We went through our last lock and stopped for brunch just outside of Aij. The spot was rather comfortable and we decide to linger for a few days.
It was Sunday and everything was closed, shuttered and quiet. On our walk there was an old wine press on display. Modern methods have not changed much as old rules and regulations are still in place.
Aij or Ay is most famous as a centre of the production of Champagne. Aij"s vineyards are located in the Vallée de la Marne on Montagne de Reims and are classified as Grand Cru in the Champagne vineyard classification.
The directional sign post to our favourite Champagne Houses in Aij. Many prestigious Champagne houses own vineyards in the immediate vicinity and many producers are located in Aij.
We took a stroll though the vineyards to view the grapes and have a quick taste. The primary grapes used in the production of Champagne are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.
Champagne appellation laws only allow grapes grown according to appellation rules and in specifically designed plots within the appellation to be used in the production of Champagne.
The trade of wine producing is very apparent.
The grandeur of Champagne houses peek out from behind closed gates. Many are entrance by invitation only. There are about forty Champagne houses in Aij including the oldest of the champagne houses dated from 1584.
Then there are other tastes, such as hedge hock purses.
There are owls for the night life.
Champagne bonbons in the shape of Champagne corks
Further down the street is a row of older timber framed houses with signs of a long prestigious past. Pope Leon 10th and some of the Kings of France regularly stocked up here.
Churches owned vineyards and monks produced wine for the use in the sacrament of Eucharist. French kings were traditionally anointed in Reims, and Champagne was served as part of the coronation festivities. The oldest recorded sparkling wine, which was apparently invented by the Benedictine Monks in the Abbey of Saint Hillaire, near Carcassonne in 1531.
The sky was darkening and it was time to return to the barge.
The change in the weather has snuck-up on us unnoticed and suddenly Autumn leaves are starting to appear everywhere.