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A great 2015 harvest in Burgundy

The 2015 Harvest Experience Days got off to a great start last weekend, not in the south of France as is usually the case, but in Burgundy at Domaine Chapelle. The harvest is early this year in all of France's wine growing regions, but it is particularly true in Burgundy after an uncharacteristically hot summer where the temperatures climbed as high as 40°C in July.

Wine experience in France, Burgundy

Fortunately, the temperatures have decreased again, and we had the perfect conditions for harvesting the grapes. Dry, not too hot, with maximum temperatures around the 20°C mark, some wind, and sunny for the most part.

After the introductions in the garden of Domaine Chapelle, we headed off to the Clos des Cornières vineyard, the plot where the Gourmet Odyssey adopted vines are located. Before getting down to the serious business of harvesting, we took a few minutes to say hello to our vines and thank them for producing such a good harvest this year! As we were to find out, the quality is potentially excellent for the 2015 vintage, even if the dry summer has meant that there is a little less quantity than Jean-François, the winemaker and owner, was hoping for!

Rent a vine in Burgundy, France

Jean-François then told us how to harvest, which grapes to pick, and which to leave behind. In pairs, we were then allocated a row of vines, and armed with pair of secateurs each, we started to pick the grapes!

Vineyard experience in France, Burgundy

The crates soon started to fill, and we brought them back to the beginning of the row to exchange them for an empty one.

Unique wine gifts in France, Burgundy

Harvesting is a relatively therapeutic activity, as you are just concentrated on the task in hand, and so it is a great way to clear the mind for a couple of hours. It is however fairly tough on the back, and we all had a thought for the team of regular harvesters at the winery who are harvesting all day, every day, for 10 days!

Our morning's work well accomplished, and having cleaned up a little, we returned to the garden for a well deserved aperitif! Whilst we enjoyed a nice fresh Santenay 2014 white wine and ate some gougères, a local savoury specialty, we took the opportunity to question Jean-François some more , and to listen to him explain a variety of topics ranging from the local geology to his reasons for converting the winery to being organic.

Wine lover gift in France, Burgundy

The wine tasting continued over lunch with some of the wineries red wines, a Clos des Cornières 2011, an Aloxe-Corton 2012, finishing with a Santenay Premier Cru "Les Commes" 2007.

In the afternoon, we followed the journey that the grapes take once they have been picked in the vineyard. The first stop was the reception hall, where the harvest is emptied onto the sorting table to remove any leaves or unripe grapes.

Wine experience gifts in Burgundy, France

We learnt how red and white grapes are treated differently, the Chardonnay being put into the press in whole bunches, whilst the Pinot Noir have the grape berries separated from the stalks in the de-stemming machine.

Wine making experience at Domaine Chapelle, France

Downstairs, we continued the journey into the fermentation hall. Here Yannick, the Technical Director, and Jean-François explained how the Chardonnay grapes are pressed and then how they are worked during the fermentation process.

Wedding present wine in France, Burgundy

We also learnt how the Pinot Noir grapes are put directly into the vats, and the work necessary to extract the colour and tannins present in the grape skins during the maceration period. The work during harvest time is far from over once the grapes have been picked!

Adopt a vine in Burgundy, France

The day finished with a final tasting of some grape juice as we discovered just how sweet it is. Over the coming couple of weeks, the sugar will be broken down and transformed into alcohol as the wine begins to take form.

Wine tasting gift at Domaine Chapelle, Burgundy

We'll then have to wait patiently as the wine continues its fermentation and ageing process over the next year or so, more of which will be covered in the Vinification Experience Days and newsletters next year.

Many thanks to Jean-François and his team at Domaine Chapelle for letting us participate in the harvest, and for sharing their time with us during this busy and stressful period! And of course, a huge thanks also to all of our apprentice harvesters for your hard work and good cheer!

Other articles relating to the 2015 harvest

The 2015 harvest gets under way for our partner wineries

The 2015 harvest. What happens next in the cellar?


  • Thanks for this great harvest day at Domaine Chapelle. It was active, instructive and tasty all at the same time. Our taste buds had a field day!

  • Great day to harvest. Good memories with Gourmet Odyssey...

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