feels quite nice.
~My host home doesn’t have air conditioning or fans, yet it’s stays so cool throughout the days and nights because of its cement walls.
As I mentioned earlier, this weekend I will be adventuring around the Queyrac region and then visiting Bordeaux. Next week I will be working again with my host dad, Adrien. Then that weekend Adrien and Fabienne are taking Adrien’s mother to the Netherlands to see her family, so Elise and I are on our own to hold down the fort and take care of anything that happens at the house. Elise mentioned going to a beach that’s about an hour away that is really nice to meet up with one of her old roommates this weekend as well. I originally was planning to try and see Italy during a weekend while on my internship but it’s looking to be too far of a travel for only two days, guess that just means another trip to Europe in the future!
It’s been a great first week at my internship and I’m looking forward to the next three to come!