21 October, 2000
To the marvellous harvest of 2004.
”Oh la la la laaaa”, is what we hear from Nathalies side of the row one time after another. On the eighth and last day of the grapeharvest we are supposed to fill nine time twelve boxes of 50 kilos each with Chardonnay. It takes time. It is only five days ago we were here in “Vieilles Grandmeres” for the last time, but now the green grapes are so overmature, that they are rotting. I am grateful for my green latex-gloves even if one finger is almost gone with the scissors we use. 75 percent of the grapes are red with rot – a tragic sight – and David and Alex are less busy emptying baskets simply because there are less good grapes.
We are sure to finish today, leader Gerard says 8 days is the maximum you can work hard like this and according to another veteran – Jocelyne – you must not think of it as the last day. Then it gets too difficult to feel motivated.
In the afternoon we change fields to ”Belles Feuilles” that still is worthy of its pretty name. Here the grapes hang heavily, and the sun forces the thermometer up on the other side of 20 degrees Celsius. Could you possibly end the harvest in a nicer way? We are to pick Pinot Meunier for the wine Gerard as winegrower is entitled to get from the cooperative. And since the grapes are so pretty, many and we have got most of the afternoon just for them, Gerard gets demanding and wants only the biggest and blackest of the blue grapes.
After finishing the necessary quota follows the big grapekilling. It is impossible to pick everything – whatever governments may demand – so instead we cut grapes that taste sweet as candy to leave them on the ground to rot. It is simply not possible to eat the surplus of grapes of 15.000 kilos per hectar. A little bit of them however can be used in the following war of grapes, that follows the official end at five o’clock. Grapejuice is incredibly sticky, but sticky you already are after a full days work.
Sounding the horn and yelling “terminé” each time we pass teams that are not yet through this the last day of the grapeharvest ends with a party. 14 bottles of champagne we empty in the mild octobernight, that stays warm until hours after midnight. Just the way Muriel likes it, not too cold and with a lot of grapes. The grapes of 2004 are delivered, and seem to be rather good.