The day started at 7 a.m. when it’s just light enough to see a bunch of grapes. The training course at three sentences was the shortest I’ve ever experienced. 1. Cut the bunches with the secateurs next to the cane as this will free two bunches at once (at least it does with Syrah). 2. Put the bunches into your bucket that can be emptied into cagettes (basically airport x-ray machine bins) strategically placed between the vines. 3. Finally, and most importantly, no grappons – these are small unripe bunches on thin tendrils resulting from later growth and flowerings.
Day 1 young syrah. Picking is done in groups of 2 or 3 to a row so the trained vine can be tackled from both sides and to make it a social event. Young vines are green harvested to give three bunches and avoid overstressing the vines. They also have relatively few leaves so easy pickings – this is definitely low hanging fruit. Picking was faster than tractor transportation to the winery so stretch breakes seemed frequent. Cloud rolled in by lunch time and kept the heat down. Before 3.30 p.m. it was job done. 1750 litres of de-stemmed grapes and juice. At the post analysis beer consumption meeting the forecast rain for the next day was discussed. Solution was to find an internet site (meteociel.fr) that wasn’t forecasting rain.
Day 2 adult syrah. A few more vines and a couple of less pickers. Denser foliage and more bunches made for slower picking than transport capacity so less breaks. Young girl whizzes along with Edward Scissorhands action - turns out she's done some hairdressing. Post lunch was clearly an effort with concentration needing to overtake conversation. The sun was out now. Even so, by 4 p.m. it was job done.
|Day 2 and job done. Unfortunately one picker is incapable of standing.|
|Meanwhile, back at the cave.|
For a different perspective do see Rosemary George’s account of the Mas Gabriel white harvest.