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A good harvest in Chablis

Last Saturday was a busy day for Gourmet Odyssey, as we were hosting Harvest Experience Days in the Rhône Valley, the Languedoc, and also in Chablis at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard. One would normally expect to harvest a few weeks later in Burgundy than the south of France, but the exceptionally hot summer, combined with the hail storm that hit some of the vineyards in Chablis on the 31st August, meant that the harvest had been brought forward.

As soon as we had finished the introductions we headed outside to receive our equipment for the day, a pair of secateurs and a bucket each, and a couple of baskets for the porters. We met up with Emilie, from the vine management team at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, in the Sainte Claire vineyard, and listened intently as she gave us our instructions on how to harvest, and which grapes to pick and which to leave behind.

Wine experience gift in France, Burgundy

We paired off, two to a row, and set about harvesting. First we removed the leaves from the vines from around the fruit. This helped us to more easily access the grape bunches, and also made it safer in warding off any unwanted finger cuts!

Vineyard experience in Burgundy, Chablis, France

The grapes are of a very good quality this year, and we could taste the plentiful natural sugar present, thanks to the dry and sunny summer. Unfortunately for us, some rain had decided to join us too for the morning, but that didn't dampen our spirits any, and the buckets soon filled up!

A few brave volunteers took it in turns to act as porter. Their role was to walk up and down the rows, collecting the grapes from the pickers and putting them in the basket that they wore on their backs.

Adopt a vine in France, wine lovers, Chablis

Once the baskets were filled, the porters then carried their load to the waiting trailer, climbed a ladder, and emptied the load over their shoulder, trying not to fall in with it!

Wine experience gifts in France, Burgundy

At the end of the morning we headed over to the Boissonneuse vineyard to have a look at our adopted vines, giving us the opportunity to take a few more photos!

Rent a vine in France, Gourmet Odyssey recipient

On the way back to the winery, we stopped to have a look at where the grapes are then emptied into the presses, before cleaning the buckets, and cleaning ourselves up.

Wine tasting gift for wine lovers in France, Chablis

Anne-Laure, from the Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard team had prepared some wines for us to taste, which were most welcome after our mornings effort! We started with a Petit Chablis "Les Plantes" 2012 and a Chablis "Sainte Claire" 2014. We then tasted the 2012 vintage of the Chablis wine chosen for our Wine Experience, La Boisssonneuse, and then finished with a Chablis "Côte de Lechet" Premier Cru 2012, before heading upstairs for lunch, where we also tasted an Irancy red wine produced by the winery.

Unique wine gift, organic wine in France

In the afternoon, we caught up with Julien Brocard, who has taken over the running of the winery from his father. Julien showed us how the grapes are pressed, and told us about how the wine will evolve during the fermentation process and how it will be worked. It was also the opportunity to talk a little about his reasoning for working much of the winery biodynamically.

Original wine gift in Burgundy

We then visited the large fermentation hall, where the winery's top wines are worked and aged in oak casks and some in concrete eggs.

Personalised wine gift in France,Chablis

The day ended with a final tasting session. We first tasted the grape juice that had been freshly pressed from our harvest. We then compared it to some juice that had already started the fermentation process and fizzed a little. This juice is now known as bourru.

Personalised bottles of wine, unique gift in France

Many thanks to all of our apprentice harvesters for their hard work, and to the team at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard for welcoming us. We look forward to seeing how the 2015 vintage has evolved during the Vinification Experience Days next year.

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 again for this lovely day and the photos that you sent us, which are a great reminder of the day. The organisation was perfect and we particularly appreciated the kindness of Anne-Laure and the team at the winery.

    Good luck with the rest of the harvest!

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

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