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

ain’t no mountain dry enough

wpid-house-its-not-lupus-its-never-lupus

It’s NEVER Lupus!

The bites and scrapes are starting to add up. Skin is so exposed with the heat, and mine is extra sensitive, as I’ve discovered it responds poorly to copper sulfate spray, so each new lump and bump comes with a whole host of paranoic wonderment: is it a mosquito bite? Is it an allergic reaction? ….. Is it lyme disease? …………….SKIN CANCER?? (In a dark corner of my room, I KNOW there’s a spider rubbing at least three of his legs together, saying: the Precious tastesss ssssso much better with a dash of fear.) Just kidding… said spider has been satisfyingly vanquished. It made the mistake of hiding behind the bathroom door in plain sight at a time when my roommate and I had enough liquid courage to construct a strategy and take it out. Even though we could see hairs on its legs. (That’s Madame Dragonslayer to you!) Read More

the hills are a lie

The carcasses of a deer and a wild boar are hanging up in a cold locker in my backyard right now. The former is roadkill, recovered by my landlord; the latter a prize from hunting the night before. It’s clear we’re not in Kansas anymore… The views here are spectacular but I’m realizing that there’s much more to Alsace than the picture-perfect images of mountains, quaint houses and vines absolutely everywhere. What is certain is that any romanticized expectations I may have previously harboured about working in the vines are well and truly dashed. My arms and legs are covered in fly, mosquito, spider and even horsefly bites, not to mention thistle spines, bruises and sunburn (the latter thankfully camouflages the worst of it). It actually reminds me a lot of my camino experience – physically demanding and exhausting but mentally exhilarating and rewarding. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

New digs, and the neighbour checks us out. On the street where I live, you can see the clouds up in the vines.

Our new digs, and the neighbour checks us out suspiciously. On the street where I live, you can see the clouds up in the vines.

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à plus tard, Bordeaux; salü Turckheim!

School’s. Out. For. Summer! It’s brilliant to have all the assignments behind us now. (Actually, all but one. A surprise take-home exam snuck its way onto the roster juuuuust before the last day of school. But, mentally and certainly geographically as much as one can say that, the semester is over, and that’s what’s important.) We have put a lid on the technical audit that has consumed our time for the last two months, culminating in our final presentations.

The fruits of our labour! A lot of work analysing the domaine, including the age of the vines (these ones were just planted), the soil, and the vigour (like how fast they start budding). Excel spreadsheets galore. Some moments of insight! And finally one of the presentations.

The fruits of our labour: a lot of work analyzing the vineyard, including the age of the vines (these ones were just planted), the soil, and the vigour (like how fast they start budding). Spreadsheets galore. Some moments of insight! And we’re finally ready to present.

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here’s looking at you, alsace

“It’s possible that I have some control issues…” I begin saying, but my friend’s chuckles cut me off before I can finish the thought …after nine years of being a project manager… Dammit. OK, there’s probably some truth in that, particularly as I’m determined to write about the past week in chronological order, even though the bits at the beginning of the week are suspiciously blurry. After three days in Alsace, stumbling about in a food-and-drink stupor, you’ll understand why I leave you with mostly pictures for this post. Apologies for the brevity of this post (though 1000 words x # pictures… surely counts for something?), but it’s another busy week which I’ll get to in the next post (coming soon, as there was too much to put into one entry). Read More