Sunday, September 4, 2011

Our New Ville

This is what's growing on a fence across the street from our house... 

Our new town, Thomery (pop. 3,300) has had a history in making a very specific grape, but not by using fences... Viticulturists here have produced "Chasselas of Thomery" table grapes by using an age-old technique: growing them on high walls. After harvesting, the grapes are placed in water with a piece of charcoal inside specially designed bottles. The bottles are stored for several months in wine cellars or caves that have been built inside Thomery houses. (We've got a wine cellar in our new house, but it's doubtful ours was ever used for this because the house dates to 1971.)

Using this technique, viticulturists could sell grapes after the Christmas season even through Easter. This method was extremely popular from the 19th century to World War II, and found success among wealthy Parisians and even the Russian Csar court. Production peaked in the 1920s when more than 800 tons of grapes a year were cultured using 220 miles of walls. These walls are still in existence today in Thomery and were classified in 1993 as historical monuments.

Only a few Thomery residents are still producing such grapes for local consumption. I'll let you know if and when we get to try some!

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