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Successful Harvest Experience Day in Bordeaux!

Last weekend we were at Château Beau Rivage, in the Bordeaux region, to get involved in the harvest with some of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience clients.  We had a great time, mixing work in the vineyard, getting to know the winemakers and sharing their knowledge, and of course tasting some great wines!


Harvest Experience Day at Château Beau Rivage in Bordeaux


After a brief introduction to the winery, Christine (the owner and winemaker) and her team, we headed off to the vineyard, each carrying a basket and pair of secateurs.  Christophe explained the differences between the five grape varieties grown in the vineyard, the work involved in bringing the grapes to maturity, and what to look out for to know when the grapes have reached the ideal moment for harvesting.

Adopt-a-vine sign

Before starting to harvest, we made our way to the part of the vineyard where the Gourmet Odyssey vines are located, so that each client could find their adopted vines.  To help identify the vines, Château Beau Rivage had engraved wooden signs, specially for the clients of the Harvest Experience Day, at the barrel-making firm that belongs to Christine's family.


Christine threw out a challenge to us to fill a trailer! In pairs, each on opposite sides of a row, we began to harvest the Merlot plot that was at the peak of its maturity.  A few songs and the regular cry of "Porter" added to the snip snip of the secateurs and the rustle of leaves.  Once the baskets were filled, the harvester called for the porter, and empties the picked grapes into the basket that the porter carries on his back.  Having collected the bunches from the different teams of harvesters, the porter then empties his basket into the trailer, which starts to fill little by little.


Transferring the grapes to the trailer

The work of the harvester and porter is very physical, especially if done day after day for a couple of weeks.  Luckily, our mission was finished in a little over two hours, and a wine tasting session and harvester's meal awaited us back at the château!

Barbecue over dried vines

The first wine we tasted was the Château Beau Rivage Clairet 2009, a fresh Bordeaux style rosé, served with local charcuterie.  Accompanying the duck and gizzards salad, we tasted the Château Beau Rivage 2005 and 2003 vintages, and the Clementine 2004.  During this time, Christophe started the barbecue by lighting the dried vine branches that would cook our delicious steak bordelaise, served with a gratin dauphinois and a carafed Clos la Bohème 2007, and the Phare 2002. Once the cheese and home-made chocolate cake were also finished, it was time to get back to work!

The grapes climb into the destemmer

The tractor reversed the trailer full of harvested grapes to the reception area.  The grapes climb up a mechanized ladder from the trailer to the de-stemming machine, where the grape berries are separated from the stalks.  We all gathered round the sorting table to remove any bad grapes or stems that managed to get through the machine.  There were very few rotten grapes this year, which helped us with the sorting!

Remontage to mix the grape juice with the skin

Once the sorting was finished, we entered the winery to learn more about the first stages of fermentation which turns the grape sugar into alcohol.  We watched a "remontage" happen, where the must (grape juice) is drawn from the bottom of the vats and pumped back into the top to mix with the grape skins that remain at the top.  This process is very important to ensure that the tannins and colour from the grape skins are best extracted to help improve the quality of the wine.  We tasted the sweet tasting must directly from the vat, to better understand firsthand about fermentation.

Tasting the Grape Must in the cellar

After a quick tour of the cellar to see the barrels that are currently holding the 2009 vintage, and some cleaning of the tools used during the day, the time had come to say our farewells.  A huge thank you to all the clients, and to the staff at Château Beau Rivage for having brought such energy and good cheer to this harvest experience day.


  • Thanks again for the great day spent at Château Beau Rivage. We really appreciated the group, the human touch that you brought to the day, and the wine which was quite simply delicious!

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The Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

Adopt a Vine in France and Follow the Making of Your Own Wine !

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