Interrogated in 2002 for the preparation of a book about the contemporary history of Lugny, Joseph told the work of the vine as he knew it before the war, during times when, because the agricultural mechanization was not as developed as later, the vine stocks were exclusively cultivated by hand.
“Our main job was of course that of the vine. Everything started at the end of the year, not long after the picking, with the ridging, operation consisting of covering the base of the vine stocks with dirt, in order to protect them from freezing. Then, came the trimming, which would occupy a good part of the winter, and the sarmentage, which is removing the trimmed vine branches left on the floor, to put them aside and burn them. After that, we would prepare the vine for folding, by setting up the wires and replacing stakes where needed. Following this would be the folding itself, which had to be done before the vine grew. Afterwards, we had to do the “débutage”, which consists of undoing the ridging since the weather would have warmed up by then. The time of the pruning had come, where we’d remove every bud that grew from the bottom part of the vine stocks in order to give them some strength back. We would then raise the branches from the upper part, by attaching them together with wicker wires prepared during winter evenings, and proceed to trim any branch too small to be attached or tall enough to go beyond the other ones. Only afterwards could the harvest begin, generally between the 10th and the 15th of September, and it would last about a whole month.
Independently from all these tasks, there had to sulphate the vine rows every ten days – about six to eight spraying a year, since one would stop in the end of July. Before the war, the interline sulphate appeared, which, dragged by a horse, enabled the winemaker to spray two rows mechanically. My father soon bought one, easing our task!
“The harvest, because it rewards the winemaker for a whole year of efforts, had a special place on the agricultural calendar. The way to proceed never changed: once their bucket was full of grapes, the harvesters would empty them in the hood carried by one of the harvesters, who would themselves empty their hood once full into baths carried by chariots to the shared cellar. The harvest would end with the renowned “r’vole”, a traditional dinner enhanced for the occasion, during which the family and the harvesters would party, with waffles and white wine. The harvest would always be a medium of a population mix. Indeed, the harvesters were often foreigners – coming from other regions – and more than once, a young lad would marry a pretty harvester come from afar! In our winery, the harvesters were often around eight, so with the members of my family, about fifteen people working for the harvest.
“During the 3 to 4 weeks that the harvest would last, Lugny experienced an unusual bustle; once the evening started, the harvesters would hang out on the roads and meet up in cafes.” (translated from “Lugny, mémoire de pierres, mémoire d’hommes”, written by Frédéric Lafarge and Paulette Berthaud and published in 2004 by Lugny’s communal library.)