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Archive from July 2015

Training the vines at Château de la Bonnelière


Marc Plouzeau, the winemaker at Château de la Bonnelière, welcomed us to his winery during this very warm weekend, introducing us to our adopted vines, the life of a winemaker, and the beginnings of the 2015 vintage.

 

Rent-a-vine wine experience, Loire Valley, France

Our Discovery Experience Day started with a coffee and Marc recounting the long history of the winery and the region.  Marc took over the reins from his father in 1999, and started working organically straight away.  Today the winery covers 35 hectares of vines situated on Chinon's left bank.

In the vineyard, we took a few minutes to meet our adopted vines.  Thanks to the great weather we have been having since June and the warm temperatures, the vines are further advanced than is usual.

Adopt-a-vine gift experience at an organic French vineyard

The vine branches have grown quickly, and our task for the morning was to train them.  The vine is a creeper plant, and grows up from the ground producing big branches.  To cultivate it, you have to help support it, and that is why between each post in the vineyard, run three sets of training wires, with the middle one doubled up.

We had to raise the middle two wires and by doing so, trap the vegetation between them, and then attach the wires together using a clip.  This will help support the weight of the foliage and grapes, and will allow the tractor to more easily pass between the rows.

Vineyard experience working on the vines in the Loire Valley, France

The temperature rose during the morning, and Saturday's group welcomed the shade of the hanger whilst Marc explained the work in the vineyard to come between now and the harvest.  It was a little cooler on Sunday, and the group were able to finish training the remaining vine rows, before listening to Marc.

Organic winery tour in the Loire Valley

The 2015 vintage is shaping up very nicely so far, and we could be in for a great year.  The harvest should happen around the beginning of October.

It was then time for the aperitif!  We started our wine tasting with the "Perle Sauvage" sparkling rosé, and we appreciated the fine bubbles.  We then sat down to eat lunch, lovingly prepared by Madame Plouzeau, and tasted five different wines during the different courses.

Wine tasting gift at the winery in the Loire Valley, France

Despite the calls for a siesta, we continued our learning in the afternoon with a visit to the fermentation hall.  Luckily, this is the coolest place to be as it is air conditioned!  Marc quickly described how he vinifies his wine, something that we will go into much more detail about during the Vinification Experience Day.

Original gift for wine lovers. Visit an organic winery in Chinon, France.

The day then came to a close and it was time to thank our host and participants, many of who we'll have the pleasure of seeing again during one of the Harvest Experience Days.

Other articles relating to the work in the vineyard

A review of the work in the vineyard for the 2015 vintage

A great 2015 harvest in the Loire

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Training the vines at Domaine Chapelle


Last week-end couldn't have been better. The sun, warm weather and good cheer were all in attendance for the last two Discovery Experience Days of 2015 at Domaine Chapelle. We spent most of the day in the vineyard under the glorious Burgundy sun. These two days allowed us to discover the winery and to learn about the different work of the winemaker throughout the year.

Wine experience in Burgundy

To start the day, Jean-François Chapelle (Saturday) and Yannick Jacrot (Sunday), introduced us to the geology and geography of Burgundy, as well as the history of the winery. It's now over 100 years that this Burgundy winery has been in the hands of the Chapelle family! They also explained why they chose to make their wines organically, to respect the soil and the people who work it, as much as the pleasure of drinking a wine free from toxic products that can harm the health of the consumers! We then headed for the "Clos des Cornières" vineyard, which is located in front of the manor house. For most of us, it was the first contact with the Burgundy terroir and our adopted vines.

Rent a vine in Burgundy, France

Thanks to the good weather of the past few weeks, the vines are coming along famously. The grapes are already of a good size, and the bunches are plenty and in good health. If the summer passes without any hiccups, then the 2015 harvest should be of an excellent quality!

Original wine gift in Burgundy, France

Time to get down to some work... The work at the moment is to raise the training wires for the second time. Having finished the de-budding, which involved removing excess branches that the plant would otherwise have to nourish, we now have to air and give the vines as much space as possible to limit the spread of any potential disease, and to help the grapes mature. We trained a few rows of vines, being careful to separate the branches between each vine without breaking them. This is another of the manual tasks that has to be done throughout the winery's 18 hectares of vines.

Vineyard experience in Burgundy, France

Back at the winery, we made the most of the sunshine and took the aperitif outside. We tasted the Santenay Saint Jean 2013 white wine, accompanied by some gougères, a Burgundy savoury speciality. We continued the tasting of the Santenay red wines over lunch, finishing with a "Les Gravières" 2011 Premier Cru with the cheese.

Wine tasting gift in Burgundy, biodynamic, France

The afternoon started with a walk to the "Beaurepaire" vineyard, a Premier Cru plot of vines. This gave us the opportunity to discover a little more about the southern Côte de Beaune landscape and the local geology. This particular vineyard was replanted in spring, and the young vines are doing great. We learnt about the life cycle of a vine and were told that the vines won't give a full harvest for 5-7 years from now.

Wine gift packs at Domaine Chapelle, Burgundy

When we returned from the walk, a glass of water was greatly appreciated before continuing the day with a visit of the fermentation halls and the cellar. The fermentation hall is where the grapes are received at harvest time, and where we also bottle the wines. The building has been added to over the generations. In the oldest part, the old wooden casks that hold some of the Premier Cru wines are to be found.

Original wine gift in Burgundy
The second part is a little more modern, and was built by the father of Jean-François who furnished it with concrete vats. The most recent part houses stainless steel vats, with a cooling system to regulate the temperature of each vat. We quickly learnt how the grapes will be worked during the harvest, and how the alcoholic fermentation will occur.
Personalised bottles of wine in Burgundy, France

We finished the day with a tour of the vaulted Burgundy cellar. The 2014 wines are still ageing there in the oak barrels, and it is also where the majority of the bottles are stored.

Wine lover gift at Domaine Chapelle

Many thanks to Jean-François Yannick and Yvette for their availability and passionate explanations. And thanks also to all of the participants for a very enjoyable week-end at Domaine Chapelle. See you again soon for the harvest!

Other articles relating to the work in the vineyard

A review of the work in the vineyard for the 2015 vintage

A great 2015 harvest in Burgundy

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A sunny weekend at Château Beau-Rivage


Accompanied by David, the Technical Director at Château Beau Rivage, on the Saturday, and Christine, the owner of the winery on the Sunday, we enjoyed two Discovery Experience Days in Bordeaux last weekend. The two days were dedicated to learning about the work of the winemaker in the vineyard, and so we headed straight out amongst the vines to get started.

Vineyard experience in Bordeaux, France

The winery cultivates 5 grape varietals in the vineyard, and we learnt how to tell each of them apart from the merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, malbec and petit verdot. We saw how different pruning methods, guyot double and cordon, had been used, and we discovered the range of work such as de-budding, thinning the leaves, and working the soil, necessary to produce the best quality grapes at harvest time.

Wine making experience, biodynamic, Bordeaux

After the theory, time to get stuck in! We split into pairs and spread out among the rows. To help the vines grow and to facilitate the trimming, we ensured that each of the vine branches were supported between the training wires.

Wine lover gift at Bordeaux, unique experience, France

We then took a few minutes to relax and visited our adopted vines. The opportunity for some photos to be taken for the "My Vine" photo competition.

Rent a vine in France, Bordeaux

Good work is always rewarded, and at Château Beau Rivage, it comes in the form of wine! We tasted the Château Beau Rivage, Clos la Bohème, Benjamin, Clémentine, and Le Phare rosé and red wines over lunch. On Saturday, the rainshower didn't dampen the spirits, and the sun on Sunday made the rosé that much more enjoyable!

Wine experience gifts in France, Bordeaux

In the afternoon, we returned to the vineyard on Saturday and to the chai on Sunday, to learn about the key steps from now until the harvest, and to understand the reasons for working organically at the winery. We talked about the environment, the quality of the wines, production methods, and answered the varied questions.

Wine tasting gift in Bordeaux, France

Both days drew to a close around 4pm. Time to take a few last minute photos and to load the cars with wine as souvenirs of the weekend.

Thanks to all, and see you soon for the harvest!

Other articles relating to the work in the vineyard

A review of the work in the vineyard for the 2015 vintage

A sunny harvest in Bordeaux

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