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Progress towards the 2017 Harvest

While we often discuss at length the results of the harvest, we rarely hear about activities before harvest-time in vineyards like the pictured one in France's Rhone Valley (Courtesy of

Christophe Grilhé).

So here is a Vineyard Progress Update from the top men behind the recently created Domaine et Maison Les Alexandrins in the Northern Rhone (which you can read about by following this link).

With the “Glorious Twelfth” at the end of this week, now is a good time to see what is happening in the prime region for producing the syrah that goes so well with game dishes. Here's what the guys have to say:

“A great harvest in prospect

Following a period of dry weather (up to 38°C in the shade for several days running) – which ensured beautifully healthy vines – the second half of July proved more clement and the recent rains have encouraged the process of veraison, when the berries change colour.

The quality of the grapes and the foliage promise a harvest of deliciously fragrant, flavourful grapes but the quantities that seemed substantial a month ago are now within the average of previous years.

Bunch thinning will be practised only on the young vines this year to avoid inhibiting their vegetative growth.

Manual work on the vines is now over.

We have disbudded (to leave only the best fruit-bearing shoots and suppress unnecessary vegetation), raised the shoots onto support wires or attached them with raffia to stakes (known as palets or echalas).

We have also trimmed the tops with shears and removed secondary shoots that suck up the sap.

The fifty people needed to help with this work for the last two months now have a rest period until the harvest, which looks like starting around 5th September for the whites and 12th for the reds.

Our elders say you need to count 45 days from when the grapes change colour.

So what next?

While this year has been technically easy in terms of managing disease, vineyard work has been less so.

That intense spurt of growth between the end of May and the beginning of June meant we had to be extremely reactive and efficient in a very short space of time.

Right now though it’s time to prepare for the harvest (cleaning the crates, buckets and carrying hods, maintaining the tractors, etc.) …….. and to enjoy a few days of well-earned holiday…”

Nicolas Jaboulet, Guillaume Sorrel and Alexandre Caso

Now, returning to the day job, take a look, in the next post, at my review of the latest Tesco offers and arrivals – which include an Australian take on the prime Rhone blend, but from the Souuthern Rhone this time.


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