It's the most exciting time of year at the vineyard - harvest began quite early, in the second week of August, for some of our Chardonnay vineyards in St Chinian. Viognier is next to be harvested, followed by our Albarino and Sauvignon Blanc in Auzines. In our Corbières domaine, harvest always starts about 3 weeks later than the warmer vineyards in St Chinian, owing to the higher altitude and cool, morning breezes.
There was significant and well-documented hail damage throughout France in 2021, which also saw reduced volumes in the Languedoc, especially across the white wines. This year, the heatwaves we experienced in June and July have impacted on our Albarino crop, but we won't know the extent of the impact until we harvest in another week or so. In the Rhône, there was a recent, devastating bout of hail, which especially affected winegrowers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape , and the crop has been decimated. Our thoughts are with them - it's truly heart-breaking to see a year's work wiped out in a single afternoon. Unexpected weather events like these are the biggest fear of all growers, as there's little we can do to save the crop when they happen.
We are pleased with progress on the harvest so far - the weather remains stable with warm, sunny days and a slight drop in temperatures at night, especially compared to a few weeks ago. We harvest by night, which retains freshness in the grapes, as the sugar levels drop at night and acidity is higher than during the day. The team work around the clock on shift to ensure that we pick as quickly and efficiently as possible, once the grapes reach optimum ripeness. Laurent is busy going around all of the vineyards with his team, carrying out assessments to make sure the picking happens at the right time. It's important to get them to the winery as quickly as possible for sorting, before the winemaking process of pressing and fermentation begins.