The third day of class, June 15th was a field trip out into the countryside surrounding Cluny, known as the "Clunysois". So, in the morning after some baguette, jam and coffee we hopped on our "Voyage Clunysois" bus and rode through the countryside. I can't begin to describe how beautiful the countryside was in words so instead I'll just put some pictures that I took at the end of this post. The wine country here with its large expanses of vineyards, old chateaux and countryside homes is beautiful beyond any description that I could give it. I hope that at some point in your life you can make it out here because just looking through the pictures that I took makes me want to stay here forever.
One landmark we visited in the Clunysois, La Roche De Solutre, is a large rock formation in the middle of the countryside with an amazing view. I took a video from up there that shows just a couple seconds of the wonderful view we had (it's at the bottom of this post after the pictures) and I'll let you judge for yourself how it was. After that scenic stop we were off to the "Domaine Perraud", a vineyard and winery close by. Many of the wineries here are named "Domaine x, y, z" as domaine translates to "estate" in English. The winery itself was of a good size and was designed in such a way that you could tell that these people knew what they were doing. According to the owner, the winery was a small operation by French standards, but to me it seemed very respectable.
Since I've worked at a winery since I was 12 or 13 I recognized most of the equipment in the winery, and it was definitely quality stuff. Equipment that would easily cost upwards of $10,000 in New Jersey was only 4000 euro according to the owner, which is roughly $5,700. The equipment is much cheaper here because most of it is manufactured in Europe, and obviously the price increases drastically if you have to ship a huge metal tank overseas. But, the equipment wasn't the only thing that impressed me at this winery. There were several things in use there that I had never even seen before and was very interested in the roles that they played. The operation at Domaine Perraud was definitely one created to optimally produce good wine and I even learned a thing or two there that I hope we can use at my family's winery.
After our visit, we had a picnic next to a lake in the vineyards of Domaine Perraud. The day before we collectively bought an assortment of breads, meats, cheeses, fruits and desserts and brought them with us on our trip. It's a much cheaper way of eating, and definitely just as good as you can get at a restaurant if not better. We all ate very well, and I'd say it was the best picnic I've ever had, hands down. The view that we had at our picnic site was amazing and the food stuffs that we all bought were delicious. I even got to talk to an older frenchman who was fishing at the lake at the time and we talked about fishing in the states for a short time, but eventually I ran out of vocab words and had to say goodbye.
Next up was a trip to a goat farm in the Clunysois that produced fresh goat cheeses from their own goats. This farm was operated by just two people, a husband and wife of about 50 or 60 years of age, but still full of energy. We saw the goats and the milking operation and then went in to see the cheese production area, which was small, but still producing a relatively large amount of cheese for its size. And then, the fun part, the cheese tasting! We were served the same cheese of different ages, 24 hours old, 48 hours old, and several days old accompanied with a white wine of the region, which is customary for goat cheese tastings. I don't have to tell you that the cheeses were all superb, and after we were all incredibly stuffed. By this point we were all starting to feel the fatigue of all this venturing through the French countryside and we were very thankful to be on our way home, but no need to pity us, hahah.
On the way back to Cluny we saw several enormous chateaux that were gorgeous and with the picturesque countryside in the background it was like something from a post card. But then again, most of the things I've seen on this trip could have easily been post cards. So, I guess it was just another normal day in the Clunysois, but it was an extraordinary day for a Jersey farm boy.