So we made plans to put little paper bags around the bunches after we'd done the pruning/thinning in 2013. It didn't happen (any of it). There are now far too many (small) grapes, and the birds aren't interested. They have a slightly musky taste (the grapes, not the birds), so I'm thinking they are a wine grape rather than a table grape. I need to check. Sometimes I sense a little flurry of bird activity when I open up the back door early in the morning, but otherwise the grapes are untouched. Eventually I will both manage/prune and use the grapes. A fine day!
Does anyone out there have any ideas for French grape cultivars that I might plant in the future? I find the whole subject massively confusing, but will doubtless eventually settle to the hard work involved in the choice. I've already started, with preference given to the Burgundy reds & whites and the Pinot Gris of Alsace (since both Burgundy and Alsace are near neighbours). This is probably what we should do with the frightening slope of the vegetable garden - but where on earth will I grow my spinach, broccoli, lettuce, etc.?
Perhaps my first step should be a friend in the village who knows all about what was cultivated at a time when Chatillon produced its own wine in a modest kind of way. Meanwhile, Peacock butterflies seem to cluster around them in large numbers - for the sheer sweetness of the fruits that are now splitting? Another plant they like is Bidens ferulifolia.
I had the seed from the Hardy Plant Society seed list, but it's been on my favourites list since 1986 when I met it as a bedding plant at Kew. Strangely enough I've no experience of it self-seeding to the extent that it is making itself happy here. And very welcome in a new garden for filling massive late summer gaps. Not just gaps in borders, but also in a strange kind of concrete structure on the Rose Walk level. I've a horrible feeling that if I'd been here seven years ago, someone might have left me the legacy of the large greenhouse I now crave with all my heart!