Today marks the end of my first week working at Vignobles Lataste in Cadillac, France. This week was full of new experiences for me. I certainly have a much higher appreciation for what it takes to create and deliver a unique and eloquent bottle of wine.
On Tuesday I spent the morning bottling bottles of rosé that needed to be delivered (you can read more about this experience in my previous blog). Tuesday afternoon Mikael and I drove to Bordeaux to deliver several boxes of organic wine to an organic grocery store. Since Wednesday was May first, the entire country had the day off for labor day so I did not work at the vineyard. I did, however, explore the area with one of the women who also works at the vineyard, Françoise, to see some of the famous Châteus in the area. My favorite was Châteu D’Yquem because of its aesthetique beauty and traditional castle that sits on a hill overlooking hundreds of acres of vine. On Thursday I was back at the vineyard to do some more typical farm work. The task was to remove all buds growing on the lower part of the vines and to remove all weeds from neighboring soil. This process is necessary for a few reasons. For starters, grapes will only completely grow when they bud from new wood. Any grape that originates from the older wood on the wine will not be fruitful and takes away from the precious nutrients that is necessary for proper grape growth. This must be done by hand, paying special attention to each and every vine. In a single day of work, hundreds of vines will be cared for. This is truly back breaking work as each vine is only about three feet tall and you must either squat or end over every time you tend to a vine. By the end of the night I was left feeling like my back was repeatedly bludgeoned by a bat. Luckily for me Friday was a calmer day in and out of the office. I started my day with packing more boxes with bottled and labeled wine then checked for proper amounts of inventory to ensure that their are no delays when orders arise.
It is safe to say that this week was certainly educational. Its fascinating the amount of manual labor that is required in a process that seems possible to automate. Perhaps this is why wine has retained such high value as a cultural icon in such a progressive world. Wine represents tradition and its roots run as deep as civilization itself. The simple fact that organic and biodynamic farming is the obvious choice for many vineyards nowadays should be an indication to the world that chemicals are no longer a viable option for creating a strong product.
I look forward to what next week has to offer!