Bonjour Mon Amies! I am going to talk about wine, but first…. I have pretty much decided that I am in love with Saint Emilion, France. I mean seriously. One of the most charming places I have ever seen. To have a village with buildings that look like this, and then to have beautiful vineyards surrounding the village… how could you not be?! I will be able to spend more and more time in the village. I have been told that on Sunday after I attend Mass with the family I will have a free day all to myself. They have offered to chauffer me back and forth to the village from my Chateau so I will definitely be hanging in the village. Also, last night I attended the annual fireworks festival and it was spectacular. Madame Katrine and her husband took me to see the show in the sky at 9:30 pm. We sat on the steps of the Cathedral and watched the sky light up over the village. Beautiful music was playing and it was a complete “show.” Not just fireworks going off…but an actual symphony of lights! Then get this…. we went to Katrine’s very own restaurant with some of their french friends for a drink afterwards. YES. Katrine not only runs 4 vineyards and a large international wine company….but she also has a stunning restaurant in the village. You walk in with the limestone walls and beautiful lighting and feel as though you are in a fabulous wine-cellar. The lighting is dim, a full bar presents itself with lots of action, and chandeliers dangle from the ceiling. An impressive wine list (obviously) and delicious food served on chic, stained wooden tables with stone fireplace backdrops. How she does it?… this is my goal to find out. Oh and by the way….her husband is the Vice President of the University of Bordeaux and has nothing to do with the operations of the wineries or the restaurant. Katrine is a wonder woman…. and her husband (the nicest man) with an incredible position himself. Impressive people. Great connections I am making. Okay…. so onto the wine making! Wow! Who knew making wine was so intricate and absolutely HARD. To make good wine anyways… it is very complex. On my first day, I harvested the merlot grapes. We did a manual harvest this day…for the other vineyards we will use a machine to harvest. Katrine loves to have a manual harvest as it makes her wines artisan… however it is very laborious. Also, expensive for her to pay for all of that labor. The reason for manual harvest is high quality selection of grapes. We are literally taking gardening pliers and cutting the grapes off the vines. I also learned that Katrine’s wines are all organic. I LOVE this. So, a note about harvesting grapes. This is a very, very critical decision made by the wine maker. The winemaker needs to make sure the grapes are at optimum ripeness, but also needs to be careful not to have any rot on the vines, or to allow the grapes to be over-ripe. With overripeness, we would yield residual sugar which for certain wines is great…. but not for bold red wines. It takes skill to know the day to harvest, Katrine makes the call on this and then all of the wine managers get their people lined up to act on it. The winemakers have spent the entire year preparing these grapes for the harvest. This is a lot of pressure and to harvest too early will be detrimental to their business. We harvested merlot grapes from the Petite Gravet Vineyard on my first day. I have been eating merlot grapes right off the vine for my afternoon snack. Delicious! Okay, so after we harvest the grapes… they are transported to a super-duper machine in the winery. This machine de-stems the grapes as well as sorts the grapes only taking the quality grapes…. debris, sticks, insects and un-ripe grapes fall to the bottom of a vibrating table known as a sorter. It’s like magic. Thank GOD for machines otherwise we would not be drinking as much wine. For the most part, I spend my day with the Enologist (scientist) behind the wine at all of the vineyards. We analyze the wine and make adjustments depending on how the wine is reacting. I am learning so much! Sedreick (the Enologist) is in charge of all the tanks and barrels of wine at all four of the vineyards. Katrine owns the following vineyards…. Chateau Gaillard, Petit Gravet, Saint Julien, and Chateau Peyrou. Each vineyard is different ~ Gaillard being a large operation and Peyrou being a small boutique vineyard. Katrine’s home is located on Peyrou and it’s beautiful. Around 5 pm everyday, we have been tasting wines out of the barrels. YUM. My favorite so far has been the Saint Julien blend 2014 harvest of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. In the next post, I will begin to try to explain the science behind wine making 🙂 Off to test the tannin in the wine at Saint Julien…. I guess I am a country girl at heart!