It was time to visit Corbières again. It has been far too long. I miss the beauty of the vineyards sprawling across the land when in season, green leaves embracing the deep blue sky. Never a dark cloud when I arrive. It is always a good omen. It is a far cry from the usual gnarly plants you usually see. It is time for the grape harvest. The town has a regional celebration for the big event. Tourists like me flock in droves to taste the latest offerings of the local wineries. As many times as I have been to France, I have not been to all the wineries around Corbières. I like to take my time and savor the wines of each one. I can easily spend a day, talking to the owners, having wine tastings and enjoying lunch. A walk through the vineyards is always on my list. It is not an experience you want to rush. There is a protocol to it involving palette cleansing and the inevitable purchase of a case or two.
Thus, some wineries remained on my must-visit list and I rented a villa with a close friend in the middle of the prime territory, so I could be in walking or biking distance. I hoped it would be picturesque sitting amid the vines in full bloom. Picturesque it was. As we drove up, I was aghast at the charm of the exterior. It was so quaint all done in a soft sand color with peach trim. It was traditional country French with heavy wood beams and accents of handmade tiles. There was a stone walkway and a plethora of flowering plants. It was utterly charming, and I couldn’t wait to see the inside. I noticed a patio on the side of the house with several comfortable-looking lounge chairs. There was a table with a giant umbrella, so you could have a meal outside and enjoy the weather and lovely scenery. I was in heaven. My friend had a big smile on her face.
We got out of the car and proceeded to the front door which had been left open for us. We each had small travel bags. No sooner had we set them down, then we were inundated with a strange smell. Was it “old house” mustiness? Was it a dead animal? No, it was stale cigarette smoke. Perhaps the caretaker was a chain smoker and indulged freely in the house. No matter. It was unacceptable, and we considered moving. Talking to the rental agency, they promised to remedy the problem immediately and that there would be No More Smoke Smell, or we could change our minds.
That very day, they had a crew scrubbing and cleaning. Best of all, they opened all the windows and doors. It was fresher already. A few doses of air deodorizer, a plugged-in air purifier, and a few burning candles did the job. We were ready to move in and begin our adventures. Wineries, here we come!