It didn’t rain at all last night. It’d be good if that trend carried through the day.
It’s 6 A.M., the sky is cloudy but from time to time the clouds disperse to reveal the moon, still almost full.
The Bouzy vendangeoir, where I come to have my coffee, is starting to buzz. A new day of harvest begins.
At last, it’s a beautiful day. Clouds roll through the sky, leaving plenty of room for the sun to shine. I’ll spend a large part of the day with the grape pickers on the Bouzy “terroir,” accompanied by Romain Le Guillou, because the Maison is filming a movie. Apparently, they want to capture the memory of my last harvest, and the final moments of this special time; it has taken several years to transmit my duties as vineyard director onto my successor.
In the morning, La Patrouille de France – the nation’s aerial display Air Force – puts on a show, spreading a magnificent tri-colored plume through the Bouzy sky. One of the pilots in the prestigious air formation is a friend of our Director of Oenology, Innovation and Communication. The two were behind this dramatic idea to so beautifully salute our harvesters.
The grapes are as beautiful and healthy as always, calming our fears that the recent rains had hurt their condition. Cool nighttime and early morning temperatures, along with no new rainfall, have helped keep signs of rotting to a minimum.
Over the course of the afternoon, we welcome 7 teams lodging in Verzenay, Bisseuil, Avize and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Counting the 3 other teams that arrived last week, this means we have 10 hosted teams, or 500 people, harvesting for us. Last year, we lodged 14 teams, or 670 people.
Since last year’s harvest we have completely revamped our grape gatherers’ accommodations, increasing the surface area allotted for each bed. Our gatherers are even more spread out within each bedroom now.
This year we have fewer grape pickers come from our usual recruitment areas – the Lorraine region and the North – and we’ve hired more locally-recruited gatherers. We’ve now recruited 36 teams, or 320 grape pickers, from Champagne and its surrounding vineyards.
The “Pay Ladies” are having dinner at the Mesnil-sur-Oger vineyard, as they do every year. One or two people from the payroll department come to each lodging site to help with the administrative tasks that go with the grape pickers’ arrival. They’re no more surprised about what’s on the menu than the gatherers are: it’s the same every year. But why change a good thing? So we eat fusilli salad with surimi, chicken filets à la crème, French-fried potatoes, morbier (an excellent cheese from the Jura region) and chocolate éclairs.