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Jean-Michel Peers | all galleries >> GIVERNY en images et GIVERNY AUTREFOIS >> Giverny in days gone by > Vineyards in Giverny
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Vineyards in Giverny

Vineyards in Giverny


Text by André Buffet and map of plots by André Picard.
Translation by Katherine Bourguignon
Photography and layout by Jean-Michel Peers
Postcards from the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Photo of Mr. Robert Prévost, Falc’hon-Prévost Family
_________________________





GIVERNY, LAND OF VINEYARDS!

It was true until the beginning of the 20th century, when vineyards gave up their place little by
little to new, more profitable crops. It was not wild vines, but a supervised and controlled
production, as in all wine-producing areas. The procedures, declarations, formalities were the
same as throughout France. And so each year, the period of the grape harvest was determined
according to the following process verified by the Prefectural services: prior to the harvest
period, the town council appointed a committee in charge of evaluating the degree of maturity of
the grapes. According to the conclusions of the committee, the town council would deliberate so as
to “start the proceedings of the harvest” and to set its duration.

The wine produced was called “cailloutin” probably in relation to the nature of the land.
During this period, there was a certain rivalry with Limetz and Bennecourt, also producers,
a rivalry that was expressed especially in a decision by the town council of Giverny,
concerning its opinion on the opportunity to build a bridge to Limetz (1843 to 1878!),
which, Giverny felt would facilitate the distribution of the wine produced by
these other villages to the detriment of its own. (A. Picard)

The Dictionnaire Historique des Communes de l’Eure by Charpillon and Caresme noted for the years
1860-1870 a vineyard with a surface close to 4 hectares although the cadastral map of Giverny
noted 17 hectares of vineyards out of 60 hectares of farmable hillside.






In this panoramic view of the Bout de Giverny from 1910, one can see the sizable section of
vineyard plots located on either side of “La Grande Roulière”. On September 22, 1833, the
town council deliberated on setting the date for the grape harvest, then opened the
proceedings for the harvest. This ritual occurred every year until about 1910.

The TOWN COUNCIL of GIVERNY, under the presidency of Mr. Rozé, Mayor:
(written in this way in the text)
“The Year 1833, Sunday twenty second day of the month of September, the Town Council and the
inhabitants being united exceptionally by the Mayor of the Village of Giverny, Canton of Ecos,
Department of the Eure, by virtue of Article 2 of the law of September 6, 1791, for the opening
of the proceedings of the grape harvest where were present Pierre-Louis Saintare, Louis Leroux,
Pierre Leroux, François Lefort, Jean-Baptiste Le Danois, Nicolas le Roux, Nicolas Barault,
Charles Dubocq and Charles Saintare, winegrowers living in this village, the mayor having
asked the assembly if the grapes were mature enough to allow for the start very shortly
of the grape harvest, the collected votes were examined to set the day for Monday September 30,
the grape harvest will begin after sunrise and will end as soon as the sun sets; during its
duration, the assembly requested that dogs be forbidden in the vineyards during the grape harvest.
As a result, there will be drawn up a written record against which whosoever “illegible” and let them ramble.”
It is sometimes indicated that the gleaning may not occur until ten days after the opening of the
grape harvest; in this text, neither the duration of the grape harvest is indicated, nor the
possibility of gleaning.



Above the Chemin des Fontaines, the hillside today is spotted with abundant, thorny vegetation.
Beneath the Chemin des Vignettes, a few years ago, one could still spot a few gardening
enthusiasts cultivating a vegetable garden. Live-stock farming is practically nonexistent.



A few traces of vines still extend their long shoots in the inextricable tracery of blackberry
bushes. The wines of Giverny were held in high esteem by the French Court.
French plants suffered the attack of phylloxera as early as 1865. It was necessary to tear up
the vines and replace them with grafts made from American plants, more resistant to this illness.
Unfortunately, these new grafts had difficulty adapting to the earth and climate of Giverny.
The register of declaration of the harvest mentions during the 1970s the production
of 50 to 80 liters a year. (Newspaper “Le Démocrate” October 30, 1991).
_________________________


THE LAST WINEGROWER OF GIVERY





Until 2009 Mr. Robert Prévost harvested and made wine with the grapes
produced by the vines in his garden, rue Claude Monet.




Numerous “Baco noir” vines, leaning against a fence, produced
for Mr. Robert Prévost between 300 and 400 bottles of red wine depending on whether it was a
good or bad year. It is interesting to note that in the midst of the flowers in his garden
one could also find fishing vine. This fruit tree, very sensitive to powdery mildew, is
often planted in vineyards, because it warns the winegrower of an immenent attack of mildew
on the bunches of grapes. An amateur’s vineyard, certainly, but with the know-how of professional winegrowers.





Paul Pont, father-in-law of Robert Prévost and former town councilman, already used the wine-press
pictured above, installed under the house. He had purchased it in Vernon, during the period
when viticulture was still in its heyday in Giverny. A rustic installation, a harsh
variety of grape, but surely a great pleasure to produce his wine as in the past.



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