In conjunction with our finding a vineyard in Burgundy (Part 1 & Part 2), there is another story to tell in our unfolding wine making saga in France. This story began at a similar time, and developed along side, the discovering of SAFER and all we undertook with them.
As part of living in France, we had obviously been working to improve our language skills. This meant talking to our neighbours, who were few and far between. So it seemed doubly important we be on a good footing with them.
The French are wonderful about inviting you around for drinks and nibbles of an early evening (called an Apero) to get to know each other. And in our case it was a good chance to practise our developing French, or sometimes their English. Either way, discussions about vineyards were generally soon to crop up. It was very heart warming how much everyone wanted to assist us.
A Dream Dawns
It was at a reciprocal drinks and nibbles with some neighbours that we were told of a nearby Chateau that had vines that were going to the birds, literally. It was possible the owners might be willing to let us have the grapes, rather than the birds and bees, to make into wine. Would we like an introduction? Can birds and bees fly?!
Online introductions made, interest expressed in our involvement and we arranged a meeting with Chateau le Barreau to see the vineyard and discuss options. By this time, it was mid-September, so we were slightly optimistic that we might actually be able to make wine this year.
The lay of the land
We met and were told the vineyard had come with the purchase of the Chateau, which is run as a B&B and with self-catering gites. Given that we were in the midst of wine country we could understand the aesthetic reasoning behind having a vineyard adding to the atmosphere of the place.
There were three types of grapes planted in 1.5 hectares; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. It’s the classic combination for a sparkling wine. Currently a gardener mowed between the vines, but essentially that was about it. Yes, the grapes were honestly going to the birds.
Finding a vineyard in Burgundy
Then we saw the vineyard. To say the birds were given free range was an understatement. Not only birds, but bees, bugs, moulds, mildews and weeds. It was going to be a project and a half.
We were offered the grapes, as well as a small winery on premises to use. In exchange of taking care of the grapes, we were to provide a few bottles of the wine for their guests if we were successful. We were asked if we were interested?
We thought for a moment…
A chance to work a vineyard with 12 year old vines? Okay in bad condition, but still 12 year old vines, and with essentially no outlay? An initial free step on the path to our dream? Sure with lots and lots and lots (did I mention lots) of work ahead? That would be a definitive, YES!