How Winemakers Prepare For Harvest
Harvest is one of the most exciting times of the year. After months of prepping, pruning, and preparing, these few weeks finally bring the fruit (literally) of hardworking vignerons’ labor to life. However, les vendanges isn’t always easy. Backbreaking work, weather threats, and copious amounts of stress are definitely part of the package. Here’s how a few of our winemakers get ready for this exciting yet demanding time.
“It’s not easy!” exclaims Avize-based Etienne Calsac. “We get everything ready by tasting a lot of grapes and looking for phenolic maturity in the vineyard.” Calsac notes that harvest preparation includes a large amount of cleaning in the winery, including barrels and tanks.
Elsewhere in Champagne, Stéphane Regnault finds harvest prep relatively easy. “For me, harvest preparation is rather simple,” he says. “I walk in the vines everyday and taste the berries, watch the evolution of the bunches, and feel the atmosphere of the vineyard.” In the cellar, Regnault (like Calsac) prepares by arranging and thoroughly cleaning his barrels.
Perhaps the most important preparation of them all? Simply slow down. “Above all, I take time to myself so as not to be stressed!” says Regnault. Additionally, Regnault takes time to visit neighboring winegrowers to discuss their plans for harvests, as well as what they’ve been seeing and tasting in their vineyards.
In Corsica, things are moving a bit slower. “In the vineyards, we are not doing much. We are mostly waiting for rain,” says Christophe Ferrandis of Clos Signadore. “The grapes are pretty, but it hasn’t rained for several weeks, and water is a good thing.”
At the winery, preparation is simple: clean, tidy up, and clean some more. Mentally, the period can be taxing. “In my head, it’s a whirlwind,” reveals Christophe. “Start east or west? Will the rain come? How will the new team of harvesters be?” However, despite the unrest, it’s still an extraordinary moment. “This is my favorite time of year. It’s the most intense, the most delicate, and the most magical all at once,” says Christophe.
For Marc Soyard, the 2020 harvest is particularly unique. “When I saw the vines this year, I wasn’t motivated to make wine this year,” he reveals. “The drought did not spare me!” To prepare for harvest, Soyard visits his vines twice a week to sample fruit maturity. In the cellar, he also does plenty of cleaning, which includes disinfecting his wooden vats with steam.
Despite his disappointment and small quantities of fruit, Soyard will vinify the fruit that he sees fit. However, harvest will not prove to be the most exciting moment of his life this particular year. “The main thing in my life this year is that I am having a daughter in November, so I’ve been taking care of my wife,” reveals Soyard. An exciting time to say the least!