things that go bump in the vines

The end is nigh! Sort of… it’s rapidly dawning on me that I’m in what feels like the final stretch of this program. At the time of writing, I have only two months left of school, followed by a month of travel and wrapping up in Bordeaux, then a summer-long internship in Canada (more on that later) and then a thesis defence back in France to finish the final year. Even though there’s technically 10 months to go, being able to go home in three months makes the program feel much shorter, even though it’s getting very busy. Read More

the maritimes, they are a-changin’

The official story is that I was waiting for the list of ingredients from our wine pairing dinner in Halifax over the holidays; but a slightly more true reason is that I’ve been enjoying the down time a little bit too much. Between the…. erm.. let’s call it ‘steady’ pace of work at Unilever, and the equally intense pace of what I expect entrepreneurial vineyard development to look like post-Master, I can’t help enjoying being a little lazy now and then, while I can. You got me, I was catching up on sleep! (An alternative fact of the matter is that the pairing portion of the story started getting too long, so I’m separating it into its own blog post, and also I got distracted making some pretty charts and graphs for the audit I’m working on. You know how it goes.) Read More

off to visit iberia

No, I blame YOU. (Dammit…he has a point.)

It must have been a case of wild optimism to expect to finish a blog post while in the home of a toddler over the holidays. I had every intention (for the first three days or so) of writing – had actually sat down to write, taking advantage of the time zone change and resulting lag in my own circadian rhythms and the fact that I was waking up 2-3 hours before everyone else in the house. Only to realize that said toddler was ALSO waking up 2-3 hours before everyone else and instead of writing, I was busy playing lullabye versions of rock songs (it’s never too soon to start a musical education), tearing up various food stuffs into tiny hand-sized portions, making faces at said toddler, and wiping aforementioned food stuffs off various and sundry surfaces. (Were those writer’s blocks that I just stepped on?). Read More

back to school (reprise)

The return to Bordeaux has been a complete change of pace from the harvest in Alsace. A relaxed schedule has given me time to work on my internship report and presentation, not to mention time to rediscover my old stomping grounds.

Refamiliarizing myself with the territory: fog on the walk to school; the Cité du Vin is a new attraction. Rue Ste Catherine is empty on the holiday - you can actually see the obelisk at Place de la Victoire at the other end! Cleanup in Place de la Bourse and an evening view of the Pont Jacques Chaban Delmas.

Refamiliarizing myself with the territory: fog on the walk to school; the Cité du Vin is a new attraction. Rue Ste Catherine is devoid of shopping hordes on the holiday – you can actually see the obelisk at Place de la Victoire at the other end! Cleanup in Place de la Bourse and an evening view of the Pont Jacques Chaban Delmas.

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when autumn leaves start to fall

Harvesting the Pinot Gris from the steep slopes of Rangen calls for smaller baskets.

Harvesting Pinot Gris from the steep slopes of Rangen calls for smaller baskets.

It’s been six weeks since my last post, as I’ve been preoccupied with the busy harvest days, and the lead-up to the end of my stage (and therefore my return to Bordeaux). The days pass by in a blur. There’s a rhythm to this faster pace particularly around the end of September, although it is punctuated by slow days when we’re not harvesting due to unreadiness of certain grapes and parcels.

In broad, broad terms, the harvest begins with the grapes in the Pinot family: Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Auxerrois, and even Pinot Noir, the only red grape we have. This is followed by the Muscat, Chardonnay and Riesling, and Gewurztraminer tends to be the last to be ready. I emphasize broad terms because many factors can impact the decision to harvest each varietal: the geography – the plains tend to be harvested before the slopes (the generic wines before the Grand Cru wines), and the soil – the granite tends to ripen earlier, and the volcanic rock later. Additionally, the type of wine desired also impacts the timing decision: grapes for drier wines will come in before grapes for sweeter wines, like the Late Harvest planned for some of our Pinot Gris. Read More