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Harvest Experience Days 2012 in Bordeaux


We spent last weekend in Macau-en-Médoc for the Harvest Experience Days at Château Beau Rivage. We had to be flexible due to the changeable weather, but we managed to harvest three different plots of vines, merlot, malbec and cabernet sauvignon.

The days started with an introduction to the château and the winemaker, Chrsitine Nadalié, before heading straight out into the vineyard.

Original Gift for a wine enthusiast. Harvest Experience Day at Château Beau Rivage, Bordeaux

Before getting down to the real work of harvesting, we paid a visit to the part of the vineyard where the adopted vines are located!

Harvest your adopted vines in an organic Bordeaux vineyard

Then secateurs in hand, and having received our instructions on how to harvest, we spread out between the rows to start picking the grapes.

Harvest Experience Gift. Porter emptying the harvested grapes into the trailer

On Saturday we harvested using porters with baskets on their backs to carry the grapes between the harvesters and the awaiting trailer.

Harvesting the grapes into cases

On Sunday the weather forecast was for some showers, so we harvested the grapes into some crates to give us more flexibility.  And luckily we did too, because shortly after we started harvesting the second plot of vines, we had to rush back to take shelter in the chai!

Wine Tasting of the winery's bordeaux superieur and haut-medoc wines

We stopped at lunchtime to taste the wines from Château Beau Rivage and to eat the harvesters' meal.  After the morning's effort, it was most welcome!

Sorting Table

During the days, we also participated in putting our harvest into the fermentation tanks.  On Saturday, the bunches were pushed from the trailer into the de-stemming machine to separate the grapes from the stalks.  Then, gathered around the sorting table, we removed any unripe or rotten berries before they were pumped into the vats.

Emptying the crates into the de-stemming machine

We worked a little differently on Sunday, emptying the crates into the de-stemming machine which then placed the grapes directly onto an escalator to be put into the vats.

The cleaning team!

And we also had a few helpful volunteers who got stuck into cleaning the material afterwards!

Oxygenating the wine

In the chai, Christine explained how the grape juice will be transformed into wine during the fermentation stage.  We also saw how the juice is drawn from the bottom of the vats and pumped back into the top, a process which helps oxygenate the wine and extract more tannin from the grape skins.

 

Tour of the barrel room

We then went into the barrel room for an introduction into the vinification and ageing side of wine making.

Tasting the grape juice

The day finished with the tasting of a grape juice that has just started to ferment.  Very sweet and a little effervescent, but the first taste of the wine to come!

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