Warm welcome to 2018. Recent vineyard research in Burgundy led me wondering about those oil drums on wheels that can be seen being pushed by vignerons up and down the rows of vines with fires being steadily stoked by the harvested vine clippings billowing out smoke... And so the more I looked, the more I noticed that there was a huge spread of these contraptions. I had only ever noticed them parked up but now (February) they were being deployed across every patch of vines I could see.
So I stopped; and asked questions - in halting French, obvs. - and discovered that these are a vital tool of the vigneron's trade. They are often hand built and used throughout the pruning and training season (from October to March) irrespective of the weather. As they are pushed up and down the rows of vines, the vine ash is gently deposited back into the ground to add nutrients for the forthcoming season, as well as providing an effective disposal and composting mechanism. I will leave it to those much wiser than me to explain the benefit these bonfire droppings provide to the hallowed ground...
And all this led me on to meet Sabine... Now here is one fabulous innovative lady vigneron (I am sure there are so many others just waiting to be met and questioned about all their je ne sais quoi techniques); she has built an electric beast that meanders through the vines at the pace she dictates with a swipe of her thumb, but that saves her poor old dos from the additional pains of reverse go-karting and all that pulling and pushing. Sabine told me she prunes 7ha over the winter months for the vigneron plots she looks after; 7 HECTARES - wow!! That equates to over 17 ACRES in UK or US speak.
There it would rest, if it weren't for the diversity of these contraptions and how they have wowed me. The deeper I delved, the more I discovered that the correct burner was a thing of great pride for the owner or user - as well as a practical tool that made their vineyard work easier and more efficient. And that set me wondering about acronyms. You don't see that many women working in the vineyards; being as rare as the proverbial hens' teeth, would VILF hit the spot? Or is that a burner too much in the post Harvey Weinstein era of #metoo?!