Planter des Vignes + photos of our growing vineyard!
arrosage: hand-watering the vineyard, this week's visitors and Paint in Provence!

Tirer sa reverence & Jean-Marc's quiet tribute

Jean-Marc watering his young vines at Mas des Brun (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc, watering 5,600 baby vines by hand. When I posted this picture on my Facebook, Jeanne Asakura wrote: Such a peaceful scene. There's a reverence about it as well.

Jeanne, your words couldn't be more true. Read on in today's story...

Tirer sa révérence

    : to go, to pass away


Beautifully renovated and decorated home in the Luberon. 4 bedrooms and a study with a sofa bed, each with ensuite (full) bath. This villa comfortably sleeps 7-9 adults.

AUDIO FILE: (please check back later, all the Francophones in the house are occupied and unable to record at the moment!) Meantime, improve your French pronunciation with Exercises in French phonetics. Click here.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

On Monday, during a pause from planting his baby vines, Jean-Marc looked over at me and said: Aujourd'hui ça fait 30 ans que mon père est décédé. (Today marks the 30th anniversary of my father's death.)

My mind rushed back in time, to a 17-year-old boy who grew up overnight, to become tuteur, or legal guardian, of his small family....

       Tuteurs holding up our one-year-old vines

Searching for comforting words, I took my husband in my arms, but it was he who volunteered the next thought.... 

Jean-Marc watering the new vines (c) Kristin Espinasse

Je suis content de planter aujourd'hui. I am happy to be planting this vineyard today.


Post note: nowadays giant tractors exist for the task of drilling, planting, and even watering baby vines via a three-in-one process. Wheras the planting machines pour 5 liters of water per plant, Jean-Marc is giving each baby 2 liters. Yesterday, he managed to water 600 vines.  Today several hundred more--always with the same serene look on his face, and such a change from his usual hectic pace.

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This hillside vineyard has many restanques, or stone walls. Some of them are crumbling, now, owing to vegetation or heavy rains. On the ground, you see the little red wax tops of our newly-planted mourvedre, cinsault, and ugni blanc vines. The baby vines are no bigger than the stem of a wine glass, and in three years they'll fill one!

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Photo notes: in one of the pictures above, you can hardly see the one-year-old vines among the "weeds." Did you know that one way to tell whether a vineyard is using chemicals or not is the absense of weeds? Jean-Marc regularly weeds by hand, leaving many of the mauvaises herbes in place. They protect the soil and keep insect life going.

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A planter's hands. Look at that tan!

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


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Carolyn R Chase

I understand those moments. Thanks for sharing.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

The reflective top photo reminds me of the advice of Thich Nhat Hanh who tells us to do a task for the doing, not to get it over with and behind us; in this way nearly everything we do can become a meditation. Thoroughly enjoyed this post (as I do all of them, even when I don't comment).

Priscilla Fleming Vayda

Am enjoying all the "planting" tales and photos. What dedication to an ancient art. Happy watering Jean-Marc! and keep the good writing and pictures coming, Kristin.
Priscilla in La Nouvelle Orleans

Barb Friedman

What a blessing to be able to work in nature to produce something beautiful and delicious. You are both so lucky to live and do what you do, although I know it is hard work. Your photos are magnificent, Kristin. You and your husband certainly complement one another with your talents.

Marie La Salle

Rien ne change. Il y a deux millenia que Jesus en racontant un parabole dit: "Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' I never thought about the weeds protecting the soil while the plants mature. I guess I have pulled my last weed. New philosophy!

Beth Fiacco

Dear Kristin,
Again, you touched my heart by sharing Jean-Marc's tender heart and the memory of his father's passing. Praying for God's favor and prosperity over your vineyard, and on the hands of Jean-Marc as he takes delight in what he was born to do. May Jean-Marc continue in his learning and understanding of this business and be blessed with many helping hands! xoxo

Sherry in Kentucky

How beautiful on so many levels. This vineyard and the wine that it will produce will always have a very special meaning.


Kristin, you and Jean-Marc are such a beautiful couple! I love the synergy between you, the reverence in which you hold each other. You truly understand each other, and that is something so precious!

daphne mackay

Such a lovely way to remember Jean Marc's father; a celebration of his life with new life and new beginnings.....


How wonderful to possess the passion to plant and water those baby vines by hand. That contact with Mother Earth is to be experienced with reverence. I congratulate Jean Marc and your whole family for its love for the "terroir".

Chris Allin

Planting day...a doubly significant day. Time spent watering so many baby vines offers an opportunity for thoughtful contemplation, enjoying the moment, yielding to serenity. Happy nurturing, Jean-Marc. And thank you, Kristi, for capturing the beauty of this special time and sharing it with us.

Joyce Hickey

I look forward to seeing the baby vines grow and I hope the wine is exceptional.

I made the yogurt cake a couple of days ago and it was delicious and so easy to make. Thank you so much for the recipe. Joyce, Boise, Idaho

Susan Burman

This was a touching and beautiful posting, but if you plan to use it elsewhere, I didn't find the French word for 'support' unless it is in the caption of the support of the vines, 'tuteurs.' Is this correct?
I'm an editor at heart. Love from a former Arizonian now in Oregon.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for your warm support. So touched!
Susan,  glad you brought it up. The subject line of todays email was changed twice, and it does not match the word of the day. I realized this too late.
Katia, we are FAR from perfect or harmonious as a couple ,  and we often joke
that we are each others cross to bear!


Thank you, Kristin, for bringing a little bit of peace into my hectic day.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Your lovely lead photo really sets the stage for today's post, Kristi. And the moving lyrics from a favorite Quincy Jones song seem to fit as well:

"Everything must change
Nothin' stays the same
Everyone will change
No one stays the same

The young become the old
And mysteries do unfold
'Cause that's the way of time
Nothin' and no one goes unchanged

There are not many things in life
You can be sure of, except
Rain comes from the clouds
Sun lights up the sky
And hummin' birds do fly

Winter turns to spring
A wounded heart will heal
But never much too soon
Yes, everything must change

The young become the old
And mysteries do unfold
'Cause that's the way of time
Nothin' and no one goes unchanged..."

catharine ewart-touzot

what a lovely thing to be able to do on such an very fortunate your husband is to be able to do what he loves so, surrounded by what he loves so.

Fay Plauche' Butler

In my long life, I have never felt more at peace than I did at my grandmother's farm in Plaucheville, Louisiana. So, I understand Jean-Marc very well. It is to her front porch swing I return when I need comforting.

It was WWII and our main crop was cotton for military uniforms. Due to lack of field hands, we all had a turn at gingerly plucking the fluffy, white cotton balls from among the stickers and green leaves when the time came. We emptied the long sacks of cotton we dragged through the rows into waiting, horse drawn wagons that carted off our gleanings to the local cotton gin. For my day in the hot sun and all my labors, I earned a nickel. I was four years old.

To this day, however, no scene is more welcome than neat, red rows from which thick, green leaves wave and white cotton heads bow in the summer breeze.

Today, my own porch offers swings in emulation of MeMe's well worn, unpainted cypress front porch but, alas, my porch is not as quiet. From her porch swing, I could listen to and smell the rain that came up the curvy, gravel road quieting the rising dust. Unlike less fortunate city kids, I could feel the changes in temperature that heralded welcomed summer rain.

Winds driving the rain made the porch rockers move as though occupied and I would make up stories about who was sitting there rocking, drinking strong coffee and exchanging stories. ;o)

Fay Plauche' Butler

sophie day

There is nothing quite as rewarding as watering by hand. It is so peaceful and tranquil. This autumn I planted a new lawn which I watered by hand twice a day and loved every minute of it!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks,  Fay, that was beautiful!

edie schmidt


This is indeed a labor of love.
Looking forward to the continuing story.

Edie from Savannah

Julie Mautner

This was lovely, thanks for sharing. Good luck to all the baby vines! And bon courage to Jean-Marc!

June Baker

Dear Kristin
A truly lovely scene, planting and watering the vines by human hand, lovingly, gently, respectfully and with an air of sacredness. Blessings in abundance to you and your lovely family. There is a wonderful book about the secret life of plants and I can't help feel that the loving energy you bestow on each newly planted vine in that wonderful setting, and all the dedication . . . you will also reap plentifully.
I join with all your readers in saying how touched I was by this post which included the memory of Jean Marc's father.
Best wishes, June

Vance Anderson-Inks

Working in the soil soothes the soul, clears your mind, and helps you commune with those you love, whether here or not.


What a lovely post and what a beautiful thing for John-Marc to be doing on such an anniversary! There is indeed a deep sense of the sacred that is almost palpable in these photos and we are transported there in spirit. I am reminded of how much my now deceased father, a rice farmer in SW La., loved the "good earth." His was a creation-centered spirituality and I am so grateful that this was his legacy to me.

Bill Facker

Magic, Kristin, pure Magic. Laced into the fabric of this beautiful post is the subliminally powerful message which demonstrates clearly why your blog continues to resonate with us. Your deep love and respect for Jean-Marc and your children is truly the "binding factor". Magic, Kristin, pure Magic. Merci


Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Thanks for sharing this beautiful story! I think gardening provides a time for reflection. At least for me, when I am outside digging in the dirt, listening to the birds, the rustle of the wind through the trees, I just think about life and maybe Jean Marc has time to think and reflect as he is watering those baby vines! His father is looking down and smiling! I was thinking that he must have a really long hose to be able to reach all those vines!

Pat from Oregon

I especially like your story/posting today. Beautiful.

grace park

so beautiful mind and deed for his dad!
I can picture a seventeen boy's confusing yet keeping his stiff-upper-lip.
by the way, that's at least very comforting to say, to bear each other's cross.
always enjoying your story! thanks~


There's something about working the land, getting your hands dirty, planting the same things your ancestors did, that makes me feel connected to those ancestors, as connected as when you observe the same religious traditions as they did. There is little more satisfying watching a tiny seed or seedling you planted with your own two hands grow into something beautiful and of course, delicious! I am very happy you are sharing your vineyard planting stories and wish you lots of luck!

Richard Swarb


Jean-Marc marking 30 years of his father's passing reminded me of my father's passing 2 years ago to cancer. Someone at the funeral said it is like being orphaned, so true, even for me at age 54.

To see the wonderful contrast of planting for the future indeed is heartwarming. Thank you.


The bittersweet memories of the passing of our parents live on.... Bringing a vine to life on this day is healing for sure.

Tirer sa révérence also means to give up (gracefully), as in Jean Sablon's lovely song where he goes roaming to heal his heart.

To me, a bittersweet memory of my childhood and faraway birthplace.


Planting - what an optimistic activity. Such a wonderful harvest - grapes for wine!!!! I plant flowers in pots - the harvest is color for the house. JM Papa would be very proud of him. Thanks for writing.


Our dear Kristi,
You are truly gifted and your words have once again wrapped themselves around our hearts.
Thank you for sharing this with us.
Natalia XO

Lisa Smith

Beautiful post, complemented by your wonderful photography Kristi. Mindfulness meditation in action for Jean-Marc, as he goes about tending his new babies, and his memories. Hugs to you both. xx

George Watson

I understand exactly what Jean-Marc is feeling.

We live in Houston, and too often we get wrapped up in our busy life. There is just not enough time to get everything done.

But every once in awhile, I need a change of pace. And so I go out to our farm, about an hour west of town. Just pastureland, not raising anything but dogs and children (my son is now 22). Sometimes I just drive around on the tractor, cutting the grass, piling brush, collecting dead branches off the trees.

Quelquefois, je parle à Dieu. Et quelquefois, je écoute.

Chris Allin

To George Watson...a beautiful reverie that touches the heart. How fortunate you are to be able to find such peace~

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, George, for sharing this peaceful example. So very inspiring. 

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

I am curious about usage.
A couple of on-line French to English dictionaries say that when translated to English mean to step down from a position, end a career, rather than to die. Not a synomyn for mourir or décéder. Are those dictionaries off in the sense of the French phrase? Google translate uses 'bow out' as the English version. Is this a regional variation is French?
One is
The other is, but switched to francais-anglais.

That is tough to lose one's father so young. It is a sweet story of how he has lived since then, and tends new vines on such an anniversary.

Jean-Marc Espinasse

THANK YOU ALL for the sweet and thoughtful message. When I realized that the Universe picked this special day for bringing life to those baby vines, it actually put a smile on my face which might means that my grief is finally over...


it is so moving that jean-marc should plant on his father's anniversary. getting to watch the development of your vineyard from the start is a privilege. thank you, kristie, for sharing this.

Patricia Sands

Touching and beautifully written, as always, Kristin. I sent you an email that may be bogged down in your overflowing mailbox, so I will repeat it here. I have purchased some copies of your books and will be offering them as give-aways to wonderful Francophiles who subscribe to my newsletter. I thought you would like to know. They will be delighted!
May the vines thrive! Amitiés!

Natalie Shaby

Your story today touched my heart. I always enjoyed planting a garden with my father in Canada. He passed a year ago. I'm looking forward to planting again this spring in his memory:) Thank you for sharing JM's beautiful thought!
Natalie Shaby Manhattan Beach, Ca


Kristen, God bless Chief Grape for doing his grapes organically. Now that is a wine i will want to drink -- Yeah team! One thing i want to mention (he probably knows this already) but the Euphorbia (depending on species) is an allelopathic plant which means it basically poisons the soil around it in order to do a hostile "take over" so to speak of all other plants. What the eco-managers and organic growers/environmentalists here in Denver, CO area do often is to hire a bunch of sheep/goats to devour it. Great solutions but they might like baby grape vines as well :-) what do they do in France? I would love to know. . .

Julia ~ Falling Off Bicycles


Cynthia P. Lewis

Lucky indeed is the person who lives close to the earth and loves all that it has to offer. Jean-Marc received a special kind of solace from the earth as he planted the baby vines on the anniversary of his father's death, The pictures and your words convey it all with the final picture of Jean-Marc's strong hands resting on the weathered outdoor wooden table seeming to act as a summery. Thank you for sharing this beautiful and meaningful tribute. Best wishes.

Roger Anderson

Kristen, I learned so much from these photos and the personal sharing you did about your hard-working husband, Jean-Marc. Thank you.


Kristi. I am loving your sharing the vine/wine process from scratch ! And the fact that it's been done by hand and with so much consideration and love of the land makes it all so special. Each little vine has been tended to with love and respect is bound to be a very special wine indeed!


The only thing that tops your lovely stories is when someone adds another marvelous memory, like Fay's recollections of picking cotton and posrch swings.

You mentioned that there are machines to plant the vines. Was the hand planting done because of the location amid the olive trees?


*porch swings.

Oh, if I could only type as well as I can really spell!

Augusta Elmwood

Dear Kristin, I enjoyed today's post on so many levels. Jeanne is right about the photo. You have a good eye for composition. I also love the photo of the hands. What a story they tell. You can see the love of the soil and the vines in them.


Thank you, Kristin.
Thank you, Jean-Marc.
Thank you, Fay.
I find that it is impossible to be depressed while gardening. Exhausted, inspired, frustrated, impatient, happy, and many other things, but always in awe.


So touching and may of the commenters have such lovely stories to add, but I think Fay's description was especially poignant.

Carolyn Dahm

Thank you for sharing this with us....

And to Jean-Marc,
I lost my Mom in my twenties so I understand that sadness. But I love the thought that your Father was with you during those peaceful hours-and so proud-as you watered your vines together. Blessings to all of you and those beautiful vines. Thank you for sharing...


The photo is special not only because of the artistic arrangement of the colors, but because of the subject. It is very special in this modern age to see a man fulfill his dreams, to have the sense to know it, and to enjoy the moment. This is what life is all about- in a snapshot!
Hang this in your house as a reminder of all your blessings...

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