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2012 Harvest in Burgundy at Domaine Chapelle

This year's harvest at Domaine Chapelle is now over, and it was the clients of Gourmet Odyssey who finished it off!  The Harvest Experience Days were spread over four days, and with the exception of a few minutes worth of rain on one of the days, we miraculously avoided the worst of the very variable weather that Burgundy has seen in the past few weeks.

Wine Experience Gift for a wine enthusiast. Adopt a vine and harvest your own grapes in Burgundy, France

The Harvest Experience days each started directly in the Clos des Cornières vineyard, the plot where the adopted vines are located.  As is the custom, we took a few minutes so that everyone could introduce themselves to their adopted vines, and we have already received a few entries for the "My Vine" photo competition.

But to more serious matters - the harvest!  Once instruction had been given, secateurs and cases distributed, we spread out in twos among the vine rows to begin the harvest.  Our objective was to reach the wall at the far end of the clos, something that none of our clients had achieved to date.

Harvest Experience Gift in Burgundy

But 2012 isn't a year like the others.  In the vineyard it's been a very difficult campaign.  A mild winter followed by a few weeks of arctic conditions, cold and wet weather during the flowering season, and then the subsequent passing of three hailstorms have each played their part in lowering the yield.  In a normal year (if such a thing exists!), you would expect perhaps one of these events, but never all together.  As a result, there were considerably less grapes on each vine than normal, and our harvesters positively galloped through the rows.  Where several cases were filled per row last year, just one case was needed this year.  Fortunately with wine though, a lack of quantity doesn't necessarily mean a lack of quality, as those who tasted some of the grapes instead of putting them in the basket can attest to!

Back at the winery, the wine tasting was just reward!  For the aperitif, we compared a Santenay St Jean 2011 white wine with a Meursault 2010, accompanied by a few gougères, the local cheese puff delicacy.

Wine tasting session of the Burgundy white and red wines from the Côtes de Beaune

Over the harvester's lunch, we tasted some of the winery's red wines.  We started with a couple of different vintages of the Santenay Clos des Cornières to taste the red wine chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey cuvée, and to see how it develops over time.  We then finished with a fine Aloxe Corton.

Harvester's Lunch

From the vineyard, we picked up the trail of our grapes.  First stop the reception hall where the harvested grapes are delivered.  Here, we took up our station around the sorting table to remove any unripe grapes or bunches that had started to develop fungus.

Sorting the grapes on the sorting table

At the end of the sorting table the grapes fall into the de-stemming machine, which separates the berries from the stalks.  The grape berries then continue their fall by gravity down a slide into a waiting trolley below.

Inside the fermentation hall, we followed the end of the grapes journey into the fermentation tanks.  Here we learnt how the sugar will be transformed into alcohol, and how the tannins and colour are extracted from the grape skins during the maceration period.

Putting the grapes into the fermentation tanks

Then a quick tour of the cellar to see where our wine will rest during the malo-lactic fermentation and age for the necessary time in the oak barrels.

Cellar tour

We ended the day by sampling the grape juice that we had just harvested.  It's nice and interesting to taste, but the end product will be even better!


  • Thank you for this really good day, managed with talent by Olivier (great first day for him).
    The timing was respected which it has to be said is not easy for this type of event, and great to meet such passionate winemakers.

  • Many thanks for this very pleasant and instructive day, where we learnt how much a good bottle of wine isn't born out of luck, but from passion, hard work and lots of self sacrifice.

  • We really appreciated the day and we won't hesitate to recommend your site to those who are looking to offer an original gift.

    Good luck with your business.

    François and Mireille

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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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