Harvest 2023 – Intense and Joyful
Harvest 2023 was powerful and jubilant. The first day was on 28 August with Merlot for Sensualité dry rosé (sold out at the moment but the Brut Rose is available) and the last day was the 16 September Verite Cabernet Sauvignon on our harvest day for vine shareholders and club members.
Sean moved our daughters Sophia and Ellie up to their new student lives in Paris the 24- 25 August, then we dove in, no time to think about the empty nest.
It was fast and furious. In less than 3 weeks we had everything handpicked thanks to a dynamic team that included Marnix, Guillaume, and friends Aoife, Roddy and Cathy, as well as many wonderful gite guests and volunteers India, Mads and Sarah. Harvest is about getting the grapes picked, but it is also about conviviality, laughter and joy.
We are the only people in Saussignac appellation that handpick everything, it is important for quality but also for this less quantifiable element of energy and joy.
From the Rosé last week of August, we moved to the Sincerite Sauvignon blanc (sold out at the moment) and then onto the Sémillon (find the lovely Silex here). The mildew had affected our harvest quantity on the Merlot as expected. The very humid spring created perfect conditions for downy mildew that took a large toll on the grapes and leaf cover. Across the region the loss is estimated at around 50% largely lost on Merlot which is the most planted grape in Bordeaux and Bergerac.
Mostly harvest season was beautiful weather.
But there were a few hairy moments with storm and hail forecast and some nail biting…
This very malicious looking storm was accompanied by a dramatic lightning show but thankfully amounted to nothing. We were able to get on with picking the following day with no harm done.
And actually rather grateful for some clouds to keep us cool.
Harvest is about picking – the timing and attention to detail – but it is also about care in the winery. That includes gently pouring the carefully handpicked grapes into the destemmer so that they arrive in the tank as whole berries with no oxidation.
And then instead of pumping over we dance on the grapes to get the skins in contact with the juice. Once the cap is soft enough we do punch down with a large tool like a big potato masher.
We ended Harvest with a deeply joyful vine share harvest day – perfect weather, fabulous people and great food thanks to Maeve, Aoife and Conor for the lunch prep and to the lovely Melanie and Charlie at the excellent restaurant Melange for a delicious harvest dinner with laughter and stories followed by dancing (a tradition on harvest night see 2017 and harvest weekend 2022).
The last phase of harvest – the final run off and pressing of the reds was supported by the phenomenal Peggy. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Thank you to everyone that participated in this magic harvest 2023. We are deeply grateful.
Thank you to photographers that provided photos Ned Martin – see more photos here, Marnix Warren and others. Merci!
Harvest Day 2024 for Club members and active Vine Share holders is set for Saturday 21 September. We would love to see you at Chateau Feely. Stay in one of Chateau Feely’s delightful holiday houses. Come and learn more about wine at the wine school or with a visit to Chateau Feely in South West France ; stay or do a multi day course or multi day tour or yoga retreat.
Read about the story of this organic vineyard– the series includes three books Grape Expectations; Saving our Skins and Vineyard Confessions by Caro Feely.
Buy them from Amazon at these links :
*New* : Cultivating Change