Grape harvest in the south of France
The grapes are changing color and that reminds us that harvest time is right around the corner. We get exceptionally busy around harvest, but we leave the door open and let tourists come to the vineyard and see exactly how harvest goes down. Some people actually roll up their sleeves and work for a bit too! It’s the perfect way to get immersed in the wine from the region while you visit Carcassonne.
Who is this workshop designed for?
This is great for anybody who is curious about how wine is made. You don’t need to know a lot about wine. It’s interesting to every level of wine drinker. We’ve actually had visitors who don’t even drink wine but still love the tour because they get to see a really fascinating process that defines the life of our entire region for an entire month. Wine is really the backbone of the Languedoc Roussillon and visiting a vineyard is a quintessential experience!
All that said, if you do already know a fair bit about wine, this is a great way to take it to the next level. You’ll see soooo much in a short period of time. It will certainly be time well-spent.
When is harvest 2011?
Harvest should start around the second week of September.
But this is the toughest part of planning the harvest workshops. Folk lore says that harvest starts 45 days after the grapes change color. And they’re changing color right now. According to that, you can expect harvest to start around the second week of September. But that’s not set in stone. On the bright side, if you come right before harvest, there is still a lot of interesting stuff going on. We’ll be tasting the grapes to see whether they’re ready to be harvested. We’ll be setting up the winery for harvest. And we’ll be doing some last minute work to prepare the parcels that are going to be machine-harvested. You might also get to peek in at our extremely limited white wine production (just a couple of barrels).
Harvest should end around the second week of October.
But even toward the end, there are lots of interesting things going on. Vinification for example! How do we turn that grape juice into wine? In many ways, the end of harvest is the most interesting time to visit because you’ll see freshly picked grapes (generally the Cabernet Sauvignon comes in last) side by side with the first grapes we picked (and they’re generally finishing their fermentation by the end of harvest). The downside is that we’ll be exhausted so you’ll meet a much less energetic version of the O’Connell family. 😀 But we love to receive people and share the harvest so don’t be shy!
What do you see and do at harvest?
You’ll see everything. There are no closed doors. You’ll see how we pick the grapes and bring them into the winery. You can see the sorting table in action. You’ll see how we bring the grapes up to the tanks without any pumps. You can see us mix yeasts or sulfites that will be added to the fermentation tank. All this is open book. Last year, a group from Barcelona took some brilliant harvest photos that really showcase how much access they had to every step of the process.
A lot of tourists choose to participate actively in some of the easier jobs. Spend fifteen minutes at the sorting table to contribute to the quality of O’Vineyards 2011! Help pick a row of grapevines. Or do more technical stuff like learn how to take sugar density measurements on the incoming juice and calculate the potential alcohol level. Whatever tickles your fancy (within reason… we have to be careful about insurance issues).
How to book a harvest tour
You should email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what day or days you can come by. We’ll tell you what’s likely to be the best day to visit. Also tell us if you want the tour (25 Euros / person) or the more involved harvest workshop (95 Euros / person, lunch included and more time with the winemakers).
I hope to see a lot of you very soon!