Days of wine and onions

Vendange
Of course I knew that vendange was coming, the season of grape-harvesting. If nothing else, new signs had begun to appear on the local roads, warning drivers to be extra alert. Nonetheless, I was unprepared for the number and variety of grape-harvesting trucks tooling down the road. Some of the trucks are small, the ones that putter along at the pace of a horse-drawn cart, carrying a payload of grapes on their way to becoming wine. Those aren’t the trucks that startled me.

I was driving along one day, minding my own business, when around the bend came a giant beast of machinery. It was tall, oddly shaped, and slightly menacing. It was moving slowly and ever so deliberately, with focus and purpose. I kid you not, I completely expected to see Jeff Goldblum (Buckaroo Banzai) jump out of the cab. These are the grape harvesting machines, and they’re shaped the way they are so that they can move down a row of vines and harvest grapes from both sides.

Vendanges
Views of the back and front of the same grape harvester. The beast moves slowly enough that after I passed it, I had enough time to find a place to pull off the road and get out of the car with my camera. Below right, one of many signs warning drivers to be on the alert for harvesting machinery on the road.

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