Cabanon in town of Piolenc (c) Kristin Espinasse
Ever feel like this? Unhinged, patched together, or just plain in pieces? Let me tell you... we got to sleep late last night after our latest mise-en-bouteilles. Read about last night's bottling, in the story column, below. Photo © Jules Greer (thanks Mom!)

                                          Cinéma Vérité

Cinéma Vérité will go cinematic this weekend! Don't miss our first court-métrage* titled "Blond". The filmmaker (13-year-old Max) filmed his mom in this slice-of-life one-minute episode (hey, you gotta start somewhere!), which takes place here at our vineyard. Along with the clip you'll hear Max's narrative en français. For more information about Cinéma Vérité, click here. (court métrage = short (film), "one-reeler").

scotcher (skoh-tchay) verb

    : to tape something

French Idioms & Expressions:
rester scotché = to be flabbergasted, stunned, gobsmacked
scotcher sur son siège = to be glued to one's seat
scotcher devant la télé = to be glued to the t.v.

Book: Tune Up Your French: Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French
Gourmet food: Sel Gris: Hand Harvested French Organic Sea Salt
Movie: Watch French classics: Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring
Beauty: skin care => Caudalie French *grapevine* therapy

A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

By 8:30 p.m. last night, many thanks to friends, we finished our latest mise-en-bouteilles in spite of the hiccups and the ad libs, and thanks to the sticky system invented along the way...

It all began with a missing truck: the rented camion d'embouteillage (a truck/machine-on-wheels that spits out bottles faster than a sergeant's drill). 

That is when I learned that just because you rent something in France doesn't mean it'll show up when and where you need it. Thank goodness for the flexibility of friends... Margaret and Peter arrived bright and early from the town of Cairanne... only to be sent home (no truck = no travail). They kindly offered to return in the afternoon and when they did we had to send them home again!

When the truck finally did appear, we realized it was missing much of the bottling gear! So, illico presto,* we began a series of slapped-together solutions including a system for taping the boxes shut.

Margaret (aka La Scotcheuse) was our system and it was her job to not get caught in all that sticky tape as she unfolded and constructed the boxes. Her husband, Peter, was at the end of the bottling line, sealing those boxes and sending them off after I filled them with wine.

Filling the boxes with wine was another matter entirely. It involved reaching up to the conveyer belt and plucking up the bottles. Imagine, for a minute, the activity of picking apples... only these were of the heavy, breakable, and fast-moving variety! It seemed ludicrous to have to reach up to grab the bottles, but given the missing equipment... this was the only way. 

As I twisted and reached to collect the full bottles, turning again to place them in their cases just behind me, I couldn't help but glare at the young man who came with the truck, one of the hired helpers. A cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, he puffed and puffed while putting the bottles into the boxes. The heavy trail of smoke wafted, en masse, into the lungs of the man at the end of the line: my friend Peter!

"Eh oh! Attention à la fumée!" I reminded him.  

And that is when I almost wished I'd scotched my own mouth shut.... For the young man narrowed his eyes, and abruptly left the production line... leaving me with one more "apple tree" to pick and its ever-moving, fast dropping fruit.

*     *     *

*French Vocabularyillico presto = right away

Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are always welcome and appreciated. Thank you for tchatching with us in the comments box!

PS: Our Domaine Rouge-Bleu Rosé, in spite of all the production line snares, was bottled with joy, laughter, and a great amount of care. Find out where to buy our wines.

PPS: If that's not enough to get you to buy a bottle... well, then, check out our dashing French wine maker, just below.

Dashing French Winemaker. (photo © Annabelle Storfer) 

Did you miss yesterday's word (crapaud)? See it here.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Congratulations - you came through again!! The luck of the Irish? Any Irish in you?

Evelyn Jackson

Wish I could buy your wine in Iowa...sigh! Okay, here's the question..does our scotch tape come from this little French word??? If so, the company should scratch the Scotch plaid, and give the French credit! I'm always amazed when I find connections.

Bill in St. Paul

Kristin, You see those sheds/shacks all over France in the same state as in your Mom's picture. I always wonder what's inside of them (there's got to be something interesting) and what were they used for in their "prime".

As for your smoking hired helper, I've noticed in France that the smokers seem to have great disdain for anybody who would criticize their smoking. I remember years ago riding up in the elevator in the Tour Montparnasse with my French colleague and a Frenchman gets on the elevator, smoking. My colleague pointed out the No Smoking sign, he just shruuged his shoulders and kept on puffing.

Emily M

Lovely vignette!

I am excited beyond words in every way to go to France for the first time, but dreading la fumee terribly. I have been spoiled by the recent surge of laws in the U.S.!

Thanks Kristin once again for your slice of life; I hope your Domaine Rouge-Bleu Rose led you to sound, peaceful sleep.


Reminded me of the time as a timid 23 year old that I gathered the courage to tell a carpet installer that I would reject the entire job if the ash dangling from his cigarette burned the new carpet no matter how neatly he could repair it. He stormed out for 30 minutes and then returned without a cigarette.

Sounds as if you also needed some Yankee ingenuity to get the job done. :)


Kristin- Your story makes me appreciate our Rouge-Bleu wine even more! While you and your dear friends were creatively bottling wine, I was serving Rouge-Bleu wine to my dear friends (visiting from Europe) with a large pot of Boeuf Bourguignon last evening. We all enjoyed the wine very much, along with laughter and spirited conversation! It was a wonderful evening celebrating many years of friendship! Imagine all the places and celebrations Rouge-Bleu wine is "invited to attend"..........

Merci Beaucoup!

Jeana Hurst

I prepared a bistro type lunch for my conversation French class and one of our group brought a bottle of Rouge-Bleu. We all enjoyed it very much, except our lovely French teacher, Anne, who is allergic to wine. All the Americans enjoyed it immensely!

Fred Caswell

Seams as if there are a few "batards" French words that, much to the anguish of those sword carrying uniformed Defenders of the French Language, have been adopted and modified from (horrors!) American words. Is Scotch Tape the illegitimate sire of "scotcher"?

Your story reminds me of how the author of A YEAR IN PROVENCE finally got some unfinished essential home remodeling completed by sending invitations to all the workers and their wives to a house party. Not wanting to have their wives see all the unfinished jobs marring the appearance of the hosts' house, a surge of men appeared very soon afterward and finished all their obligations so they could proudly show their mates their skills when party time arrived.

Fred Caswell

Seems I misspelled "seems"! Orthographe n'est pas mon fort.


Contratulations on your latest "mise-en-bouteilles" successfully completed with great spirit and innovative techniques! Look forward to sipping your wines as soon as I can find them. K, I recently discovered the hilarious good fun of short films using my digital camera. I used to annoy people by taking their I annoy them w/the film shorts! Ha! More and more ways to annoy people! Just kidding, of course. Good times.

Sandy Maberly

Ah, Kristi....what's the saying??? no gain.....except it is YOUR pain and OUR gain both with your delicious wine and your delectable stories! Yes, one does really appreciate the end product when there's a great story that goes along with it. Thanks for all your hard work....we enjoy the fruits of your labor everytime we open a bottle!


Haaaaaaahaa.... this poor little 'house' really made me laugh at first... then I saw it... the great blue cross shining out from the midst of the mess. Isn't that just like G-d? From the depths of our chaos, He is still able to shine forth, infuse us with His own strength, and cause us to be victorious-- bringing glory to His Name!
Bonne Paques à vous et toute la famille,
Rémi : )

Votre mari really *is* dishy! And it appears business is doing well. Wonderful.

Jennifer in OR

I love it! The hard work and ingenuity make the fruit all the sweeter! Jean-Marc looks dashing indeed. Joyeuses Pâques!!

Bruce T. Paddock

Fred, Evelyn -

I'm afraid you have it backwards. Here is the story of how Scotch brand cellophane tape got its name:

The French word "scotcher" is derived from the brand name, not the other way around.

Kristin, you have the patience of a saint. Had all that happened to me, I would have completely freaked out.


I love your site! I found you via Midlife Jobhunter (, and am so glad I did. I will return when I can peruse for awhile.


Fragrant Liar

Sorry, I hit the wrong key for the post above. I'm at Fragrant Liar

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