ban (bohn bahn*) noun, masculine
1. official notice, proclamation
2. (round of) applause
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Can you believe it has already been one year since our first grape harvest? Last week we began gearing up for the coming vendange* by rinsing out buckets, fixing the remorque,* and making way for the soon-to-be-arriving grapes....
Picking season is in the air and, just yesterday, our town received the official "ban," or proclamation to "Go Ahead and Get Your Grapes!" Not that any of the farmers will begin harvesting this week (you might say the grapes aren't quite "there yet").
But back to the "ban" as in "Ban des Vendanges" which dates back to the Middle Ages, when seigneurs, or lords, ruled the land. One of the seigneur's duties was to decide when the harvesting would begin, before issuing a public proclamation known as the "Ban des Vendanges". The "ban" itself was a notice
posted in the town's center for all to see and adhere to.
While any official rules regarding when to begin harvesting have since disappeared (along with those seigneurs...), the tradition recently returned to our area and, judging by yesterday's festivities, I wonder if it all isn't just an excuse... TO PARTY HARDY!
For this year's Ban, the streets of Sainte-Cécile-Les-Vignes came alive with music and dancing as those dressed in traditional Provençal attire marched through the village. The women, in jewel-toned quilted skirts and lace-trimmed bonnets, and the men, in their satin-trimmed vests and straw hats, led the way to the Great Grape: a representative selection of local raisins*. "La grappe" was then ceremonially carried to the Town Hall by four local vignerons* who followed in the steps of the carillonneur.*
Once the Provençal procession arrived at the town center, a modern day "Lord" (our mayor, Max Ivan) and company spoke--in French, and in Provençale. My favorite part was the reading of the famous proclamation. Normally, the task of announcing the Ban des Vendanges is given to the youngest vigneron. This year, the locals gave that honor to the newest winemaker....
I found myself climbing up (and into...) a local planter. Next, I tip-toed over the begonias for a better view of my husband, who stood center stage. I noticed how the sun shone right into Jean-Marc's face, blinding him from the crowd. He looked so handsome in just a T-shirt and slacks.
On closer look, I noticed how his right leg trembled. True, he had made it through one shaky year: his first as a farmer and winemaker. Any remaining jitters could be chalked up to aftershock and, like those ceremonial grapes, one great bunch of emotion.
So shake, baby, shake. To an outsider, those unsteady legs are the tremblings of fear; the rest of us recognize gratitude behind the tremor's veneer.
PS: That's Jean-Marc, who got carried off with the medieval maidens sometime after his speech. Click on this, or any of the images in this post, to enlarge the photo.
la vendange (f) = grape harvest; la remorque (f) = (tractor) trailer; le raisin
(m) = grape; le vigneron (la vigneronne) = wine grower; le carillonneur (m) = bell ringer
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Jean-Marc, speaking in our town's center (the text follows, in French ... translations welcome in the comments box. Thanks in advance!):
Ce jourd'hui trenteunieme d'Août 2008
Nous proclamons sur la place publique de Sainte Cécile les Vignes pour que nul le l'ignore, la décision du Comité des Vignerons au sujet des prochaines vendanges.
Les Maîtres Vignerons de Cairanne, Lagarde Paréol et Sainte Cécile les Vignes désignés par le Comité, ayant constaté l'état de maturité du raisin dans les diverses parcelles de leurs communes, ont fait part de leurs observations, estimant que le début de la récolte peut avoir lieu le 1 Septembre 2008.
Le Grand Maître de la Commanderie et les instances de la profession ayant été avisés, les Maîtres de chai de nos caves ayant donné leur accord, nous sollicitons de Messire Max Ivan, Premier Magistrat de notre commune qu'il lui plaise de prendre une arrêté fixant au 1 Septembre 2008 le premier jour de la récolte du raisin destiné à la production de nos vins.
Par ailleurs, nous demandons solennellement à tous ceux qui ont pouvoir ainsi qu'aux Vignerons ici présents de respecter et de faire respecter les usages établis par nos Pères afin que la qualité de nos vins soit bonne et meilleure si possible que celle des années antérieures.
Enfin, nous souhaitons de tout coeur à tous les Vignerons de généreuses vendanges.
Mille mercis, Shane, for this translation.
See the dancers and singers in this video thanks, Jean-Marc, for the video!):
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety