Anticipating harvest is much like anticipating a birth. When it’s almost time to bear down, nothing else matters.
It has been a spectacular year: plenty of rain in the winter, mildness during flowering, a very hot, dry June and July, just enough rain in August to plump up the berries, and now September: a gift of warm, sunny days and cool nights. Conditions are ideal, the grapes are healthy… but I will say no more lest I tempt our luck.
And so it’s a scurry to get ready. We’ve organized an old fashioned hand harvest by family and friends for the Rosé this Saturday, concentrating on our most precious parcel – Cabernet Franc and Merlot vines that are 70 to 80 years old. I’m especially fond of these rare, old pieds for many reasons, including the fact that they date from around WW2, before the practice of planting clones.
My favorite moments this summer were spent coddling them and feeling the power of their root system which can delve down 10 to 16 meters! Imagine how much wonderful minerality they can absorb from the limestone bedrock. And interestingly, they are less prone to the maladies du bois that affect the younger vine plants.
In the meantime the winery and all the equipment must be readied. This summer we built a brand new annex, installed another custom tank, added pumps, a cold system etc.
And of course just last week we had to empty our big tanks of tasty vintage 2014, to make room for 2015. Bottling day is always a major event, best suited to the stout of heart, legs and arms. A long day made festive by a convivial lunch drinking the wine we were just putting up.
With less than 48 hours to go before our teams arrive, we’re still de-leafing the rows for the pickers so they can move quickly – we must get the grapes into the press during the cool of morning to prevent oxidation. And I need to prepare beds and some hearty meals for these dear volunteers. Would be nice to clone myself…
But back to the vineyard now. My reward will be a detour through the orchard where the ripe comice pears are dropping on to the soft grass. Something warm, sweet and juicy to bite into on my return.
Not like baby Eveleen who found the sour grapillons we were cutting away!