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Harvest Experience Day in the Languedoc


We have just spent our first Wine Experience day at Domaine Allegria, and we are thrilled with our choice of winery and the winemakers, Ghislain and Delphine d'Aboville.  A fantastic setting and a passionate couple who have an unconventional and captivating story on how they ended up settling under the Languedoc sun of southern France.

We met up with some of the clients of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience for the harvest, and what fine grapes were waiting for us!

Harvest Experience Day at Allegria, Pezenas, Languedoc-Roussillon, south of France

In front of the brand new winery building, Ghislain introduced us the estate and briefly described his professional journey, from his beginnings in the Champagne region, his studies of wine in Montpellier, the experiences he gained whilst working in wineries in France, Argentina and Italy, up until his quest to find the perfect land, capable of providing the quality of grapes to make the wines that he had so long dreamed of making.

In the vineyard at domaine Allegria

Rounding the winery building, we headed up into the vines, where Ghislain pointed out the difference in grape varieties and terroir.  We crossed to the far side of the vineyard to reach the plot where the adopted vines of Gourmet Odyssey's clients are located.  A personalised sign for each client was awaiting them to identify their row of vines!

Harvest of the grapes among the vines

But, as the name of the Harvest Experience day suggests, we were there to harvest!  Armed with a pair of secateurs each and a crate, we dispersed amongst the vine rows in teams of two to get to work harvesting.  A few grapes found their way into our mouths rather than the crates, giving the first hint of the vintage to come!

Van filled with crates

The van was quickly filled with the bulging crates, so Ghislain took the first part of the harvest back to the winery and brought us back some new empty crates.  We obviously had a crack team of harvesters with us!

Wine tasting at Allegria, Pezenas, Languedoc-Roussillon, southern France

Back at the winery, the aperitif was most welcome!  We started the wine tasting of Allegria's nectar with the "Petits Bonheurs" 2010 rosé, followed by the "Tribu d'A" 2008 white. 

Tasting the red and white wines, Coteaux du Languedoc Pezenas

We continued the tasting over lunch with some red wines: the "Tribu d'A" 2008 red, a blend of 80% syrah and 20% mourvèdre and the wine chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey vintages, the "Cousu Main" 2008, served in magnums, finishing with the "Carignan Gourmand" 2008.

Unloading the crates full of the harvested grapes

After the meal, it was time to get back to work! The first task was to empty the remainder of the harvested grapes from the van.

Before starting to put the grapes into the fermentation tanks, we had to rinse the material, and then we each took our places in a different work post.

Emptying the grapes into the egrappeur

The first team took the full crates and emptied them into the "égrappeur", a machine that separates the berries from the stalks.

Harvested Grapes falling into the fermentation vat

The grapes fall into a basin, from where they are pushed into the vat with the help of an electric pump.  Another team, positioned above the tanks controlled the grapes as they arrived.  Each grape variety and plot of vines is vinified separately in different vats.

Speading the grape stems amongst row of vines to compost and return nutrients to the soil

The stalks are collected in crates underneath the de-stemming machine and are then taken away and spread among the vines to decompose and return nutrients to the soil.  The vines at Allegria are cultivated organically, so no synthetic fertilizers are allowed.

It's very impressive to have the opportunity to be able to go behind the scenes to see the grapes being put to rest in the vats, and we were surprised with the speed with which we got through all of the bunches of grapes that had took us so long to harvest in the morning!

Cleaning the equipment at the end of the Harvest Experience Day

At the end of the day, all that remained was to clean the crates, secateurs and the rest of the material used so that all was ready the following day.

A very instructive and fun day to gain a small insight into the life of a winemaker.  Many thanks to all who came, and to Ghislain and Delphine for their warm welcome.  We left Pézenas with the feeling that the Allegria odyssey is only just beginning!

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