Posted: 14 Sep 2010 04:48 AM PDT
In Champagne many of the large champagne houses have a building (or often several) dotted around the region and it's from these buildings that the harvest is organised.
They're called Vendangeoirs.
In day gone by the teams of pickers would be housed and fed here and it's here where the giant party at the end of the harvest would be held.
These days the health and safety rules are so strict that it's just not economical for the champagne houses to upgrade the old vandangeoirs to the standards required by law to accommodate the harvesters, so most pickers live in caravans or find other places to bed down.
These days the vandangeoirs are where the equipment is kept, where the picking teams may receive their instructions for the day and, if there's a press in the vendangeoir, this is where the grapes are brought from the vineyard to be pressed.
So you can tell that they are important places, if only for a few weeks of the year.
You might think therefore that there would be plenty of hussle and bustle in the vendangeoirs in the run up to the harvest: cleaning, reparing, preparing, planning and making everything ship shape.
Well, it seems that some take a more laid back approach than others as you'll see from the pictures below.
Before I go any further I must say that both of the two famous houses featured in the pictures make top quality champagne and I wouldn't want to insult either of them , but I couldn't help but be amused by the contrast.
First the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vendangeoir at Verzy.
All in all, clearly ready for action.
Contrast this approach with the vendangeoir of Louis Roederer, also in Verzy and only about 200 yards from the VCP establishment.
But the gates are shut and inside all is quiet; nothing seems to be happening.
It's reasuring to note, however, they have the essentials covered: the van parked in the courtyard is a Pizza Delivery van.
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