“This year’s harvest was a lot of hard work… but a lot of fun.”
Though this season has been fraught and tense with many challenges, the quality of the grapes and the fun observed during the harvest buoyed everyone’s spirits. Here's our 10 favorite moments...
Sunrise in Clos Marey-Monge
Harvest 2016 starts less with a bang and more with a yawn. Emmanuel requested that his Vineyard team, and the pickers and the sorters, turn up at the Château for 7am sharp to watch sunrise over the Clos. Our winemaker traditionally gives the vineyard and cuverie workers a rousing speech as the sun comes up to make the most of the daylight as well as prepare them for the back-breaking work of picking more than five million grapes over the next seven days.
Pickers and Sorters
A team of more than 30 pickers stand out like technicolour thumbs among the sea of green vines. Emmanuel chooses the plot to be picked the night before, based on all the right conditions and tasting the grapes to make sure they have reached that sweet-spot of maturity, and the healthy grapes from each parcel are picked in its entirety before selecting the next plot. In this picture, the 1.29ha Micault plot, the vines immediately in front of Château Micault, were ripe for the picking on the second day of the harvest.
A Celebration in Clos Marey-Monge
Harvest 2016 is Emmanuel Sala’s tenth vendanges at Château de Pommard. We stopped to celebrate for a couple of minutes, raised a glass in salute of Mr Sala, but then Emmanuel put us back to work. It was lovely to see him cheerful, if chaotic, during what usually can be a winemaker’s most stressful period.
It’s not all work among the vines. The grape pickers had time to stop and breathe in the beauty of Clos Marey-Monge and have a little bit of fun, especially at lunchtime when wine from the Clos was served. As one of the pickers said, “If the pickers are happy, the grapes are happy – and that makes the wine happy!” We couldn’t agree more.
Thirty Years of Harvest
Harvest 2016 was an extra-special year. Not just for us, but for two of our pickers. This was their 30th year in a row that they have been picking grapes in Clos Marey-Monge. Ladies, thank you! We doth our caps to you both. See you next year!
The Sorting Table
Harvest isn’t just about picking grapes. We have to sort them out too. This happened on our vibrating Sorting Table, as managed by Yoon for the whole harvest. Grapes not fit for the wine are removed from the table, sending only grapes of optimal maturity towards the destemming machine, and ultimately, into the stainless steel fermentation vats.
The First Harvest Experience
Our inaugural Harvest Experience was a massive success over the weekend. Twenty wine lovers, from China, US and UK, joined us and got their hands dirty among the vines picking grapes, enjoyed a first super-sweet tasting from the vats and an exclusive walk-and-talk around the cuverie with Emmanuel. Next year, we have plans to make it even better.
Team Photo Among the Vines
On the final day of Harvest, our photographer Gerard organized a staff photo in the Chantrerie plot with the whole team, including vineyard staff, sales staff and the executives. Every year, all staff are required to don a Harvest t-shirt and venture into the vines for one day of picking. Most of them are happy about it as you can see from the photograph.
Into the Vats
After the rigorous inspection on the Sorting Table by Yoon and her team, the grapes from each individual plot are finally transported into their respective stainless steel fermentation vats. They’ll stay for a few weeks. We like to keep the grapes whole for as long as possible, so we won’t disturb them too much for the first week.
Punching Down, Pressing Over
One of the first, and most fun, processes that occurs quite soon after Harvest – two weeks or so – is the punching down and pressing over of the grapes in their vats. For punching down, this requires Yoon or Samuel to gently slide into the vats, in their underwear, and circulate the grapes with their feet. For pressing over, the juices from the bottom of the vat are sprayed over the top. If it looks fun, it’s because it is!
Next up: The Fermentation Process...