12 July, 2022
It’s supposed to be hot, so we get up early and reach the vineyard a little after 7 a.m. Our task today: Separate the grapes that have grown into one another to ensure that diseases aren’t transmitted easily. Having each bunch hanging separately also provides better ventilation and makes September harvesting easier.
Thomas is expecting an incredibly big harvest, his biggest ever (his first harvest came in 2019 – in 2020 and 2021 he was able to harvest only half as much as in 2019). At the moment the vines are in good condition. To protect them from the sun’s rays, he applied a simple lime-water mixture last week.
The plant pathogen Oidium, which can cause powdery mildew, can be found on some vines, otherwise we only see dried grapes that could not withstand the sun. for the moment, that’s great, let’s hope that the sun will not continue to burn has hard as it did in the past couple of weeks.
When we see Thomas’s friend Patchi from a distance, we go over. Patchi and his colleagues work for the fabled Domaine Philippe Foreau which is, like the neighbouring Domaine Huet, famous for its sweet Chenin Blanc wines. They planted new vines three months ago, more than a third have now died because of the heat, and are now watering them, again. In Vouvray, vine plants may be watered for the first three years, after that no more.
Back to work! We ensure that all plants are within the wire frame in which the vines are grown. Again and again some escape and then lie on the ground or hang crookedly between the vines in the air, where they can be damaged by the tractor, for example. Whenever we find a dead shoot coming out of the stem of the vine, we cut it off. It bears no fruit, so we are not interested!
Around 11 a.m. it is so hot that we can’t stand it any longer and drive back to the cellar. I’m cleaning it out using my favourite tool: the Jungheinrich. The goal is to have the front area of the cellar emptied, as it will soon be used for the harvest, for the vats in which the wine ferments after pressing. As of today, the harvest begins on September 5th, a good two weeks earlier than last year.