On the front lines - harvest is on in Burgundy!
We arrived Wednesday evening, and headed off first thing the next morning into the vineyards to check in on harvest first-hand. It hasn't really sunk in yet that we're here for 3+ months, rather than my usual 3-4 week trips, and that at some point we'll actually get to settle in and "live here".
In the vines, I'm happy to report that all of my producers are smiling a lot and very happy. The quality looks to be superb everywhere, and everyone is picking grapes at good maturity, nice balance and rich flavors. There will be no need for anyone to chaptalize - add sugar - anywhere here this year. Most importantly - the quantity is abundant. FInally. Yay! There's a big fat crop of reds coming in, though the whites are a little lighter overall, having suffered more from spring frosts this year. After 7 straight years of minimal crops, this bumper crop is hugely welcome. There will now be enough wine to sell for many of the small producers to be able to stay in business - if they can survive the brutal 18 months ahead.
Every vineyard road is jammed cheek-to-jowl with the ubiquitous white vans that transport the pickers from parcel to parcel, and every road, alley and driveway is packed with tractors and trucks transporting the just-picked fruit to the wineries. The Côte de Beaune is alive with action - virtually every producer was out picking these last three days from Beaune to Santenay and all points in between.
I was a proud papa, dropping daughter Pirrie off to join the Huber-Verdereau harvest crew in Volnay this morning, where she'll be working alongside Thiébault Huber's daughters Clara and Constance and his son Matthieu and a group of 15 friends from across Europe.
The Côte de Nuits is just getting started, and will be in full action all of this coming week - all is looking healthy and abundant up there, save for the sections of Morey-St. Denis that got hit by hail last month. And for Champagne - despite a difficult end to the growing season my producers are reporting sensational quality - Vincent Laval finished up yesterday at Georges Laval in Cumières and as absolutely thrilled.
It is a rather bizarre feeling being here while natural disasters are battering other parts of the world, some very close to home. I grieve for our beloved Columbia River Gorge, where over 30,000 acres are on fire and so much natural beauty is being destroyed. Hurricanes, earthquakes, it's a very sad and sobering time indeed...
Stay tuned for more action from the front lines here, as it happens...