Monday, April 27, 2009

Camarguais Horses on the Plateau

Unless otherwise noted, all materials on this blog are (c) 2009 by Madeleine Vedel

When JP was a child the land surrounding his family's property was filled with vineyards. These are being progressively ripped out. Wine is a fickle source of income. For someone like JP who converted to organic 25 years' ago, the market is present and growing. But for those who simply brought their grapes to the local cooperative, to be added to their neighbors' to make simple vin de pays, the market has plummeted. The French are just not drinking like they used to, and the export market is highly competitive.

The government pays a "prime" to those willing to remove a portion of their vineyards, and so many are taking advantage of this, particularly those whose lands are not particularly apt for making quality wine. These lands are not as yet "constructible" or buildable. Those who would preserve the green spaces battle with those who would like to earn a pretty penny selling their land for development. So, in many cases they lie fallow.

Vauvert is the village furthest to the south in the AOC Costières de Nîmes, and it touches the northernmost tip of the Petite Camargue. The vintners are a strong presence, but so also are the manadiers, or ranchers who raise the white horses and the local bulls.

Out on the plateau between the Mas and town, for the time being, horses, bulls and olive orchards have replaced the vines.

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