Wednesday was the second day of the grape harvest at Domaine de Cébène. Sunday, the first day, I mostly stood around and took pictures of other people working. The vendange was supposed to begin Saturday, but the weather didn’t cooperate. Rain poured down and removed a bit more of my bathroom ceiling which had partially collapsed during the previous storm. (Help is on the way!) Sunday dawned dry with partial sunshine. By noon about half of the Syrah had been picked and was in the vats on its way to becoming wine. My contribution to the first day of harvest was a pasta salad which I went home to make while everyone else was picking grapes.
After the grapes are picked, the crates are taken by tractor, if there’s one available, or truck to the cellar. The grapes are then emptied into the egrappoir, a machine that removes the stems and sends the grapes down a chute and into a fermentation vat in the cellar below.
After watching Brigitte work at the egrappoir, I decided to have a go myself. It felt a bit like a Lucille Ball skit. The grapes, sans stems, roll down the chute like pinballs and if you don’t move them along fast enough they pile up and spill over.Soon I was elbow deep in Grenache, pushing grapes in one direction as more spilled down the chute towards me. Brigitte mentioned at one point that it would be very dangerous to fall into the vat below as the gasses given off once the fermentation starts are lethal. I tried to keep that in mind.
A more immediate problem was my back which after 30 minutes began to protest.