Of grapes & Men (last updated on Oct. 16, 2021)


A one-year feature story from May 2020 until June 2021

photography by matthieu alexandre

text by marjolaine edouard

"Of grapes & Men" has been awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2021 edition of the International Photography Awards.

If 2020 will remain marked in people's minds because of the Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 is an equally difficult year, if not worse, for French winegrowers, marked by spring frosts not seen since 1991. For some, it is even a dramatic year, between fire and frost, the 2020 vintage which was supposed to make us forget the crisis, will simply not exist.

(France, 2020) From spring confinement to the autumn harvest season : this feature story documents four organic viticulture estates of the famous “Coteaux-du-Layon” in the Val-de-Loire, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Four unique stories in the context threatening an unprecedented health, economic and social crisis.

"During the spring lockdown, we heard on the radio the call of farmers in need of labor."
Volunteers with unusual profiles responded to the call of a winegrower in need of labor. They are students or employees, their studies or their jobs are suspended due to lockdown.
"We volunteered and got hired as wine workers. That was the start of the reportage."
Harvest during the Covid-19 crisis

This photo essay intends to document this particular year 2020 following the rhythm of the vine's cycle between confinements. It also aims at highlighting the vine growing ancestral gestures since humans have always cultivated the vine.

In organic vineyards flowers and ladybugs are commons
Isn't there something reassuring in the fact that the Earth continues to provide food and drink, that is, grapes and wine, as our economy falters and is almost at a standstill ?
From novels by Steinbeck to songs by Springsteen... A history of workers.

The recent Covid crisis has raised awareness of our limits, of the limits of our economic and production system, and of the need to initiate a decrease, a greener consumption, more respectful of nature. Through organic viticulture, these women and men have already taken the lead and show us the path.

This story invites us to reflect on the place of humans in nature and perhaps to walk in the footsteps of these men and women who cultivate their land with love.
Workers at the edge or at the heart of our civilisation ?

(France, 2021) What the winegrowers call "the weep of the vine". It is the rise of sap after winter that prevents the opening of the first spring buds. This is the time of year when the vine is most vulnerable. Frosts, which had not been known since 1991, on April 8 and 12, 2021 "burned" a large part of the vines throughout France, compromising the harvests for the next 2 years. At the time of writing we do not yet know the extent of the damage, but we already know that some plots are condemned.

On April 10, 2021 the French Prime Minister has announced that the compensation scheme for agricultural disasters will be triggered.
On the evening of April 1, 2021, the Cady estate suffered a terrible fire. In this tragic event Alexandre Cady lost most of his wines, cellar and storage...
Less then 3 months after the fire Alexandre Cady succeeded in offering a new wine called "Resilience".

(Saint-Aubin de Luigné, June 26, 2021) Alexandre Cady poses with a bottle called "Resilience" following the fire.

NOTE TO EDITORS : The complete feature story includes two different editings of 55 bw photos or 50 color photos. And a text "During the lockdown we volunteered and got hired as wine workers" (20,000 characters, French only at the moment). Please contact us at contact@interreviews.fr

Outdoor exhibition inaugurated on October 10, 2021 at Saint-Aubin-de-Luigné, France

A text & photos book is planned for 2022

All photographs copyrighted © matthieu alexandre / inTERREviews.fr

texts © marjolaine edouard / inTERREviews.fr