Sep 9, 2011

Burgundy 2011 harvest blog 6

Finally, on Friday the harvest ended at Drouhin-Laroze! It is time for celebration, and the village of Gevrey-Chambertin was full of happy people as other domaines celebrated the end of harvest during the same day! A lot of great moments and hard work behind, it is a bit sad to leave these very nice people and go home - although I am heading down south to French Riviera after the week, to enjoy beach & sun for a couple of days!!!!!!!!

We gathered for a team picture during the last day at Drouhin-Laroze. The owners of the estate, Philippe and Christine, are in the forefront - who I would like to thank a lot!

The international body of the team consisted of two Swedes, one English and two Finns, while the rest were French grape pickers. Two fellow Finns, friends of Hanna-Mari, had already left home before this picture was taken. You can find me in the top row, 15th counted from the right.

Sep 8, 2011

Burgundy 2011 harvest blog 5

Again working at the cellar, where there is a lot of action. And a lot of cleaning. Cleaning is really important here, taking a lot of the time. However clean production equipment is very much needed for producing top-notch wines as the winemaker does not want any off-flavours to his or her wine due to poorly maintained equipment.

The sorting belt is some 5 meters long, we are two men pouring the belt full of grapes and 2-3 women / men sorting the unripe or rotten grapes from the belt.

After the sorting belt, the grapes are put through a destemmer into large vats, they are cooled with dry ice and the grapes are lifted to the fermenting vats with the dry ice for cold materation. The heat will be controlled in the fermenting vats and the actual alcohol fermentation will begin when desired.

Sep 7, 2011

Burgundy 2011 harvest blog 4

Today I worked at the cellar at the sorting table, both at filling the table with grapes as well as sorting the bad ones out (the ones left after initial grape selection on the vineyard). This is the quality assurance before the grapes are destemmed and put into vats.

Some white grapes, i.e. pinot blanc, are in the mix with pinot noir grapes, which is not unsual here as some mutations have occured in the vineyard. They are ok to be put in the same tanks as pinot noir grapes we are told. The very presticious Musigny grand cru was 40 baskets, i.e. some 920 kg of grapes. Clos de Vougeot grapes were really good too, while Bonnes Mares generally good grapes with some unequal bunches.

Sep 6, 2011

Burgundy 2011 harvest blog 3

Early in the morning we did village Gevrey-Chambertin crus and later the Chapelle-Chamberin grand cru, followed by Clos de Beze grand cru. The grapes especially in Chapelle-Chambertin were of excellent health, only a few bunches with rot. Thus the grape-picking goes a lot faster, as there is less need to cut out the bad grapes from bunches.

The catering is so nice here, after the 7.15 breakfast we get bread, cheese, charcuterie, water, beer or rose wine at 9.30am, a three-course lunch with wine at noon (2hr break), again bread, chocolate, beer and rose wine at 3.30pm, then after the work day is over, a three-course dinner with wine at 7.30pm. You are really kept well in these circustances.

The nights end really early, everybody is at bed at 9.30pm, so tired and ready to get some well-earned sleep. Good night everybody.

Sep 5, 2011

Burgundy 2011 harvest blog 2

Wake-up at 6.45 am, followed by breakfast with the team at 7.15am, be sure to be in a truck at 7.45am and at the vineyard 8am.

We work in teams of one "porteur", i.e. grape carrier, per 5-6 grape pickers, with the porteurs' 23 kg grape basket getting filled with grapes every 4-6 mins. We were 6 porteurs today, and 32 pickers if I counted right. Worked mainly in Gevrey-Chambertin village crus today. The porteurs' grape basket fills every 4-6 mins with 23 kg of grapes, which have to be carried to the truck waiting on the road. The grape basket itself weights some 5kg. Hard work, very hard work. The health of grapes is uneven, with meticulous work on cutting away the rotten grapes before taking to the winery.

Sep 4, 2011

Burgundy 2011 harvest blog

This year, it is Burgundy.
Participating in the grape harvest in is always a fun experience. In 2011 I had the chance to do harvest work in the other favorite wine production area of mine, Burgundy (France), after participating in the 2010 harvest in Barolo (Piemonte, Italy). I hopped on a plane from Lisbon, Portugal where I had been in a corporate event needing my presence and arrived at Lyon-St. Exupery on Sunday 4th. After taking a train to mid-town, then to Beaune and another to arrive at Gevrey-Chambertin, I was ready to go work in grand cru vineyards among the best pinot noirs in the world.

The estate is one of the largest and well-known producers of the area, Domaine Drouhin-Laroze. And it will be very interesting to work at grand cru vineyards. Drouhin-Laroze owns 11.5 ha of vineyards while also purchasing a small amount of grapes from other producers for the Laroze de Drouhin line of wines which are made by their daughter Caroline. An impressive 5.2 ha of them are Grand Cru vineyards. The Grand Cru vineyards include the prestigious Le Musigny Grand Cru (0.12 ha, only two barrels made each year), while Drouhin-Laroze is the second largest owner in Bonnes Mares (1.5 ha). Grand crus located in Gevrey are Chambertin-Clos de Beze (1.5 ha), Latricieres-Chambertin (0.67 ha) and Chapelle-Chambertin (0.52 ha). Finally, the domaine owns vines in the upper part,of the large Grand Cru of Clos de Vougeot, also know as "Des Papes" (1.0 ha). Click to see a map of the vineyards:

The team had already done two full days of grape picking before I arrived, so I joined in on the third day (Monday). The team includes 40 persons this year in addition to the 7 normally working at the domaine.

The pinot noir grapes ripened were significantly earlier in 2011 than in 2010 when the harvest was conducted as late as early October. More posts from harvest work to come soon...