As the wine harvest (vendange) draws to a close, something in the air has changed and it is not only the weather. Those long summer days are coming to an end, beckoning in the crisp autumn air, but it is also a time of anticipation, excitement and celebrations.
Every year, Bordeaux has sees an influx of people coming in to work in the vineyards either voluntarily in return for board or as a way to earn money.
This year, my family and I were fortunate enough to be able to participate in Chateau Marjosse’ vendange in the beautiful appellation of Entre-Deux-Mers. We arrived full of enthusiasm and ready for a hard days work.
We were given the task of picking one row of Merlot. They hung deliciously red and full on the vines. Fully equipped with our secateurs and wooden baskets we all set off at a quick pace. The weather was unseasonably hot and we had to work fast in the early morning to protect the quality of the grapes. The professional grape pickers had started their day at 3am (yikes!) to ensure the grapes remained at their best.
Making sure we only had the best grapes, our baskets were emptied into the chai. With Queen playing in the background (the 8 year old’s choice of music!), we started the laborious task of de-stemming. This process of separating the stem for the grapes before they are crushed is a long and tiring job and proved to be a little too much for the younger crew members, however time passes quickly with good company and good music and we were soon finished.
We had fun with the children, encouraging them to "press" the grapes in an amphora (a beautiful handmade terracotta pot). Unfortunately this is an ancient (Greek I believe!) method of pressing and whilst visually stunning is no longer a viable method - clean feet or not! Our youngest crew member started the crushing process in the amphora and clearly enjoyed it!
A well-earned celebration brought the day to a close, with a delicious harvest lunch, cooked by our friends Alex and Pierre, accompanied, of course, by some of Chateau Marjosse’s earlier vintages. Let’s hope our ‘cuvee’ will reflect, all the fun, joy, passion and hard work that we put into the day.
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