30 September 2018

Des vendanges lentes

There are still, weeks after the harvest began, a lot of red-wine grapes on the vines in the vineyard out back. The weather is dry and mild. Afternoons are still warm, but mornings are chilly.

There are even a few parcels of white-wine grapes that haven't yet been shaken off the vines. I guess these will be made into late-harvest (sweet) wines. I don't know if they are Chenin Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

This is how most of the grapes are harvested — by machine. It's a machine à vendanger that can straddle a row of vines, vibrating them so that the ripe grapes fall off the stems and land on a conveyor belt that, well, conveys them up to a big vat on the back of the machine.

When the vat is full, the harvester backs up to a tractor pulling a trailer that is waiting to be filled up. The grapes are dumped into the waiting trailer the way a dump truck would do it.

Then the guy driving the tractor takes the grapes down to the winery, about a mile from our house, and unloads them there for pressage et fermentation. The harvesting machine either follows or continues working out in the vineyard until the tractor and trailer are driven back to get another load.


  1. It's so cool that you have vineyards right there, outside of your yard, and you get to see this every year.

    1. Some years, the vendanges are a time of panic, an emergency, with cold rains threatening. This year, the weather remains, well, mild, if not exactly warm, but weirdly dry. As Walt said today, our plaster walls are showing long cracks as the dry soil under us contracts and the house settles. I think I need to go talk to the insurance company people about it. The same thing happened during the grande canicule of 2003, but we had just arrived and didn't yet understand what was happening. It's like flood damage, but just the opposite.

  2. I didn't know that the harvesting machines vibrated to get the grapes to come off. Rockin' and rollin'.


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