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The harvest season continues in the Loire Valley

The 2014 series of Gourmet Odyssey Harvest Experience Days came to an end last weekend under a magnificent blue sky at Château de la Bonnelière in Chinon. We had a great day to finish the season.

After a coffee and a croissant, Marc Plouzeau, introduced us to his winery, and told us about the "Vin Doux" plot of vines that we were to harvest. Marc bought this vineyard of magnificent old vines a couple of years ago, and it is currently being converted to organic.

Harvest experience in the Loire Valley

Once in the vineyard, Marc and Noémie, the vineyard manager, handed out the tools we needed to harvest. Each equipped with a bucket and pair of secateurs, we listened attentively to the instructions before spreading out in twos among the vine rows to start picking the grapes.

Harvesters at work in Chinon Loire Valley

We also had a few volunteer porters. Once we had filled our buckets, we called a porter and emptied our grapes into the basket that they carried on their backs. They then took the grapes and emptied them into the trailer at the bottom of the vineyard.

Porter for the harvest 2014 in chinon

Once we had finished our rows, we followed our harvest back to the winery to discover the sorting table, where we removed any unripe berries or leaves that had inadvertently added themselves. But due to the high quality of the grapes and the diligent work of our harvesters, there wasn't much to sort at all! At the end of the table, a de-stemming machine separates the stalk from the grapes which fall into a trolley below.

Sorting grapes for the harvest 2014 in Chinon

We then split our harvest into two parts. The first was put into a 600 litre barrel for an integral vinification, and the second into one of the vats. Marc explained what happens to the juice during the fermentation process that will last up to 3 weeks.

Once we had finished putting the grapes into the barrel and vat, we were rewarded with a glass of « Perle Sauvage », the natural sparkling wine produced at the winery.

Wine tasting at Château de la Bonnelière Chinon France

The harvesters' meal was served in the barn, where we continued the tasting of wines, including the Chinon blanc 2013, Clos de Bonnelière 2012 and Chapelle 2011.

Harvester's lunch at Château de la Bonnelière Chinon

After lunch, we headed out into the vineyard where the Gourmet Odyssey adopted vines are to be found.

Vine adoption in Chinon Loire Valley

We then returned to the chai to learn more about the important work carried out there during the harvest, and to learn about the differences in making white, red and rosé wines. We finished the day by tasting some grape juice that had just started to ferment. Marc also showed us how to measure the density of the juice and estimate the potential alcoholic volume using the mustimetre.

Assessing the potential alcoholic volume of the wine

Many thanks to Marc, Marie-Rose and Noémie from Château de la Bonnelière for welcoming us and accompanying us during the Harvest Experience Days, and to all of our clients for their good cheer!

See you again soon for the Vinification Experience Days!


  • Hi,

    We spent a superb Harvest Experience day at Chateau de la Bonneliere. The welcome is always as good.

    We can't wait for the Vinification Experience Day.

    Kind regards

    Annick and Gerard

  • A very good day on all accounts and lots of luck with the excellent weather.

    We had fun harvesting, and enjoyed our exchanges and warm welcome from the 2 Marc(k)s...


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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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