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The Harvest!!!!!!!!!!

Frankrike (Pommard) 2006-09-26

Around The World in 365 days - EXTENDED VERSION!!!!

After a couple of hours on Swedish ground and after 365 days around the earth it is time for some new adventures!! This time in France to work with the wine harvest in Pommard, Burgundy.

Well, after traveling from Kuala Lumpur through Singapore and London and after our lunch in Täby Alvar (Anders father) drove us to Skavsta Airport and Ryanairs flight bound for Beauvais outside Paris. At the airport we took the bus to the city of Paris and then the Metro 16 stations to our pre booked Hotel - closed to Gare de Lyon. A very late dinner and we were relatively sleepy after 48 hours of traveling, not that difficult to get some sleep!!!!

We had a couple of hours in the sunny Paris before we had to leave for Dijon. A nice walk along the Seine against Notre Dame and a very FRENCH lunch and yes, times travels fast so we had to go to the train station and take the TGV train to Dijon, quick as lightning, and Estelle was there to welcome us - with a big hug and her arm full of flowers!!! So fun to see her again.......She is one of our most faithful readers and a very good friend.

We stay at her Gite de France in the room named "Clos Blanc" in Pommard just outside Beaune. When we arrive there is a lot of activity. There are "normal B&B guest living here and 10 students from Brittany whom are here to work with the harvest + more than 10 more local people who help them with the harvest. We have two breakfasts, a 4 course lunch and a 4 course dinner every day so you can understand there are a lot of discussions and talks among the French people. Of course they serve wine all the time including wine to the second "baguette breakfast" out on the vineyard and we almost forgot - Pastis before dinner!! Of course we are in France!!

Both Estelle’s parents are helping her during this very hectic period, as mentioned the B&B is open and it is always fully booked. A fantastic place that we have now visited four times and that we warmly recommend. We have "only" booked four hours work/day and Yes, that was the right decision. Estelle where right; it is very hard work to pick grapes. It doesn’t matter if its sunshine or rain - the grapes has to be picked!!!! Our first day on the "field" gave us a hurting back and cuts on our fingers and after some more days also the knees hurts.............

The secateur is extremely sharp and as we are cutting the grapes in a definite way it is very easy to cut your hand but so far we have not seen any fingers in the tractor..................... but.............we think we now knows the secret behind rosé wine!!!! With so many pickers and wounds on the fingers (we are not the only one to cut ourselves!!) there are some blood... and if it's white grapes that are picked.... well, you understand what we mean!!! Ha-ha!!!

Even though we work hard we are confused. There must have been something in our newly bought suitcase (we left our backpacks in Sweden) that shrinks all our new clothes (especially the trousers!) *smile*!! Or is it the magnificent French food and all the French cheese?? Ok, ok - we admit there are one or two glasses of wine as well so maybe there where nothing wrong with the suitcase!!?!

Most of the work is done manually and when the working day is over it hurts in every muscle in the body. Click to enlarge.Domaine Thierry Violot-Guillemard is cultivating their wine biologic and EVERY grape is handpicked. After this experience we have a better understanding why the better wines costs a little bit more.

At 7.15 we eat our first breakfast and after that we head out to the different vineyards in 3 busses/cars and the tractor. At around 10 we are served baguette and wine (or water) Rosè, Blanc ou Rouge???? During our first morning at work we handpicked all together 2.500 kilo. That gives approx 2.500 bottles Thierry informs us and Anders are very surprised - he thought it was far less than that.

After more than 4 hours on the field it feels very good to go back to the house and have lunch. In the afternoons we are resting (while the others goes back to the field) and tries to clean our hands (it doesn't work) and look after our cuts in the fingers. We have forgotten our medical bag in Sweden but they have plenty of plasters! After that it's time for an aperitif, discussion and dinner. Hard life, isn't it??? Well, it's great!!

Thierry and Estelle. Click to enlarge.During harvest the whole family; Thierry, Estelle and their three kids Mélie, Joannès and Jules eats together with the workers at the B&B. It's really, really nice and as everyone only speaks French we are learning more and more!!

This Saturday our friends Anders & Berit Berglund stopped by on their way down to a week of holiday in Cote d'Azur. It was really nice to meet them again!! So, even we come to the cold and dark Sweden we are looking forward to come home and meet our relatives and friends. We took them to Beaune and bought a lot of cheese at The Fromagerie Alain Hess, visited Hospice de Beaune with the beautiful roof and bought some foi gras to the dinner. We drink some of Thierry's Premier Cru to our dinner and when we start with the cheese Thierry goes down to the wine cellar and offer us a bottle of "Echèveux Grand Cru". Fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!

The next day Anders & Berit heads for Menton and we goes to work again after lunch.

Yesterday we finished the picking - all together they have handpicked approx 50 ton of grapes during the 10 days they have been working. This was celebrated at the local pub where Thierry bought drinks to everyone that had been participating in the harvest and a fantastic dinner at home. A very nice decorated table, great food (again), wine, French songs and of course Taram Tam Tam - performed by Anders. Succé!!

Of course we had to test it when we had the opportunity. Click to enlarge.This morning it was pretty tuff to go up from the bed BUT after a "swim" in the barrel in the morning we got awake. Very hard work to "stamp" the grapes and this work has to be done every 8 hours in the different barrels Thierry have. The grapes and the wine almost reach to the arms but it was great fun as you can see from, our pictures!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The 2006 Premier Cru Clos Blanc will be very special “a touch of Swedish exotic flavor". Later today it's time to jump into the barrels again!! In 5 to 10 years time you can taste the wine and please let us know if you did find any Swedish flavors!!!

Tonight our friends from Brittany will serve crepé for dinner and we will share our cheeses. Looking forward already!!

After this hard work we hope to have some time with Family Violot-Guillemard a few days and tomorrow Bengt and Kerstin (whom visited us in Singapore and Malaysia) will come in their car to pick us up and "some wine bottles". We will have a "Sundström Travel" program on our way which includes some days in Burgundy and Champagne before we head north.

Many kisses EvAnders