Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Late Harvest

Many of the wine makers around us do a late harvest wine by leaving some of their chenin blanc grapes on the vine for a few weeks beyond the normal harvest date. This concentrates the sugars as the grapes begin to shrivel and develop botrytis, the noble rot.

Jean-Noël on one of his tractors.

Often these grapes will be picked by hand so that only the best grapes will go into the wine. We've seen one of our neighbor viticulteurs Jean-Noël and his wife Chantal out there picking by hand in previous years. But this year they're a bit short handed and decided to harvest their chenin with the mechanical harvester.

The harvester is pulled behind the tractor.

We ran into Jean-Noël and Chantal out in the vineyard on Sunday harvesting their rows of chenin for this year's late harvest wine. He says it's a great year due to the warm, dry weather during the latter part of the season. Can't wait to taste the result! He also told us that next year we can join in with the hand-picking if we wanted to. We'll see about that. Depends on the hedge trimming schedule.

The tractor says, "I'm having fun with my ALMA!"
The guy says, "I, too, have an ALMA machine. Why not you?"

We drink sweet late harvest wines as apéritifs (before dinner drinks), with dessert sometimes, and during the holidays with specialties like foie gras. Yum!

An interesting aside: the brand name of the harvester is A.L.M.A., a maker of harvesting equipment. Alma is also the name of the small private college that sponsored my year abroad program at the Alliance Française in 1981.


  1. I had fun with MY Alma!


    (word verification is what Callie says when she's hoarse: unwoof)

  2. That's interesting about Alma college and the wine harvester with the same name...I like coincidences like that. Little did you know that year abroad would change your life.

    Love the sticker- it would look good on our VW camper's collection.

  3. I don't know what it is, but I've got this giant piece of me, deep inside somewhere, that loves loves loves fields, tractors, the countryside, the quiet, the hay, the harvest, the whole thing.....

  4. It might be fun to be part of the hand-picking crew.

  5. Gustav Mahler had fun with his alma as well.

  6. judy, hehehe!

    evelyn, funny, eh?

    alewis, me too. Except it's not as quiet as all that. Those harvesters hum!

    starman, it might be...

    michael, I don't need to tell you about Walter Gropius...

  7. I live in a wine producing region also- Willamette Valley & I am a wine buyer for a living. I love Loire Valley wines. I appreciate this intersting post, plus... farm machinery makes me horny. Something to do with John Deere when I was 13.

  8. stephen, I was there once many (many) years ago. It's beautiful and I enjoyed the pinots they were making then. I have no designs on Mr. Deere. He's all yours. ;)


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