Goodbye France, Merci Beaucoup!

May 09, 2019

Welcome back Everyone,

Today is a bittersweet, as it marks the end of a two week journey that have I embarked on to immerse myself within a foreign culture to learn about a foreign process. I’ve had to do it all here from back-breaking manual labor to translating during wine tastings (more to come on that later). While I am most definitely happy to be coming home tomorrow I will certainly miss the people who I have spent the past two weeks building relationships with. At the beginning of this trip, if you had asked me the significance of coming to France to study wine I may have just said because it was helpful for my project. This trip, however, has become much more than I ever could have foreseen. I will always look back at this experience as the mark of my first steps into adulthood. Now, let me tell you about what my last week in France at Vignobles Lataste had in store for me.

On Monday morning I was back in the vines. Working in a team of three, myself, Fatima, and Christophe work to again remove all the buds from the old wood on each individual vine. During this time I got my first real taste of Bordeaux spring weather as the temperature went from 35 degrees fahrenheit to 60 degrees fahrenheit in just under two hours. After around 5 hours in the vines it was finally time for my one hour lunch break. In the afternoon, we headed to another Vignobles Lataste vineyard to de-bud vines in another region. However this time, we were working with a new vine species and we were tasked with one extra step to our process. This time we needed to remove any stems that were connected to the same root as another stem. Unfortunately, Christophe had to go buy supplies for another task so Fatima and I were left to do the work alone. By the end of the night I passed out in bed as this was absolutely the most difficult day yet.

Tuesday I was back in the office to simply help with managerial stuff, or so I thought.  I arrived at the office to find out that there were Filipino tourists, who spoke English, at the vines and they wanted a wine tasting. Mikael and I went to meet them and informed the tourists that they were to follow us back to Le Chai, were storage and tastings are held, to have the tasting. Once at Le Chai, I played an integral role as translator between the tourists and my French coworkers. This was an excellent experience for me as I practiced my French in a practical manner as well as seeing how certain, better, bottles are marketed to those who come through the doors. It was interesting to see how better vintages were offered to be tasted over vintages that may not have been as fruitful. Wednesday was another public holiday so I spent the day with Laurence and her family in Bordeaux where we went to the movie theater to see Avengers: Endgame.

And finally Thursday, my last day, came around. One of the most important parts of a winery is presentation. If the show room is in disarray, how will visitors know which wine is which, how much each wine cost, and which wines are most likely from a good vintage. Therefore, it was my job to arrange the showroom so that every wine was clearly displayed. Each type of wine was to be together and not mixed with other random wines next to it. For example, all the whites were placed next to each other, reds placed just in front of them in a similar fashion. It happened to be great timing that I had just rearranged the showroom as several Australian tourists arrived asking to try our wine. Again my linguistic skills came in handy while they tried the wine. The experience left me feeling very accomplished.

So now it is time to pack up and head home. This has been an incredible educational experience for me. I have truly learned the ins and outs of a small vineyard business in France. I have built lasting connections with people who I will always remember. Now it is time for my next adventure with Rex Farr at Organic Farrm Wines in Long Island, New York.

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