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The Harvest 2012 Finishes in Chinon

The 2012 harvest has now finished at all of our partner wineries.  We had our final Harvest Experiences days of the year at Château de la Bonnelière in Chinon last weekend.  The winemaker, Marc Plouzeau, had left us a couple of plots of vines to harvest, so come rain or shine, it was up to us to finish the job!

Original wine gift. Harvest Experience Day at Château de la Bonnelière, Chinon, Loire Valley, France

On Saturday, we headed off to one of the oldest vineyards in France, the Clos du Maulevrier, where the vines survived the phylloxera disease that ravaged the vast majority of the French vineyards in 1860.  Here, all of the work on the vines is carried out by hand.

Harvester in action

After the distribution of buckets, secateurs and cases, we spread out among the rows to start harvesting!

On Sunday, we finished the Clos de la Bonnelière vineyard, where the adopted vines are located.  Each day we took some time to visit the vines and to take the odd photo or two!

Visiting the adopted vines

A morning harvesting makes for thirsty work, so the wine tasting session at midday was most welcome, starting with one of the winery's sparkling wines, Perles Sauvages.  We continued the tasting session with the red wines during the harvesters' meal in the old barn.

Wine tasting and harvesters meal

After lunch, we headed over to the chai to rejoin our harvest and participate in putting it into the fermentation tanks.  We took the crates out of the van and tipped the grapes into the de-stemming machine which separates the berries from the stalks.

Putting the garpes into the de-stemming machine

The grape berries are collected in a trolley which is then raised by a forklift truck and emptied into a vat.  This method of putting the harvest into the fermentation tanks ensures the maximum number of intact grapes enter the vat, which improved the quality of the wine.

Putting the grapes into the vat

We then set about cleaning the material to keep the chai and equipment hygienic.

Cleaning the material

Marc explained to us how the sugar in the grapes will be turned into alcohol during fermentation, and how he will work in the chai over the coming days to nurture the wines.

We finished the day with a final tasting, this time of two grape juices at different stages of fermentation to compare their evolution.

Tasting the grape juice

Many thanks to Marc for sharing his knowledge and passion with us, and to our clients for working so well despite the odd drop or two of rain!


  • Many thanks to the two Mark's!
    To Marc Plouzeaux for his welcome and his passion in talking about and sharing his profession, and to Mark for his perfect organisation and his smile!
    Many thanks also to those who work in the shadows behind the scenes to prepare the tasty and friendly meal.
    Can't wait for the next weekend. See you soon.
    Martine & Patrick.

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

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