Adopt a Vine and Make Your Own Wine

with the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

Visit www.gourmetodyssey.com for more information

Tagged articles : Experience

Get involved in the grape harvest in an organic French vineyard.


The harvest is the crucial time of year when the winemaker’s work throughout the year comes to fruition.

The date of the harvest depends on many factors; the weather, the grape varietal, the type of wine, but it fundamentally comes down to the maturity of the grapes, and finding that perfect balance between sugar and acidity.  The winemaker will then choose the optimum moment to harvest the grapes and make the wine to the desired taste.

Gourmet Odyssey offers Harvest Experience Days where you can get involved in the harvest at one of our 6 organic partner wineries.  The aim is to participate in and learn from the winemaker about the process to harvest the grapes through to putting them in the fermentation tanks.

Armed with a pair of secateurs and a bucket, the winemaker will show you how to cut the bunches and to select the best grapes.  Once you’ve finished the harvest, you’ll follow their journey back to the chai.

Harvest you own french vines

You’ll also enjoy a wine tasting session, because after the effort, the just reward!  And then you will sit down to the harvesters’ lunch, accompanied by a selection of wines, where you can talk with the winemakers and learn more about how they work organically and the challenges in doing so.  It’s a very privileged moment!

Then discover the work in the cellar during harvest time.  You’ll get involved in sorting the grapes and putting them into the vats, where you’ll learn about the fermentation process.  The day will be over before you know it, but you’ll be much wiser about all of the work and effort that goes into harvesting and making wine.

Perfect original gift for a wine lover

The little extra? Each Harvest Experience Day is valid for two people!  And what’s more, when you buy a Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience, you also have some adopted vines included that you’ll get to meet when you go to the winery for the harvest.  You’ll follow the making of your wine, and will receive a bottle of wine for each adopted vine, using the grapes that you have helped to harvest.  So, are you ready to meet up for the harvest?

Discover more about the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience.

Add a comment

A day spent with the winemakers to learn about their work in the vineyard


We spent an excellent Discovery Experience Day at Château Cohola in the Côtes du Rhône village of Sablet.  Accompanied by the winemakers, Cheli and Jérôme Busato, we learnt a lot about their efforts in the vineyard to produce the best possible grapes, and we’ll be sure to better appreciate the bottles of wine that we open from now on!

Adaopt a vin in France

After the introductions to the winery, the winemakers, and the region’s wines, we headed straight out into the vineyard.  Our first stop was to visit our adopted vines!  Thanks to a small blackboard, we were able to find and introduce ourselves to our micro-plots of vines and take a few souvenir photos.

Cheli and Jérôme explained the work that they had carried out in winter and the start of spring to prune and de-bud the vines in order to reduce the quantity of grapes produced by each vine with the aim of improving the quality.

Original gift for a wine lover

The winery is made up of 15 terraced vineyards, and Jérôme and Cheli showed us the different grape varietals and pruning methods that they use.  The vines had grown lots over the past few weeks, and we stopped in front of a plot of staked vines.

Next to each vine was a large wooden stake, or échalas, to which the vine was attached to help support the weight of the grapes and leaves.  Our mission was to take the tops of the branches, divide them in two, and weave them together with those from the neighbouring vines to form arches. The arches make the vines more stable, protecting them from the winds that often blow hard in this region, and give some more shade to the grapes to protect them from the sun.

Participating to the elaboaration of an organic cuvée

Jérôme and Cheli showed us how to create the arches, and then we spread out between the rows to have a go ourselves.  At first, we were scared of damaging the branches, but we quickly learnt that they are stronger than you think, and we started to advance more quickly!

We continued our stroll through the vineyards until we reached the highest point of the estate, where we stopped to admire the wonderful view overlooking the village of Sablet and the plains of the Rhone Valley below.  Jérôme enlightened us as to how they work organically and the challenges of doing so, and he explained the work that remains to be done between now and the harvest.

Discover the winemaker job

Aperitif time had arrived, and so we made our way down to the village and met up in a local restaurant for a nice fresh glass of 2022 Sablet rosé from the winery which has the peculiarity of being a blend of press and bled rosé wines.

With the aubergine papeton starter, Cheli served us their 2022 Sablet Cuvée Fruit, a light and fruity red wine that she had made specially for drinking chilled. Absolutely fantastic!  With the chicken Provencal main course, we tasted the 2019 vintage of the Sablet wine that has been chosen for the clients of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience.

Participate in the summer work in an organic french vineyard

Cheli and Jérôme are also beekeepers, and so with the goat’s cheese, they honoured us by serving squares of honeycomb.  An unforgettable experience, accompanied by the excellent 2022 Sablet white wine.  And with the home-made cherry clafoutis dessert, we tasted the powerful TBF wine that had been aged in wood, clay, and steel cotenants.

Perfect gift idea for wine lover

After lunch, we went to the chai.  Jérôme showed us where the grapes will be received at harvest time and gave us a quick introduction to the work in ageing wine.  We’ll spend more time here in September during the Harvest Experience Day and in spring for the Vinification Experience Day.

Many thanks to Cheli and Jérôme for this fascinating day spent in this wonderfully relaxing spot. 

Add a comment

Learn from the winemaker about the work in the vineyard to nurture organic grapes in Burgundy


Since March, we have welcomed groups of wine lovers to Domaine Chapelle in the picturesque Burgundy village of Santenay for the Discovery Experience Days.  These hands-on Wine Experience Days aim to better understand the work of the winemaker in the vineyard to produce the best quality grapes for harvesting.

Wine Discovery Experience in Burgundy

After the welcome and briefing of the day’s programme, Jean-François Chapelle recounted the history of his family, his winery, and of Burgundy wines.

We then set out into the vineyard to meet our adopted vines, whisper them a few sweet words, and take some photographs to immortalise the moment!

Adopt a vine with Gourmet Odyssey

We were joined by Jean-François’ son, Simon, who has been managing the vines and vinification process since 2021.  Jean-François is progressively taking his retirement and passing on the reigns to Simon.

Simon explained the whole vegetative life cycle from pruning through to the harvest, and we quickly learnt that the work carried out in the vineyard demands lots of manual effort.

Pruning is done between January and April, before the branches are arced and attached to the bottom training wire to delay the moment when the buds burst, with the aim of reducing the risk of being impacted by any frosts.  The participants of the Discovery Experience days in March were able to witness the complexity of pruning!

Elaborate your own organic wine in France

The buds burst in the second half of April, and the vines started to grow the fruit-bearing branches for this new season.

In May, the main job was de-budding the vines, which involves removing any double shoots and unwanted branches to limit the quantity of grapes that each vine can produce.  It’s a job that demands dexterity and some thought, as the participants of the May Discovery Experience Day found out by de-budding some vines for themselves.  There is always the fear of damaging the vines or choosing the wrong branch to remove, but it’s only by doing that you really learn.

Discover the winemaker job during a day

The branches grew rapidly in May, and so we had to return to each vineyard plot to raise the training wires twice, finishing by trimming the tops of the vines to stop the branches from becoming too intertwined.  Raising the training wires was the task we were set for the Discovery Experience Days in June and July.

Original gift for a wine lover

Domaine Chapelle has been adhering to the organic charter for 15 years now, working the soil mechanically and only using treatments permitted in organic agriculture.  We spent quite a bit of time discussing how to work they work organically at the vineyard and the challenges of doing so.

Learn all the work behind a bottle of wine

After these great mornings spent in the vineyard, we returned to the winery for a nice glass of fresh Santenay white wine, accompanied by the famous Burgundy gougères.  We then sat down to lunch with three food and wine parings: the fish terrine starter served with a Burgundy Aligoté, the Gaston Gérard chicken main course paired with the Clos des Cornières Santenay red wine, and the chocolate and blackcurrant dessert accompanied by a Santenay Premier Cru.

Discover how to make organic wine in Burgundy

Depending on the weather, in the afternoon, we went for a walk through the vineyards to see the different terroir and/or we visited the cellar to have a glimpse of what we’ll cover in much more detail during the Vinification Experience Days next spring.

But the next rendez-vous is to meet up for the Harvest Experience Days in September to harvest the grapes from our vines!

Add a comment

Wine gift experience to discover the work in an organic vineyard in Saint-Emilion


The Gourmet Odyssey Wine Discovery Days at Château Coutet in Saint-Emilion are a great way to immerse yourself in the life of a winemaker and learn about all of the work that goes on in the vineyard.

We met up at the magnificent Château Coutet, a family-run winery, very close to the centre of this beautiful medieval town that is renowned throughout the world for the quality of its wine.  We were to spend the day with one of the winemaking owners, Alain David-Beaulieu.  The aim of the day was to discover the daily work of a winemaker.  The vines had already grown lots by the end of June, and we could already see the future grapes well formed on the vines.

Adopt organic vines in Saint-Emilion

After a quick tour of the estate and our adopted vines, Alain explained the different work that has been carried out in the vineyard since winter.  It all started with pruning the vines to control the quantity of grapes produced and to limit how much the vines spread.  Once the vines start to grow, the best fruit-bearing branches were selected, and any shoots that wouldn’t produce any grapes removed, so as to preserve the vines energy on producing better quality grapes.  Then came the raising of the training wires to keep the vines nicely aligned and supported between two wires.  This enables the tractors to continue to pass through the vine rows without hindrance or damaging the vines.

Alain had kept a little work back for us to do, and so after all the explanations, we got to experience firsthand what it’s like to work in a vineyard.

Dicover all the work behind a bottle of wine

Removing some of the leaves from the zone around the grapes is very important for the vines, as it improves the airflow, as they can bring dampness.  Spring was fairly wet and humid this year, increasing the risk of fungi such as mildew forming which can quickly destroy the work of a whole season by drying out the future grapes, which then can’t be used to make wine.

After having a go for ourselves, we soon learned that it’s a physical job, especially so if it’s done for many days and even weeks in a row!  Producing quality grapes demands a lot of effort!

But after the effort, the just reward!  We all ate a lovely meal together and delighted our taste buds with the wines from the estate under the shade of the tress in the garden.

Elaborate you own cuvée

In the afternoon, we visited the chai and talked more about the challenges of working organically.  We finished the day with a visit of the family cellar where the old vintage wines are stored!

This immersive day proved to be very interesting and we thank Alain warmly for his welcome.  We can’t wait to come back for the Harvest Experience Days in September!

Add a comment

Discover the work of an organic winemaker in the vineyard


In May and June, we visited Château de Jonquières, a magnificent family-run winery in the Terrasses du Larzac wine-growing region, to spend a couple of Discovery Experience Days with the winemakers, Charlotte and Clément de Béarn.  The aim of these Wine Experience days is to learn about all the work that goes on in an organically certified vineyard.

Adopt an organic vine in the south of France

We were welcomed by Gaël, the Gourmet Odyssey wine specialist, and the winemakers who gave us an introduction to the château and its history that has been passed down through 32 generations.

The days were focused mainly on the work in the vineyard, but we had to be flexible in May to avoid the showers.  Charlotte and Clément were all smiles to see the rain because the winter had been very dry and the vines were desperately in need of water. Clément assured us that there would be enough dry patches to be able to do some work in the vineyard, and he was right!

Once in the vineyard, Charlotte and Clément explained the work that had been done during the winter and early spring, most notably to prune the vines.  In spring the vines need lots of care to keep them healthy, and accompany them in preparing them for an optimal harvest.  The vines had already grown quickly, so there were two tasks awaiting our help.

Make your own organic French wine

First we raised the training wires in a couple of rows of Cinsault to trap the branches between them.  This helps the vines to support the weight of the grapes and foliage.

We also de-budded the vines by removing the young shoots that had sprouted from the vine trunks and might transport disease from the soil to the vines.  We also removed any double-buds in a plot of Carignan, leaving the best branches to bask in the sun and to have a better airflow around them so that they dry more quickly, again reducing the risk of disease.

Discover all the work in a vineyard during summer

After the effort, we were rewarded back at the château with a well earned aperitif and winemakers lunch.  Charlotte and Clément had selected 5 of their wines to accompany the delicious meal which had been prepared by a local chef, Aubin Vie.

Participe in the winemaker job during a day

The meal is always a lovely moment when the participants get to ask lots of questions to the winemakers about their life, daily routine, and the differences between the wines that we were tasting.

Wine experience day withe Gourmet Odyssey in the Languedoc

In the beginning of the afternoon, we went on a little stroll to visit our adopted vines.  It’s a great spot, and the 70 odd year old Carignan vines that were planted by Charlotte’s grandmother are a sight to behold.

Disover the winemaker job during a day

The days finished in the chai where Clement enlightened us a little to his universe and the tools he uses to receive the grapes at harvest time.  We’ll see all of that in action when we return to the winery in September for the Harvest Experience Day!

Add a comment

A day in the vineyard with the winemakers


We spent a great day in Alsace at Domaine Stentz-Buecher for a Gourmet Odyssey Discovery Experience Day.  These hands-on wine experience days at the winery enable wine lovers to discover all the work that goes on in the vineyard needed to make a great wine.

perfect gift for a wine lover

We were welcomed by Céline and Stéphane, the winemakers at Domaine Stentz-Buecher.  After the introductions, we headed straight out and made our way to the Rosenberg vineyard, where our adopted vines are located.

A little surprise was waiting for us!  A nameplate had been put in front of our adopted vines, and so we set out to acquaint ourselves with them, and take a few photos to immortalise the moment!

Discover the winemaker job during a day

To make good wine, you need good ingredients, and the choices that the winemakers take and the quality of the work in the vineyard will have a big impact on the quality of the grapes at harvest time.   The weather also plays its part of course, but let’s stay focused on the factors we can control!

Stéphane and Céline explained the work that has been done since the last harvest, notably to prune the vines and attach the selected branches to the training wire.

Elaborate your own french wine

The flowering period went well in early June, and now the vines are in full growth mode to form the grape bunches and grow the leaves needed to ripen them through photosynthesis.  There’s lots of work to be done and so our help was very welcome!

Be a winemaker during a day in Alsace

Our first task was to train the vines onto the trellis system.  When the branches grow, they fall into the middle of the row, and sometimes to the ground.  Without any intervention, two big problems are quickly encountered.  Firstly, the tractor won’t be able to pass down the row to treat and work the vines without breaking the branches.  And secondly, the risk of spreading disease from one row to another, or from the ground, is increased. 

Gift idea for wine lover

Stéphane showed us how to raise the branches and place them between the training wires of the trellis system.  Then in pairs, we spread out to start our newfound profession of being a winemaker!  At first we were a little hesitant, so as not to damage or break any of the branches, but we quickly understood that the branches are much more robust that you would think!

Stéphane also asked us to de-bud the vines as we went down the rows if we saw any shoots that had sprouted from the lower trunk of the vines.  These shoots won’t produce any grapes, so it’s best to remove them to concentrate the vine’s energy on the fruit-bearing branches.

Learn how to produce wine

When we arrived at the end of the row, it was with great satisfaction that we turned around to admire our work!

On our way back to the winery, Céline showed us a plot of young vines that had just been planted.  She explained how important it is to plan ahead and coordinate the replanting schedule with the other plots to best manage the continuity of production across the winery, as you need to allow for a good ten years from the moment you pull up the old vines, to the moment that you can start harvesting grapes that begin to be of an interesting quality.

Discovery Experience Day in Alsace

Back at the winery, we went down into the cool of the cellar and gathered in the impressive wine library where the old vintage wines are stored. And yes, it’s not just red wines that you can conserve!

Céline had prepared a great wine tasting session to reward us after our morning’s effort, starting with the fresh and crisp 2019 Muscat Rosenberg.  We then tasted the very aromatic 2014 Riesling Tannenbuehl cuvée Flavien, a wine that is already almost 9 years old and which can happily be kept for a fair few more years to come.  Next up was the 2021 Pinot Gris Rosenberg, the wine chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience, followed by the Brut Nature Crémant d’Alsace sparkling rosé wine to finish, accompanied by some savoury kouglof.

Taste organic french wine

We continued the wine tasting over lunch, the 2018 Who Am I? Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling blend pairing the baeackeofe, one of Alsace’s quintessential specialties.  With the local cheese board, we enjoyed the 2018 Pinot Noir Granit, and the 2019 Gewurztraminer Rosenberg with the blueberry tart.

Wine tasting in Alsace

After lunch, Stéphane detailed the work remaining to be done in the vineyard before the harvest, and how he will choose when the right time to harvest is.   We then retunred to the cellar to quickly visit the press, barrel room, and fermentation hall.  We’ll be spending more time in the cellar during the Harvest Experience Day to see how the grapes are received, and during the Vinification Experience Day to learn more about the work during the fermentation, ageing, and bottling phases.

Many thanks to Stéphane and Céline for sharing their passion for their profession with us. We can’t wait to come back for the harvest!

Add a comment

Wine Experience Gift to discover the work in the vineyard


In June, we welcomed two groups of wine lovers for a couple of Discovery Experience Days at Château de la Bonnelière in the beautiful Loire Valley town of Chinon.  Under a wonderful sunny sky, we learnt more about the work of a winemaker to produce great organic grapes!

Original gift for a wine lover

The coffee and introduction by the winemaker, Marc Plouzeau, were a little faster than normal because the heat was rising rapidly, and so we wanted to get out into the vineyard as early as possible.

A couple of weeks ago, we welcomed a first group to the Discovery Experience Day who raised the training wires up a notch.  This Saturday, it was already time to raise them up another notch.

The vines are growing exceptionally fast this year.  Marc explained that in certain conditions, the vines can grow 10 cm in a day!  The winemakers are in a race against time at the moment to control the growth.

Adopt a vine in France


Flowering happened between the end of May and beginning of June, producing lots of great grapes.  At the moment the vines are making lots of leaves to feed the grapes.  They grow high, but as the vines are from the creeper family, the branches sag under their own weight, and become intertwined in the middle of the row, making it very difficult for the teams to work.

This is a scenario to be avoided because if it rains, as is this case with the fairly frequent storms at the moment, the moisture will remain in the bunched up branches, increasing the risk of mildew forming, which could compromise the harvest.

Discover the winemaker job during a day


Our little group therefore had a very important job to do!  Once we were each equipped with a sommelier’s apron, and our pockets stuffed with clips, we were ready to start raising the training wires.  

Learn more about winemaking with Gourmet Odyssey


Marc demonstrated what to do.  First, take the training wires in the middle, pull them apart and place the branches between them, raise and close them again, and attach them together using one of our small clips.

Perfect gift for wine lover


It’s a “simple” job, but a very important one for the quality of our future harvest. We all got stuck in, and did a couple of rows before taking a first well earned break, allowing us to start to talk about wine-making in general, working organically and biodynamically.  We then did a few more rows before enjoying the aperitif under the shade of the walnut trees.

Elaborate your own french cuvée


Lunch was served in the relative cool of the barn, accompanied by the wines from Château de la Bonnelière.  It recharged the batteries, but also made us yearn for a siesta.  For some reason, we weren’t quite as productive in the afternoon!

But we admit that to escape the 35 °C outside, we cooled off in the chai where we continued our conversation about the challenges and virtues of organic wine-making.  Marc has been making wine organically since he took over the running of the winery in the early 2000’s.  He has a long experience or working organically, and its impact on the vines and the wines that he makes.

Marc makes a few blended wines, but for the most part, his wines are left unblended to best reflect the diversity of terroir that his vineyards cover.  He also strives to find the best wine-making techniques to release the full potential of the grapes he harvests, but we can’t say too much, because that is what we will find out more about during the Vinification Experience Days!

We spent a couple of great Discovery Experience Days despite the crushing heat.  We look forward to meeting up again with some of you for the Harvest Experience Day!  

Add a comment

Surprise your Dad with some adopted vines for his Fatherís Day gift this year


There are many wine-loving Dad’s out there, but you can’t get him yet another work-screw or bottle of wine for his Father’s Day present!  How about adopting him his own organic vines in France?  A really original Father’s Day gift that’s bound to make its mark.
The Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience will get him immersed in the life of a winemaker.  Choose his favourite wine growing region from our 6 organic partner wineries in France and adopt his very own organic vines for a wine-making year.  The winemaker will send news of his adopted vines via the newsletters to follow their evolution and the key stages in making his wine.  Once his wine is bottled and labelled with his personalised labels, he’ll get to taste his delicious vintage that he’ll know all the secrets of!
 
We’ll send a welcome pack containing a vine adoption certificate, a brochure, and access to his own Customer Portal, as well as a few wine accessory gifts, so that you have something to give on the day.  And for the last-minute Father’s Day gifts, we can send the vine adoption certificate by email.
 
Adopt a vine in France during a vintage
 
The Wine Experience doesn’t stop there.  You can also choose to include one or more Wine Experience Days to your father’s present, so that he can meet and spend a day with the winemaker at the winery.  The originality of these Wine Experience Days is that they aren’t just simple winery tours.  You get to participate in the work in the vineyard or cellar alongside the winemaker who will explain all the key steps in making wine.
 
Wine gift for fathers day
 
There are three types of Wine Experience Day, it’s up to you to choose!  The little extra?  The Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience Days are valid for two people and include wine tasting and a full sit-down meal.
 
It’s a Father’s Day gift that he’ll be sure to remember and one that’s sure to please!

Add a comment

Learning how to de-bud vines in Saint-Emilion


May and June are very busy months in the vineyard.  Everything grows very quickly, and it’s a daily battle to keep on top of things.  To better understand first hand, we spent a day with the winemaker at Château Coutet for a Discovery Experience Day.  These hands-on wine experience days are designed to get involved in the work at the winery, and learn about all the work in the vineyard by the winemaker to produce the best grapes possible come harvest time.
Adrien, one of the owners and winemakers at the winery, welcomed us with a coffee and croissant.  Benoît, the Gourmet Odyssey win expert, introduced us to the programme of this great day that we would spend together in this beautiful Bordeaux winery.
 
We listened attentively as Adrien presented the history of his family’s tenure of the vineyards and winery at Château Coutet, which goes back over 400 years.  He is a very passionate winemaker, full of unusual and interesting stories regarding the region and his winery.
 
We headed out for a walk through the different terroir of the winery to better understand this prestigious wine appellation and the different grape varietals grown at Château Coutet, each with their own distinctive leaf. 
 
Adopt a vine in Bordeaux
For example, cabernet franc leaves close at the top to create a hole, whereas the malbec leaves are open with a u-shape at the top.
 
Wine experience in Saint-Emilion
At the top of the hill, we admired the magnificent view over the Dordogne valley, and started to learn about the work in the vineyard from pruning through to the work currently being carried out.  It’s a complicated job!
 
Learn the winemaker job during a day
The Gourmet Odyssey adopted vines are located close to where we were, also on Saint-Emilion’s limestone plateau, one of the best vineyards of the appellation.  We each found our adopted vines thanks to a slate nameplate that had been put in front.  We took a few minutes to take some photographs of our vines and the surrounding rolling vineyards.
 
Wine gift for wine lover
We then passed by the vineyard where the grapes are grown for the wonderful Demoiselle wine that we had the chance to taste at lunchtime.  It was then time to get down to some work, and see what being a winemaker is really like!  At the moment, the vines need to be de-budded to keep just the branches that are best positioned on the vines and those that will produce the fruit for the coming harvest.   It’s a long and difficult job, but one that is very important.
 
Wine experience in Saint-Emilion with Gourmet Odyssey
Back on the lawn in front of the château, we enjoyed a well earned aperitif of a lovely white wine made by Adrien’s cousin in the Entre-Deux-Mers wine-growing region, the Vertige wine from Château Le Grand Verdus.  We then sat down for lunch and continued the tasting with wines from the winery.  The 2020 Château Coutet was paired with the foie-gras starter, followed by the 2018 Demoiselles with the duck main course.  There is a complexity and length to this wine that admirably represents some of the mythical Saint-Emilion wines, and it’s one that will only get better with time.
 
Be a winemaker during a day with Gourmet Odyssey
After lunch, Adrien talked about the benefits and difficulties in nurturing the vines organically.  He also explained the work left to do in the vineyard between and now and the harvest, of which we’ll learn more about during the Gourmet Odyssey Harvest Experience Days.
 
Original gift for a wine lover
The day finished with a visit of the fermentation hall, which is one of the most rustic in Saint-Emilion, and the family cellar where the old vintage wines are stored, the oldest dating back to 1945!
 
Many thanks to Adrien for his passionate recounting of life at the winery and giving us a really interesting insight into his job as a winemaker.

Add a comment

Wine-making Experience courses in Burgundy to learn about the work in the cellar


In March and April, we welcomed some of the 2022 vintage Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience clients to Domaine Chapelle in Burgundy for some Vinification Experience Days.  Through these wine courses, the wine makers explain their work in the cellar to transform the grape juice into wine.  There are lots of decisions to take, and as the wine-maker Jean-François Chapelle says, to let the wine best express itself, sometimes it’s as important to choose which techniques not to use as those to use.

Jean-François told us about his family’s history, that of the winery, and the Burgundy wine-growing region.  He explained his reasons behind transforming the winery to being organic to preserve the soil and safeguard the people coming into contact with the vines, starting with himself, his family, and his team of staff.

Myriam, the Gourmet Odyssey oenologist then gave a detailed explanation of the senses used when tasting wines, particularly the aromas, and influences from ageing the wines in oak barrels. 

Adopt a vine in Burgundy

In the cellar building, we visited the rooms and saw the equipment used to make and age the wine.  Jean-François taught us about the work involved during the fermentation and maceration stages phases, and how he monitors the wines during the ageing stage.

Ageing the wine in oak barrels is crucial for the wines at Domaine Chapelle, improving the aromatic complexity and equilibrium on the palate.  The tiny pores in the wood allow micro-oxygenation to occur, making the tannins more refined and the wines smoother.  The wood will also helps the wine to develop aromas such as vanilla and coconut that are associated with oak, whilst the heating of the inside of the barrels will develop toasted and smoky aromas.

Perfect gift for a wine lover in France
 
We tasted two different barrels of the 2022 Santenay Les Gravières Premier Cru which is currently in the ageing process to understand the different impact that a new barrel and an old barrel has on the wine.  The new oak gave more depth and toasted notes, whereas the old oak gave wonderfully soft tannins, but less aromatically.  We also tasted a Santenay which was ageing in a vat to compare it against the wines aged in oak.
 
We ended the tasting workshop with a 2022 Clos des Cornières which Jean-François had blended together from different barrels to give us an insight into how this wine might be like at the end of the ageing process
 
Discover how to produce wine during a vintage

It was one o’clock before we knew it, and so time for a Burgundy aperitif of a Santenay white wine, accompanied by the famous gougères!

We then sat down to a delicious lunch of jambon persillé, Gasto Gérard chicken, and a three-chocolate dessert, accompanied by a 2021 Burgundy aligoté, a 2020 Santenay Clos des Cornières, and a 2019 Santenay Beaurepaire Premier Cru.

Create your own wine with Gourmet Odyssey

After lunch, we headed out into the vineyard to visit our adopted vines.  The pinot noir adopted vines for the clients having chosen the Santenay red wine are located in the Clos des Cornières vineyard, and the chardonnay adopted vines in the neighbouring Crays vineyard for the Santenay white wine clients.  

Discover the winemaker job during a day in Burgundy

Back at the winery, Jean-François ended the day by explaining how the wines are prepared for bottling, how they are then bottled, labelled, and sold.  Bottling is done at the winery using their own machine, as opposed to using an external company that come to the winery with their bottling truck, a common practice for smaller wineries.  Domaine Chapelle is lucky to have its own bottling line as it gives them much more flexibility in organising when to bottle the wines.

Adopt organic vines in Burgundy

Domaine Chapelle exports between only 20 and 30% of their production, compared to 80% on average for Burgundy.  The rest is sold directly to their clients so as to keep a link to their customers.

We all had an excellent day and learnt lots about the art of winemaking.  We look forward to welcoming you back soon to Domaine Chapelle or one of our other Gourmet Odyssey partner wineries for another wine experience day!

Add a comment

A Wine-Making Experience Day in the Cellar


The work in the cellar is the final phase in the cycle of wine-making, transforming the grapes into wine, and closely monitoring the wines through the fermentation and ageing phases until the wine is finally ready for bottling.  These were the topics we were to cover during the Vinification Experience Day with Stéphane and Céline, the winemakers at Domaine Stentz-Buecher in Alsace.

After the introductions, we headed out into the vineyard to meet our adopted vines and better appreciate the diverse terroir of the Alsace wine-growing region.  It is after all the starting point for making wine.

Adopt a vine in France

We took some photos with our adopted vines, and listened to Céline as she explained the work of the moment in the vineyard to prune and attach the branches that will produce this year’s fruit-bearing canes. This is probably the most fundamental way in which the winemaker can set the tone for the style of wine that they are trying to produce.  Céline pointed out the number of nodes left on each branch and the smaller arc of the vines compared to the majority of the neighbouring vineyard plots.  As we could see, Domaine Stentz-Buecher voluntarily reduces the number of fruit-bearing branches that each vine will produce, thus keeping the yield of grapes lower per vine.  This ensures grapes of a higher quality, and is one of the main reasons why their wines are more concentrated and aromatic than your average Alsace wine. 

Discover the winemaker job during a day in Alsace

We then followed the journey that the grapes had taken at harvest time back to the winery, where Stéphane explained the different ways that the red and white grapes are received.  Some of us had seen this first hand during the Harvest Experience Day last year. The white grapes pass through the press to extract the juice and separate it from the skin, stems and pips, whereas the red grapes are put whole into the vat to extract the colour and tannins from the skin during the maceration phase. 

Visit a amazing vinyard in Alsace and make your own wine

We had a quick look at the barrel room where the pinot noir grapes are aged.  Alsace pinot noir is becoming more and more critically acclaimed, and starting with the 2022 vintage, has finally been accepted as one of the grape varietals allowed to be considered for Grand Cru status within the Hengst vineyard.

Be a winemaker during a day with Gourmet Odyssey

The white wines ferment and are aged in stainless steel vats or large oak casks.  Stéphane explained all that happens and how he keeps track of the wines through the fermentation process.  He then drew some of the 2022 Pinot Gris Rosenberg directly from the cask for us to taste what a wine is like that hasn’t yet finished.  It was still a little cloudy, tingled a little on the tongue, and hadn’t yet developed all of its aromatic potential, but it was great to have the chance to taste a wine at this stage.

Learn how to taste wine during a Vinification Experience Day

Céline had organised a blind wine tasting session for us.  Before starting, we learnt the key steps in wine tasting and how we use all of our senses when doing so.  There were three wines in the first series, and our challenge was to describe what we thought of each wine and to name the aromas that we could identify.  It’s not always so easy to put words to our sensations!  We then tried to determine what the three different wines were.  Different grape varietals, different ages ...?  Lots of guesses were made, none of them correct!  They were in fact all the same grape varietal, riesling.  The difference was the type of soil.  The first wine was the Riesling Tradition which is made from grapes grown mainly down on the alluvial plain.  The next was the Riesling Ortel, from a clay limestone marl soil  , and the third wine the Riesling Steingrubler Grand Cru from a sandy clay marl soil on top of limestone and granite .  As we had noted, these three different terroirs produce greatly different wines in taste, aroma, and complexity, helping to also explain the different levels of wine in the Alsace hierarchy of AOC wines.
There were two wines in the next series.  This time they were of different grape varietals to show the difference between the more floral pinot blanc and the more honeyed and smoky pinot gris.

We continued the wine tasting over lunch of traditional Alsace specialities.  Kouglof, choucroute, local cheeses, and black forest gateau, were enjoyed with the 2018 Who Am I blend of pinot blanc, pinot gr is and riesling, the 2019 Gewurztraminer Rosenberg, and the 2019 Pinot Noir Tradition.

After lunch we returned to the cellar to learn about the work for bottling and labelling.  Stéphane showed us the filters used to clarify the wines and remove the last of the lees.  We learnt the different choices available for corks and their alternatives, and saw the machines used for bottling and labelling.

Adopt some vines with Gourmet Odyssey

Séphane also explained how the Crémant d’Alsace sparkling wine is made, and he showed us the rotating crate used to collect all of the deposit in the neck of the bottles.

The day finished in the wine library  , where a selection of wines are further aged in the bottles before being sold as old vintage wines. It was a very informative day, and we can’t wait to taste our 2022 Pinot Gris Rosenberg wine again when it is ready sometime around the end of the year!

Add a comment

Wine blending Experience Day in the Cotes du Rhone


We spent a fascinating day last Saturday in the Cotes du Rhone wine growing region at Château Cohola.  We were in Sablet to discover all of the work in the cellar from the harvest through to the time when the wine is ready for bottling and labelling.

The day started with a quick visit to the vineyard to meet our adopted vines and take a few photos to immortalise the moment!  It was also a good occasion to remember that the wine made can only be as good as the grapes grown in the vineyard.  With the idyllic location of the vines, high up on the terrace, overlooking the Rhone Valley plain below, our vines certainly looked to be very happy!

Gift idea for a wine lover

We then headed to the chai, following the journey that the grapes take at harvest time.  Quentin and Jeff from Château Cohola explained how the grapes go through the de-stemming machine to remove the grapes from the stalks and are then put into vats to start the fermentation process.

There are two fermentation processes that take place.  The first transforms the sugar from the grapes into alcohol using the yeast that is found naturally in the picked grapes.  The second is the malolactic fermentation that changes the malic acid into lactic acid, softening the wines and giving them more depth.  Quentin also explained how the colour and tannins are extracted from the grape skins during the maceration phase.

Adopt a vine in Cote du Rhone, France

Once the fermentation has finished, the wines start the ageing period, and so we went through to the barrel room.  Most of the wine is aged in large 650 litre oak barrels, but some of the wine is also aged in stainless steel barrels, and earthenware jars.  Quentin explained the virtues of each, and the impact that they have on the wine.  We even got to taste some of the wine direct from the barrel.

Meet Winemakers during an entire day and discover their job

The syrah wine that was ageing in one of the stainless-steel vats needed to be racked to separate the wine from the lees.  Jeff had set up the pump and tubes to do so, and so we watched as he drew off the wine and pumped it into a second stainless steel barrel.

Unique wine experience with Gourmet Odyssey

Once the first barrel was empty, Jeff opened it, so that we could take a look at the lees, and some of us even tasted them!

Perfect gift for a wine experience in France

We then headed to the tasting room, where Mark explained the principles of wine tasting, and how to use all our senses to taste and compare the different wines that had been prepared for us.  We started by blind tasting two wines, and then taking the time to compare their characteristics before having the difference between them revealed.

We then compared two different grenache syrah blends that Quentin prepared for us to see how a wine changes if it is dominated by grenache or syrah, before comparing the same wine that had been aged in a stainless-steel vat and one that had been aged in an oak barrel.  As we were to learn, there are many different options and decisions to take for the winemaker.

Exclusive wine tasting at Château Cohola

After all this wine tasting, we were starting to feel a little hungry, so the delicious lunch prepared by one of the local restaurants was very welcome.  For the aperitif, we tasted the 2021 Château Cohola Sablet rosé, following up with 2021 Cuvée Fruit with the caillette starter.  We paired the 2018 Château Cohola Sablet red with the main course of daube provençale, and the 2022 Château Cohola Sablet white without added sulphites with the goat’s cheese, and square of honeycomb from the winery’s bees.  The meal ended with a mirabelle tart, accompanied by the Château Cohola TBF red wine.

Learn how to make wine during a day

After lunch we returned to the winery to learn about the last stage in the wine-making process, covering topics such as bottling, labelling, and the different options available when choosing corks. 

Visit and discover a wine cellar with Gourmet Odyssey

And so the day drew to a close.  As we had also learnt during the Discovery Experience and Harvest Experience Days, winemaking is a wonderfully diverse profession, and we left invigorated by the passion that the team at Château Cohola exude.  We can’t wait to come back again!

Add a comment

Adopt some organic vines for your Saint Valentine gift and share an unforgettable experience for two


Are you looking for an original Saint Valentine’s gift for a wine lover? Adopt-a-vine with Gourmet Odyssey for a wine-making year in one of our 6 award-winning wineries in France, all of whom are organically certified.

Gift idea for a wine lover
The Saint Valentine’s Wine Experience gift starts with the reception of a welcome pack and access to your Customer Portal to read the newsletters from the winemakers to understand how your wine is made, from the work in the vineyard, through the harvest, and the work in the cellar until the wine is ready for bottling.  You can personalise the labels at the end of the experience, and you’ll receive a bottle of wine for each of your adopted vines.   
Offer organic vine to your Valentine


To go even further, you can add one or more Wine Experience Days to your St Valentine’s vine adoption gift.  These hands-on wine courses are the perfect excuse to get away for a weekend break, meet your adopted vines, and become an apprentice winemaker for the day.

Each day is valid for two people and includes lunch and wine tasting.  The days take place at the weekend, last from 09:30 to 16:00, and are participative, working alongside the winemakers who accompany you all day to share all their secrets.

Wine course with your Valentine


Gourmet Odyssey offers three types of Wine Experience Day:
•    The Discovery Experience Day is focused on understanding the work in the vineyard to learn how to produce the best organic grapes possible.
•    The Harvest Experience Day gets you involved in picking the grapes and following their journey into the fermentation tank.
•    The Vinification Experience Day concentrates on the work in the cellar and the choices the winemaker takes to age, blend and bottle the wines.

If you are not sure which winery or type of Wine Experience Day to choose to give to your valentine, rest assured that the Wine Experiences are flexible and can be changed.

More information on our Adopt-a-Vine St Valentine’s gifts.

 

Add a comment

What Christmas gift to give a wine lover?


Give some bottles of wine, a wine subscription, or corkscrew to a wine lover for Christmas?  Not bad, but here’s a more original Christmas wine gift idea…  Adopt some vines in an organic award-winning French vineyard and you can be sure that you’ll be giving a great Christmas present that will be remembered for years to come!
 
Participate in the elaboration of your own wine with Gourmet Odyssey
Gourmet Odyssey enables you to get behind the scenes for a wine-making year and discover all the hard work and skill that goes into making wine.  Choose one of our organic partner vineyards located in the main wine-growing regions of France, adopt your vines, and let the adventure begin.
 
Meet your own wine and the winemaker and learn how to make wine
 
We’ll send your vine adoption certificate and welcome pack to begin the experience.  Follow the making of your wine via the newsletters and receive your bottles of wine made using the grapes from your adopted vines.  You even get to choose the name of your wine for your personalised bottles!  You can also choose to include up to three wine experience days where you get to visit the winery, spend the day with the winemaker, and get involved in the work in the vineyard and cellar.
 
What makes the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience so special?

  •  All of the wineries are organically certified and carefully chosen for the quality of their wines
  • The Wine Experience days last the whole day from 09:30 to 16:00, are valid for two people, and include lunch and wine-tasting
  • It’s the winemakers themselves that welcome you to the winery to share their passion during the day, accompanied by a Gourmet Odyssey wine expert
  • You have the choice of up to three Wine Experience days at the winery:
The Discovery Experience Day to learn about all the work in the vineyard to produce the best grapes and the challenges of working organically
The Harvest Experience Day to participate in the harvest of the grapes and discover the work in the cellar at harvest time to put the grapes into the vats
The Vinification Experience Day to better appreciate the winemakers’ choices in ageing, blending, and preparing the wines for bottling
The Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience is a unique and convivial Christmas present that is informative, fun, and sure to please all wine lovers! 
 
But don’t just take our word for it.  Here is some feedback from some of our customers:
 
Huge thanks for this harvest day at Chateau Cohola. Cyril and I really enjoyed ourselves. Cheli and Jerome were adorable and passionate about what they do. The organisation was top and fun thanks to Maeliss and Mark. The wine was very good and there was a really good vibe. Many thanks again! (Harvest Experience Day at Château Cohola, September 2022)
Elodie & Cyril
 
Thanks for sharing your passion for wine at Domaine Stentz-Buecher.  The Vinification Experience Day with the adoption of your own vines is unique and original.  I spent a really interesting day with people who really love wine.  The day is very well organised with the discovery of our adopted vines, and the explanations from Stéphane in the cellar as to how he makes the wine.  I also appreciated the wine-tasting lesson to learn how to taste the wines and recognise the different types of aromas.
Thank you for this excellent day that I’ll remember fondly for a long time to come. (Vinification Experience Day at Domaine Stentz-Buecher, March 2022)
Laurent
 
We really appreciated and loved this day in the vineyard at Château de la Bonnelière.  It was absolutely fascinating, we were warmly welcomed by everyone, and the wine tasting and meal were both excellent too.
I got to realise how much technical knowledge is required, and also the artistry and continual attention that each vine needs.  Thank you so much! (Discovery Experience Day at Château de la Bonnelière, June 2022)
Anne

Add a comment

Participate in harvesting the grapes in a Saint-Emilion Grand Cru vineyard


We spent another great couple of Harvest Experience Days in Saint-Emilion at Château Coutet.  We were warmly welcomed by Alain and Matthieu, the father and son wine-makers at this family run winery who taught us how to harvest the grapes as we followed their journey during the course of the day from the vines and into the vats.  As we were to learn, there is much more to harvesting than just picking grapes!

Gift for wine lover with Gourmet Odyssey

After the introductions, we headed straight out into the vineyard, climbing the hillside to reach the famed Saint-Emilion limestone plateau, where the best plots are located, including the Peycocut vineyard, home to the Gourmet Odyssey adopted vines.  We took a few minutes to each find our micro-plot of vines, take a few photos and admire the lovely scenery of sloping vineyards, châteaux and the church spire of Saint-Emilion.

Adopt a vine with Gourmet Odyssey in Bordeaux

We then made our way to the plot of vines to be harvested.  Here we were each given a basket and pair of secateurs and listened to the instructions of which grapes to pick, which ones to leave, and how to cut the bunches safely without cutting our fingers!

 

In pairs, we spread out among the rows, and started to harvest the grapes!  The grapes this year were of excellent quality, so our job was made much easier.  There was very little to sort, and virtually all of the grapes were for picking. 

 

Experience day gift in Saint Emilion

Once our baskets were full, we emptied them into larger crates which were then taken back to the beginning of the row.  It’s important not to squash the grapes at this stage, and the crates ensure that they don’t get crushed from the weight of the grapes above them.

 

Harvest day with Gourmet Odyssey in Bordeaux

Once we had filled all of the crates, we loaded them onto the trailer to be taken back to the winery and placed in the shade.  We followed behind and stopped in the garden in front of the chateau for a well earned glass of wine!

 

Adopt a Vine for a winelover
 
We then sat down to a delicious lunch of salade vigneronne, guinea fowl with a morille and foie gras sauce, and chocolate praline dessert, enjoying the 2019 Château Coutet and 2018 Les Demoiselles Saint-Emilion Grand Cru wines at the same time . 

 

In the afternoon, our mission was to put our harvested grapes into a vat.  First we had to separate the grape berries from the stems.  This is normally done by a de-stemming machine, but at Château Coutet, the grapes from the best plots are done by hand, including the ones that we had picked.  In fours, we gathered around some tables and removed each of the grapes by hand, placing them in a separate basket, and throwing the stems away in a bin.  The stems will then be spread in the vineyards to return some nutrients to the soil.  It also gave us the opportunity to remove any dried-up grapes or leaves that might have inadvertently made their way into the baskets.

 

organic harvest experience with gourmet Odyssey

The full baskets of grape berries were then emptied into a large bucket, and we then lightly crushed them using a wooden post to break the skins and release some of the juice.  Theses grapes were then emptied into a vat, where they will begin the fermentation process in a couple of days time once the yeast cells naturally present on the grape skins come to life and start to transform the sugar into alcohol.

 

Wine experience gift in Saint Emilion

Alain and Matthieu showed us the de-stemming machine and sorting table used for the majority of the grapes at the winery, explaining how they work and how the grapes are then pumped into one of the vats.
We then learnt about the work during the fermentation and maceration phases to monitor the transformation of sugar into alcohol, and to extract the colour and tannins from the grape skins.  At Château Coutet the extraction is done mainly by drawing the juice from the bottom of the vat and pumping it back into the top to filter down through the cap of skin and pips that has been pushed to the surface by the carbon dioxide released during fermentation.

 

Follow a winemaker during a day with Gourmet Odyssey

Alain and Matthieu will be kept busy over the next 3 to four weeks tracking and managing each of the vats until the fermentation has finished and the wine is ready to be transferred to the barrels.

 

We look forward to learning more about this work, and the rest of the wine-making process to age, blend, and prepare the wine for bottling during the Vinification Experience Days next year.

 

Add a comment

Harvester for a day in the Terrasses du Larzac wine-growing region



We spent two great Harvest Experience Days on the 3rd and 10th September at Château de Jonquières, a magnificent family-run winery in the Terrasses du Larzac wine-growing region of Languedoc in the south of France.  We were there with some clients of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience who had come to get involved in harvesting the grapes and learn about how the grapes are turned into wine during the fermentation and maceration phases.

Charlotte and Clément, the young wine-making couple, are the 32nd generation of winemakers at the winery, welcomed us in the courtyard of the château over coffee.  Smiles beamed from each of their faces, which maybe hid a little bit of stress that this crucial period of harvesting in the wine-making year inevitably brings!

Equipped with buckets and secateurs, Charlotte explained how to harvest the grapes.

After a quick explanation of the winery’s history, the Terrasses du Larzac wine-growing region, a recap of the 2022 vintage so far, and an overview of the day’s agenda, we were equipped with a bucket and pair of secateurs.  We then made our way through the vineyards to a nearby plot of Syrah vines.  It’s important to pick the grapes early in the morning to preserve their full potential.

As we walked to the vines, Clément followed by tractor, pulling a trailer into which we would delicately put our harvest.
We were taught how to pick the precious grapes without damaging them or harming ourselves!  Sometimes we had to remove some of the leaves in front of the bunches to be able to get to the grapes more easily.

Getting involved in picking the grapes

The harvest was generous and of great quality this year despite the very hot spring and summer.  The vines were able to adapt to the climate and responded well to the treatment and care of the winemakers throughout the year.  Some of our apprentice winemakers had learnt this first-hand during the Discovery Experience Days earlier in the year.
Once the buckets were full, we emptied them into the trailer.

We emptied our grapes into the trailer

 In didn’t take us long to realise that it’s a fairly difficult job.  The positions we find ourselves in to pick the grapes can be uncomfortable at times, some rows are more abundant than others, and some harvesters are quicker than others...  But the groups remained supportive of one another and we had lots of fun.  In just over two hours, we had harvested the plot and had become real harvesters!

We had a quick refreshment break until Charlotte informed us that Clément was already ready to put out harvest into the vat.

We didn’t have any time to lose, and so we brought our precious gaped back to the winery to put them into the vat, but we had one last little job to do before then.  We set about cleaning the buckets and secateurs with water so that they were nice and clean for the next day, and once again the team spirit shone through!

Cleaning the buckets

  Clément carefully positioned the crates of grapes in front of the chai to then put them into the de-stemming machine.

This is in some ways the first step in making wine, and involves separating the grapes from the stems and any leaves that may have inadvertently fallen into one of the buckets.  This avoids the wine from developing a bitter taste.

Once the grapes are freed from their stems, they are put into a stainless steel vat to start the fermentation process.  
Charlotte then explained the differences in the process for white, red and rosé wines.  For example, the red wines are kept in contact with the skins during the fermentation and maceration phase which lasts around 20 days, whereas the white grapes are immediately pressed before the fermentation phase starts to separate them from their skins.   

Charlotte explains the work in the chai during the harvest.

 

 We tasted some of the grape musts that had been fermenting for 10 days, and Charlotte suggested that we put our ears to the vats to listen to the effervescence of the fermentation.

It was then time for lunch, and so we made our way back into the shade of the courtyard to taste 5 of the winery’s organic wines over lunch which had been prepared by a local caterer.  We took the opportunity to ask the winemakers lots of questions about a wide range of topics such as their way of life, their philosophy of being organic, and the differences between the wine that we had tasted.

Our adopted organic vines

  After lunch, we went to visit our adopted vines.  After a short walk through the village of Jonquières, we arrived at the vineyard where our vines are located, and spent a few minutes metting our vines, and taking some photos of them.

We then returned to the chateau to bring the day to a conclusion, and collect a few bottles of wine to take home with us and share with friends and family.

We look forward to welcoming you back to the winery next year for one of the Vinification Experience Days!

Add a comment

Share |
RSS

About the blog

The Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

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

From € 169 154

Tags

Adopt-a-Vine Biodynamic Blending Burgundy Cellar Experience Fermentation Gift Grapes Harvest Making Organic Tasting Vine Vines Vineyard Vinification Wine Winemaker Winery

All Tags

Categories

Archive

Last Comments

Links