It’s still October, it’s still harvest season, and I’m still finding pieces of my trip to Alsace to remember and relive. To refresh readers’ memories, I spent a few weeks last October harvesting at Sipp Mack, a family owned and operated winery in the northeast corner of France. Here are more stories from the vineyard.
October 2, 2012
The dining room is a warm shade of deep walnut with accents of toasted things: wood, bread, sugar, fruit. Everything a little caramelized. Everything warm.
In the early morning before dawn, the group is comprised of seven people, ranging from about 30 to 70, and none of them speak English. “Café?” they ask. This I understand. I sit with my cup as each takes turns gesturing at various foodstuffs on the table: bread, all sorts, sliced and piled in large plastic grocery bag, butter, Nutella, assorted marmalades. We begin. Even here, in the subdued glow of a few yellow lights, there is laughter.
The fields are much wetter and much colder in the morning and we arrive just as the sun is up. Distributing ourselves down each row, pairing off and standing on either side, we pick along the vines looking for hiding little morsels, filling buckets and yelling “un seau” when we need a new one. Mostly I am wracked with self-consciousness regarding my Americanness, so I position the bucket to strategically get the attention of somebody who will be needing un seau around the same time I will, and they say “deux seau” instead. We finish (I never realize we’re done until there isn’t anymore vine to clip…the process is so strategically calculated and easy to lose one’s self in) and we hop in the vans and go again.
Invariably, somebody asks for music, and almost invariably it’s a forgotten American pop song from about 28 years ago, or a contemporary French song that sounds strikingly similar. There is singing and scolding.