This morning, for the last day of the harvest, the sky was thick with low clouds and it was cold – just 8°C (46°F). Rain showers alternated with the sun, which kept trying to peek out from behind the gray clouds...
Day 18 Thursday – 14 September 2017
This morning, the Côte de Nuits team finished off our last two plots Gevrey-Chambertin Les Evocelles, the oldest and most northerly ones. The weather was awful, with torrential rain, but fortunately not enough to spoil the grapes.
Day 17 Wednesday 13 September 2017
We approached the end of the 2017 harvest today, under a leaden, rainy sky. For the past two days, it’s been very chilly in the morning in the vines. The weather is so important for those who stoop low in the rows of vines to gather the fruit of a year of hard work – itself also very dependent on the weather...
Day 16 – Tuesday 12 September 2017
The scent of fermentation wafts through the air, announcing the end of the work in the vines, while in the winery and the cellars it’s a different story altogether.
Day 15 – Monday 11 September 2017
With two weeks of harvesting already behind us, we are attacking a third in chilly sunshine, on a second “fruit” day in the lunar calendar. We can’t wait to have all the grapes in, because the fermentations are coming to an end and de-vatting awaits.
Days 13 and 14 – Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 September 2017
Saturday. As Hurricane Irma leaves a trail of destruction in Saint Barth and Saint Martin some 4,000 miles away, the thoughts of our pickers are with our friends overseas. Here in Burgundy, we’re far from the tropical heat, with fall having made a sudden arrival with decidedly chilly mornings and blustery, gray afternoons...
Day 12 – Friday 8 September 2017
The morning was drab and chilly at just 15°C (59°F) as summer draws to a close, yet the vines are still mostly green. The sun made a brief appearance in the middle of the day, but showers were forecast, so we decided to bring in as many grand crus as we could....
Day Eleven – Thursday 7 September 2017
It’s both quality and quantity for the 2017 vintage! Reds, whites, Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits – an uninterrupted flow is submerging the sorting table. Three teams of pickers are hard at work in the vines, and the winery crew has been on the go since 7:00am this morning.
Day Ten – Wednesday 6 September 2017
As a result, by mid-morning a team of 20 Romanians was hard at work in the large plot of L’Héritier in Le Clos Vougeot, a hectare to the left of the path leading to the chateau.
Day nine -Tuesday 5 September 2017
It was a strange feeling going out this morning: It was warmer outside than indoors, with a distinct humidity that made it feel like the tropics! The night had been exceptionally warm at 20°C (68°F), and the close, stormy atmosphere stayed with us all day under threatening gray clouds.
Day eight – Monday 4 September 2017
This morning, the children went back to school after the summer recess, the grapes came into the winery, and the pickers returned to the vines, where many other teams were out on the slopes of the Côte de Beaune in particular.
Days six and seven – Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September 2017
We are waiting for maturity levels to rise before continuing the harvests, so we made the most of the weekend to allow nature to work its magic.
Day five – Friday 1 September 2017
Cool, changeable weather nonetheless provided some wonderful light and bright blue sky between the clouds on this new day of harvesting. This was the second “fruit” day in the lunar calendar to occur during the 2017 harvest period, and was perfect for picking...
Day Four – Thursday 31 August 2017
The overnight rain cooled the atmosphere, and on the last day of August, the seasons suddenly seemed to have turned: It was just 11°C (52°F) at 8 o’clock this morning, with gray skies under heavy cloud. The pickers had swapped their shorts and sneakers for rain gear and boots....
Day three – Wednesday 30 August 2017
The heatwave was already blanketing the Côte as the sun rose, but rain was forecast for the evening with hail bearing down. We are hurrying to get the ripest and most prestigious plots picked to preserve concentration and avoid dilution at all costs.
Day two – Tuesday 29 August 2017
Another searingly hot day (35°C/95°F), as the pickers bowed to gather some lovely, healthy grapes with nice millerandage – the phenomenon of large and very small berries that provides concentration. A very tough physical feat for these sun-worshippers.
Day one – Monday 28 August 2017
This year’ grape harvest began under an azure sky and in scorching sun, the 19th vintage at the Domaine de la Vougeraie. How time flies!
Day 15 – Wednesday 5 October 2016
The last day of the 2016 harvests was bathed in sunshine, a magnificent day that took both teams up into the high vineyards right at the back of the Côtes to bring in the last of this year’s grapes. They enjoyed a quick snack of cold cuts and chocolate at 9:00am when it was still chilly, then later on, Raphaël organized a barbecue for the Beaune team in the vines, with grilled sausages and merguez served up after the last snip of the secateurs cut the last bunch of red grapes, that took over an hour to be transported back to the winery.
Day 14 – Tuesday 4 October 2016
The hillsides were lit by a magnificent light today, the weekend rain a distant memory. This cloudless blue sky opened up the horizon, intensifying the chill, which this morning dropped to 8°C in the wind. Orange tinges are starting to appear in places in the green rows of vines, another subtle sign of the change in season. The plants have given their all to bear fruit despite the frosts, and are now ending their cycle. By tomorrow, all our vines will have been harvested.
Day 13 – Monday 3 October 2016
It was a perfect harvesting day, a mild 20°C and breezy, as we attacked the last but by no means the least plot on the Côte de Beaune...
Days 11 and 12 – Saturday 1 & Sunday 2 October 2016
The rain forecast did indeed come on Friday night, and in the space of one day we shifted into another season. The heating is gradually going on in houses, and the Saturday morning chill meant the boots and wet-weather gear was out. The autumnal leaves are starting to fall.
Day Ten – Friday 30 September 2016
It’s the last day of September and it’s been a few years since our annual harvest has carried on into October...
Day Nine – Thursday 29 September 2016
Today, we profited from the sunny weather and a “fruit” day in the lunar calendar to focus on our grand crus. The sun shone and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the temperature rose to 26°C (79°F), prolonging a summer that seems endless and yet… In two days’ time, the fall will be making itself felt, with rain forecast for Saturday, so we’re hurrying to bring in the grapes from our best vines, mainly the whites that are most sensitive to losing acidity, and we don’t want that.
Day Eight – Wednesday 28 September 2016
At last Pierre feels like we’re harvesting! One should say that the activity in the winery has been intensifying as the grapes arrive. The vats are filling one by one, the alcoholic fermentations are starting, and the press is releasing the golden nectar of Chevalier-Montrachet and Bâtard-Montrachet that then goes to rest in stainless-steel tanks. The Clos Blanc is the first white to go into barrels, where it will continue its fermentation in oak. It has entered the peace of the cellar, where it joins the last of the 2105s which will be bottled in a few months’ time.
Day Seven -Tuesday 26 September 2016
The early mornings are very chilly when the pickers arrive in the vines, the mercury barely registering 11°C (52°F) as fall sets in. But today, the sun clearly wanted to shine through, the clouds gradually melting away to reveal an immaculate blue sky like a last hurrah for summer! These were ideal conditions for harvesting, although it was almost too hot for those in the full blaze of the sun, cutting and carrying the grapes.
Day six – Monday 26 September 2016
It was a gentle return to harvesting this morning, in overcast, mild, and above all dry weather. This is certainly pleasant for the pickers, and good for the grapes too, since there are no dirt splashes and so no risk of contamination which is important for the purity of the taste.
Day Five – Friday 23 September 2016
It was bright and fresh with a nip in the air this morning on the Côte. The vines are still looking luxuriant as summer slips away, with a handful of pickers scattered across the slopes. As we wait for some of the grapes to reach perfect maturity, today’s harvest drew to a halt at lunchtime.
Day Four – Thursday 22 September 2016
On this day in the year, the length of the day equals that of the night, before starting its inexorable decline. A new season is beginning, and for us, this involves harvesting the scarce grapes from vineyards that have seen many vintages come and go over the past two millennia. Each one has been different: 2016, will be rare and precious.
Day Three – Wednesday 21 September 2016
On this last official day of summer, the morning was chilly and the skies gray as our two teams of pickers set out for the vines at 8:00am...
Day Two – Tuesday 20 September 2016
This morning, the sun was poking out behind the clouds, and ended the day emerging in all its glory. It was milder and drier than yesterday. The clouds have moved on and the Côte is strangely calm. The usual effervescence, with tractors clogging the roads, noise and shouts, the excitement of the sheer intensity; all that is lacking. Instead, there is a sort of resigned waiting, a palpable frustration in the face of such a low harvest. The weather is so fine, and the fruit today was so perfect, we’d so like to have more of it. Especially since we can already tell it will make great wine. But such small quantities... The estate has never known such low yields. This is encapsulated by our Nuits-Saint-Georges Le Clos de Thorey, where picking finished this morning. This was one of the plots worst affected by frost, and will yield barely six pièces, instead of the usual 15. In other words, a tiny yield of 9hl/ha, whereas in a normal year we would expect around 30!
Day One – Monday 19 September 2016
Harvesting in an autumnal mood Whereas we had already finished harvesting by this time in 2015, this year we are only just starting in the third week in September, returning to a more traditional date for Burgundy. That said, nothing this year has followed the classic timetable. The weather has been chaotic, and we have struggled to keep up with its vertiginous changes.
Day fifteen – Tuesday 15 September 2015
Here we are on the last day of the harvests! The team on the Côte de Nuits finished yesterday, and all that remained was a small section of our Hautes-Côtes de Beaune vines which our brave pickers cut in the wet. The weather was blown up from the south, and Mother Nature let rip with powerful gusts and squally rain. But by lunchtime, everything was done. The team had the afternoon to rest and to prepare for tonight’s paulée, the traditional celebration to mark the end of the harvest.
Day fourteen Monday – 14 September 2015
This beautiful “flower” day in the lunar calendar involved our final hours of picking on the windy crests of the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits and de Beaune in the last plots to ripen. Last night was a new moon, which always signifies a change in the weather. And today it was clear as the temperatures dropped and we were hit with squalls of rain throughout the day. Fall is approaching fast as the sun played hide-and-go-seek with the clouds. It was 12°C this morning and 18°C during the afternoon.
Day thirteen – Saturday 12 September 2015
We only picked for half of today as rain was forecast for the afternoon. While Raphaël’s team was helping out some friends of ours on another estate, Thierry’s gang on the Côte de Nuits finished up the old vines of Gevrey-Chambertin Les Evocelles. They were in beautiful condition despite there being less fruit than last year. The yield was about right for the year, with 25 hectoliters per hectare. Then they headed above Nuits-Saint-Georges to the lovely and recently acquired plots of Hautes-Côtes-de-Nuits red. These are high-trained vines with beautifully sinuous rows offering lovely fruit. This large vineyard covers one hectare, and runs alongside our two plots planted with white. The grapes were gathered quickly because the pickers can stand up while cutting the bunches at eye-level, which meant a devilish pace back at the winery to keep up with the incoming crates.
Day twelve – Friday 11 September 2015
This last day of sunshine was reserved for our last grand cru, a legendary one and definitely the oldest – our Charmes-Chambertin Les Mazoyères. These vines were planted in 1902, and although we replace a few plants every year, the oldest are 113 years old! Normally, vines of this age would be well past their prime, but by some kind of agronomical miracle, this extraordinary vegetable matter is surviving everything nature throws at it. The wonderful combination of these admirable plants, some superb terroir, and great winegrowing resulted in lovely grapes with good millerandage on which the winemaker will work his magic. This land was truly made for grapes, and on average produces 3,000 bottles of exceptional wine that is both beautiful in color and powerful in character, and extremely sophisticated to boot.
Day eleven – Thursday 10 September 2015
It was another fabulous day today, with temperatures of 10°C this morning rising to 24°C by the afternoon. In just a few days’ time, the harvests will be finished. Indeed, the traditional end-of-harvest celebration known as the paulée is scheduled for Tuesday night. Meanwhile, we must finish the plots as they arrive at full maturity.
Day ten – Wednesday 9 September 2015
The day was bathed in a glorious sun, raising the temperature to an agreeable 21°C. A new day’s picking got underway at a good pace for the team on the Côte de Nuits, who were unaware that a surprise awaited them on the large three-hectare plot of our Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Clos de Thorey Monopole.
Day nine – Tuesday 8 September 2015
Today, Pierre is disappointed, despite the lovely weather on this “flower” day of the lunar calendar. Yields are so low that it’s all happening too fast! It’s such a fabulous harvest that he desperately wants there to be more fruit. Unfortunately, the story is the same across the Côte, and that’s the only damper on this fantastic year. The quality is there, but yields are low, with around 20% less than in a “normal” year. As a result, Sylvie is sulking. Pierre’s alter-ego, the other half of Mr & Mrs de la Vougeraie, our bubbly blond head of sales has been the driving force of the estate, albeit in the shadow of the winemaker, for nine years now, and she’s the one who is going to have to explain why she is limiting our loyal customers’ orders for this vintage. She has temporarily lost her legendary smile. But Mother Nature calls the shots around here, and she chose not to irrigate this year – irrigation so desperately needed by Burgundy wines – and although this brings out the glorious magic of the terroir, it means low yields.
Day eight – Monday 7 September 2015
The sun rose at 6am over a chilly and windy Côte, with a bright blue sky scattered with clouds. We are now halfway through the harvest, and are simply following the tempo, which continues to increase in the winery as the vats are filled with reds and barrels filled with whites.
Day seven – Saturday 5 September 2015
Saturday was a half-day for the pickers before a day off on Sunday. This morning, we finished the Pommard Les Petits Noizons. For a vine hit by hail, the crop wasn’t bad, producing enough to fill around 17 pièces, two more than last year and the equivalent to 35 hectoliters per hectare. The weather was gray, heavy, and fairly cool at just 8°C, and all the talk was of turning on the heating. We have gone from 34°C to 15°C in just 10 days! It’s a harsh continental climate in Burgundy, not helped by the Moon and the changing seasons.
Day six – Friday 4 September 2015
With the thermometer showing just 10°C this morning in the vines, it was a little frisky for our pickers! But fortunately, the sun shone all day, bringing the temperature up to a pleasant 20°C. This meant the ideal conditions for the 2015 harvest continued: a blue sky dotted with a few fluffy clouds, and a steady stream of lovely grapes.
Day five – Thursday 3 September 2015
Today was a “fruit” day in the biodynamic calendar, ideal for harvesting as it boosts the fruitiness of the grapes. The weather was normal for the season, with a blue sky dotted with large clouds revealing and hiding the sun by turns. The teams were all in good spirits when they gathered at 7am in Beaune, Morey-Saint-Denis and Prémeaux. There were 30 on one Côte, 50 on the other, and a 12-strong crew in the winery, all united by their mission to pick and transform the grapes.
Day four – Wednesday 2 September 2015
The vines may still be an intense green color, but summer is slowly slipping away. The sun rises later, the days are growing shorter, and there’s a definite chill in the air. It’s perfect picking weather, you’d never know it rained yesterday, and sneakers are de rigeur in the vines.
Day three – Tuesday 1 September 2015
The storm arrived and the thunder boomed out overnight, but in the end did little damage. Only some 3mm of rain fell, and the temperatures tumbled. But this was nothing compared to our northerly neighbors in Chablis, where the vineyards suffered hailstorms on the eve of the harvests. We spare a thought for them…
Day two – Monday 31 August 2015
On Saturday, the huge, round Moon lit up the summer night as temperatures continued to soar. It was still 30°C after night fell over the languid vineyards and the forest dotted with oronges. The coolness did not arrive this weekend, but the full Moon foretells of a change in the weather, so we just need a little patience.
Day one – Friday 28 August 2015
Here we are again, starting on our annual grape harvest at the Domaine de la Vougeraie. These two weeks of intense hard work are what truly makes the wine. Although the grapes remain the essential raw material, their harvesting and transformation must magnify what nature has given us. And this year has been remarkable thanks to the intense heat this summer. We have endured two months of almost constant heat, something very rare for the Burgundy region, with repeated peaks of 40°C, leading us to fear the worst in July when some bunches were burning under the rays of this infernal sun.
Day 15 – Thursday 25 September 2014
That’s it. After 15 intense days, the last day of the harvest is upon us and we are entering the phase of the birth of the wines, the three most fantastic weeks in a winemaker’s life: creation! The moment when they express their talent and play sorcerer’s apprentice.
Day 14 – Wednesday 24 September 2014
Exactly one year ago to the day, the 2013 harvest began at the Domaine.
This year, it is steadily coming to a conclusion under an ever-present sun.
Day 13 – Tuesday 23 September 2014
That’s it! Summer is officially over. The sun kept going as long as it could, we sense now that Mother Nature, after her spectacularly fruitful recent activity, is gradually losing her vitality. The leaves on the vines are turning red, the trees becoming burnished; the days are growing cooler and the nights longer.
Day 12 – Monday 22 September 2014
The sight of pickers on the Côte foretells the onset of the fall. In a few days’ time, the pickers will leave and calm will return to the vines as they take on their autumnal finery. But in the winery, the activity is intense. Almost all the vats will be filled – 28 out of 34 – with the whites slowly awakening in stainless steel.