Aloxe-Corton home of The Domaine Michel Voarick

Welcome to the top of the Hill of Corton - where I spent my holiday helping to pick some grapes and thoroughly enjoying the beautiful French country and the fabulous French cities.  I was the guest of my bon amis, Aleth and Paul and Aleth's family.  I was welcomed and treated so wonderfully - it was a moving and delightful experience that I shall treasure always.
The crew starts at dawn - we head to the section selected for picking and unload as the sun starts its ascent.
We pick the bunched at the bottom and middle of the vines leaving any that have grown on the very top.  The vines are not tall and we work close to the can be very hard on the knees and back at the end of the day.
We are working on the Hill of Corton and the vines run up and down the hills keeping us always working on a slant.
The leaves are large and you often have to tear them away to uncover the grapes and even then you still have to feel around for a bunch or to locate a stem to cut - being careful not to cut your own finger in the process.
I believe I am stopping not only for the photo but to draw a full lung full of air.  The crew works fast up the row and I try to keep up - don't want the old gal slowing down the harvest.
The views are everywhere and so lovely, even now that I am home they pop unbidden into my mind's eye and I see the valleys and feel the sun, or even the mist...this is a beautiful and pastoral place...
All ages participate in this harvest, I am not the oldest by any means... if my French had been better I could have bantered with the person picking the row next to mine
This lady comes with her son each year, I believe she is Basque  I just thought she was pretty...and inscrutable.
So this is what we are after, Chardonnay - it is either chardonnay or Pinot Noir here, nothing else.  These are sweet and have seeds but oh, my! do they make some wine...
They hide under the big leaves and we have to hunt them up to pick them.
Each picker has a bucket like this one to fill and when it is full it gets emptied into a bin like the one below
This bin, when full, will weigh about 80 pounds and a porter will come and haul it off to the truck
The porters wear pads on one shoulder to give them some protection from the bins
And here is the whole crew assembled for a group photo.  Paul is the crew boss and he says this year he has a great crew... and I agree, they do seem like a great group of folks.

And here they are, folks.   Pinot Noir.  This is what the fuss is really all about...
When they grapes come back to the Winery, they are transferred into these oak vats.  You can see here how large they are.  

Forget I Love Lucy  no women stomp any grapes here.  In fact no real stomping goes on at all.  But there is a great deal of mixing done by men and they do use their feet. 

If you ever made your own cranberry sauce or any jam using fresh fruit, you will recall that the solid material tends to rise to the top of the mixture and so it is in the wine.  This solid stuff is called the cap and it must be broken and mixed back into the main material.
So now it is the end of the harvests and the workers come as guests to the harvest banquet.  Here are Alain and Pasqual.  A pair of charming men.  Alain is a wit and it was a great sorrow to me that my French wasn't good enough to allow me to follow his banter.  All the young girls love him because he has joked and flirted with them throughout the harvest.  Pasqual has a good wit too but he saves it to share with the guys.
The harvest dinner begins with an aperitif of Kir or white wine or port.  There is lots of  cocktail party chat, I even made some small talk with a few of the young girls. Aleth has taken photos throughout the harvest and now has prints on the board with numbers attached to them - each person can order copies of the photos they want and she will mail them out to them later.  People look for themselves and their friends...
In the center is Laurence who has prepared this feast with the help of Griselde on her left.  Aleth and Christine stand to her right and Victor Voarick the 4th generation of this wine making family is here too.
Juan leans of the truck as Jean-Marc, Jean-Jacques and Pasqual smoke and talk
And here is our host, Michel Voarick, the patriarch of this wonderful family ready to receive his guests and workers with a toast and some news:  The grapes they have harvested will produce a very fine wine, he believes based on the early analysis.  He congratulates everyone on a job well done.
Alain calls us in to dine with the French horn.  He is a hunter and is another time might have played this horn to summon his dogs, but now he just calls us to feast.
I, of course, reward his playing with a kiss, which he accepts as his due while keeping his eye on the young girl behind the camera

There were about 40 of us at the feast and the food was fabulous, wild game and lots of fresh veggies and yummy dessert 
All the men were charming and I don't think it was just because I couldn't understand them either.  As you can see I am having a good time.
And the wine flowed...they just kept opening bottles from the cellars
Just as we were about to sit down to the great feast, who should arrive but everyone's favorite globe-trotting Irishman, Bartley O'Brien
Of course it is always a delight to see Bartley and this time was no different

We walked the hills together, tasted the grapes, toured the towns and he made us a fabulous vegetarian lunch
As always, as cute as can be...

And a dear and loving friend.
And in the days following the great feast we continued the same schedule of work followed by good fellowship.