The Merlot juice straight from grape to cuve, no pressing just running out of the grapes. This way it retains all it's wonderful flavours and, as you can see, colour.
Can that be grape juice staining that horse's lips? A few of the Merlot left over from the harvest are a welcome treat. However the horses do not get any grapes before harvest in case they get a taste for them.
We started before first light with the Sauvignon Blanc to catch them in the cool of dawn. Then went on to harvest all our Merlot some of which are destined for Humphrey's famous dark rose.
The grapes go from harvester to trailer, from trailer to pump (left), to press (below) to cuve or wine storage vat
Our press is "en CUMA" - that is we share it with about a dozen other vignerons. Of course we all want it on the days when the grapes are just right and the weather is fine. Bernard, President of the CUMA, decides who gets it when but luckily for us in our CUMA only three of us produce white grapes and red go straight into the tanks and only get pressed after a few weeks
Today we bottled our lovely 2011 Saussignac. the mobile bottling machine comes to us and in a morning we bottled around 6000 bottles including some 2012 dry white. Just once the corking part of the machine got over enthusiastic and double corked the bottle below.
Tomorrow is our first harvest day and this afternoon our shared harvesting machine arrived for its before dawn start tomorrow. You can see Julian,the driver, is not certain of the weather as he has left his wellies ready.
This great state of the art machine picks cleanly leaving lizards,rotten grapes and leaves where they belong.
After about two weeks of rain and grey skies all the wine producers round here were afraid their grapes were about to rot. Including us. Luckily the weather turned hot and sunny and though we have had to spend days stripping off leaves to maximise the sun on the grapes, things are looking much better.we plan to start harvesting on Thursday with the Sauvignon Blanc and perhaps some Merlot for rosé.
We filtered the rest of the 2012 wine. Here below our filtered and the resulting remains from the red wine in the lovely old oak wagon restored by our friend James
Cleaning out the big wine storage tanks and the whole wine making area is an essential pre harvest job.
The big danger is the carbon dioxide at the bottom of the tanks. A father and son died recently on a nearby vineyard as they went to clean the tank. A candle that continues to burn when you put it in the bottom gives you the all clear.
We have taken the opportunity to reorganise a lot of it too with our new barrel racks making barrel storage easier.
Now the lavender is over and the bags are not made! However I have harvested the thyme,oregano and marjoram. The basil is still going strong and makes a great sauce for the tomatoe salads when mushed with some olive oil and black pepper. This herb garden was a weed infested bit of broken tarmac when we arrived.To plant this area I imitated the way these plants grow in the wild with just a small hole,barely any earth and white limestone rocks instead of mulch. it attracts hummingbird hawk moths in particular.
Sue Temperley writes the Wine and Wildlife blog.