Sunday, February 23, 2014

Wildlife In A Vineyard Without Poison

Last September I was in Grusse in the southeastern corner of the Jura, not much more than 40 miles from Geneva International Airport. The tiny commune inhabited by less than 200 people is easily lost in the map. There my friends and I visited two of the most unlikely inhabitants Kenjiro Kagami and his wife, Mayumi, of Domaine des Miroirs. Since being transplanted in this remote village about six years ago, Kenji has been working on a small vineyard he purchased that is situated up on a steep hill overlooking the town. For many years the previous owner had poisoned the soil with chemicals from herbicides and fertilizers. Kenji has been undoing the damage all by himself these past years. It's backbreaking work and, frankly, I don't know how he does it. But he buzzes along and the results are almost miraculous.

Above is a neighbor's vineyard adjacent to Kenji's vineyard separated only by the narrow trail that runs up the hill. This is how his vineyard looked when he started. There is hardly any vegetation and almost nothing else aside from the vines thrives.

 And above is the vineyard of de Miroirs today...

Shaggy mane mushrooms (coprin chevelu) sprout between rows of vines.

Cover crops are allowed to grow thick and lush, and the variety is astonishing.

Wildflowers in assorted colors stand out amidst the greenery. The vineyard is never boring to gaze at.

We brought back our catch of the day from the vineyard, a few shaggy manes. None of us have tasted this mushroom before but Kenji assured us that they're good and edible.

Back at the gîte, my friend, a renaissance guy, who's not only a toji, but a collector of fine pottery and an excellent cook. He commanded the kitchen and sauteed the sliced shaggy manes, which, interestingly, turned inky.

Back in the cellar before we left, Kenji took a botttle of his latest unreleased Chardonnay, slapped on a label and gave it to us to enjoy with the mushrooms. It made for a memorable pairing at the gîte.

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