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2013 Harvest in the Loire Valley


The tour of Harvest Experience Days for the 2013 season came to an end last weekend in Chinon, in the magnificent settings of Château de la Bonnelière.  Bright sunshine and a beautiful blue sky were also on the menu for Sunday!

Harvest Experience Gift for wine lovers. Rent-a-vine and harvest your own grapes

Marc Plouzeau, the estate's winemaker, had reserved the "Clos de la Bonnelière" vineyard for us to harvest, as it is here that the Gourmet Odyssey clients adopted vines are to be found.

Wine Experience Gift for wine lovers. Get involved in the harvest in Chinon, the Loire Valley, France

We started each day with the handing out of the essential tools needed for harvesting; a bucket and a pair of secateurs each!  After the initial instructions of how to harvest, we spread out in two among the vine rows to start the harvest.

Rent-avine gift for wine lovers. Harvest Experience Days at the winery in France

Every ten metres a crate had been placed under the row of vines.  Once the bucket was full of grapes, we emptied it into one of the crates.  The group was very enthusiastic and the grapes in abundance, so the crates started to quickly fill up!  So much so that we had to fetch some more to keep up with the efficiency of our harvesters!

Adopt-a-Vine Gift in Chinon, Loire Valley, France and get invovled in the harvest

Once we had finished the first few rows, a few brave volunteers helped to load the full crates, first onto the small tractor that went up and down the rows, and then to transfer them onto the flat bed truck.  Harvesting isn't just about picking bunches of grapes!

Original_Wine_Gift for wine lovers. Adopt vines and participate in the harvest

We then took it in turns to follow the grapes journey to the chai to get involved in the sorting.  We emptied the grapes from the crates onto the sorting table, and then removed the grapes that weren't ripe enough or those affected by mould.  Given the dampness of the preceding couple of weeks, there was remarkably little mould this year.

Wine making gift in France. Renat-a-vine and get involved in making your own wine

At the end of the sorting table, the grape bunches fell into the de-stemming machine to separate the stalks from the berries.  The berries then fell into the trolley below.

Seprating the grape berries from the stems

We put the harvest from the two days into two separate containers.   With the help of a forklift truck, the first part was put into one of the stainless steel vats, as is normal for the Clos de la Bonnelière wine.

Wine enthusiast gift. Harvest Experience in Chinon, Loire Valley, France

This year, Marc is also testing using some demi-muids, large barrels that can contain 600 litres.  We put some of the harvest into one of these barrels, the idea being to give a little more structure to the wine.  But we'll have to wait a few months before seeing the results!

Putting the grapes into one of the barrels

After these two work-filled mornings, the aperitif was just reward!  In the hanger next to the vineyard we tasted the "Perle Sauvage", a delicious natural sparkling wine made on the estate.

We took the harvesters lunch in the barn and continued the wine tasting with the "Touraine Chenin", a white wine made from Chenin Blanc, and two Chinon reds, the "Clos de la Bonnelière" 2011 and the "Chapelle" 2010.

Wine tasting at the winery during the harvest, Chinon, Loire Valley

In the afternoon we returned to the vineyard to find our adopted vines, a perfect excuse to take a few more pictures!

Harvest Experience Present

The day ended back in the chai.  Marc explained to us how the wines are worked during the fermentation period, and we finished with a tasting of some grape juices.  The first juice was before fermentation has set in, and the second one that had started to ferment, and so was slightly fizzy.

Many thanks to all of our clients for their hard work and good humour, and of course to Marc and his mother, Marie- Rose, for their warm welcome and hospitality!

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