I can’t remember if this is the 5th or 6th vendange for the Celliers des Troubadours. It’s the 4th one since I moved to Domneuve. For the first time they picked grapes on Sunday, working all day. It was still dark when the mechanical picker set off and it was almost dark when the last tractor arrived pulling a wagon full of grapes.
Very unusual in this part of France for people to work on Sunday.
It’s because of the weather. This summer was very dry. The unpicked grapes were already starting to shrivel on the vine when the vendange started. No telling in advance what the wine will be like. It could be terrific. Or not.
Not good for the grapes so everyone is trying to get them in as quickly as possible before they have time to start developing mold or rotting. It’s unlikely that these grapes will end up in an AOC wine, more likely to be vin de pays, vin de table, or vin ordinaire.
Making wine, like any agricultural activity, is a crapshoot. And Mother Nature is a fickle partner.
Every year during the vendange in the Corbieres I notice more mechanical pickers on the road. It’s hard to get vendangeurs (people to pick the grapes) and more and more producers are turning to mechanical grape harvesters. There’s probably a technical name for these huge machines but they look like sci-fi robots to me.
No passing them on the narrow roads, just relax and plan to spend a bit more time getting from place to place during the vendange.