Among the rows of meticulously tended vines stood a group of french harvesters, each with a basket slung over their arm and a pair of pruning shears in hand. They hailed from various corners of france, drawn together by the job of picking grapes for the champagne producer Denis Patoux. Together, they formed a close-knit community, united by their dedication to working towards picking the best grapes.
As the day advances they finish the plots and drive to new ones. Some tilted some flat, some long, some short. A variety og plots ensure quality and can help the producer adjust the taste of the champagne.
09:15 Time for the real breakfast.
The first breakfast didn't count, so now it's time for the real breakfast. This breakfast consists of freshly baked baguettes, charcuterie, butter, chocolate, candy. But most important of all, now we are allowed our first glass of champagne. This breakfast/ break lasts for 30 minutes so depending of how much champagne you drunk the night before, these 30 minutes can also be used as a nap.
As the day unfolded, the vineyard came alive with activity. The harvesters worked methodically, selecting only the best grapes, ensuring each cluster the standards of the producer. As they moved with a rhythm, hands dancing through the leaves, guided by a deep understanding of the grapes' readiness. The air was filled with the scent of grapes and other smells coming from the wines, sometimes the smells were not nice, as some grapes mold, but that part was expected. Especially for the Meunier, as is had been a difficult year for that grape.
Laughter and camaraderie echoed through the rows as the harvesters worked side by side. They swapped stories, shared jokes, and occasionally burst into song, their voices harmonizing with the rustling leaves. The sense of unity and purpose was as important to the process as the grapes themselves. I believe the spirit while picking the grapes goes a long way, maybe we will be able to taste it in a few years.
As the sun dipped lower in the sky, casting long shadows across the vineyard, the harvesters gathered their grapes and buckets and made their way to the grape press. Here, the grapes would be carefully stored, before being crushed, and transformed into the juice that later will become the champagne that we all love.
At the heart of the press, the scent of fermentation mingled with the anticipation of the final product. The grapes were gently pressed, their juice trickling into stainless steel tanks, where it would undergo a carefully monitored fermentation process. The artistry of the harvesters continued as they oversaw this delicate transformation, ensuring that each batch received the attention it deserved. While indulging in the draft beer which has been set up for the harvesters and the neighbors which came by to see and hear how the harvest is going.
As the day drew to a close, a sense of satisfaction settled over the vineyards. The harvesters, tired but fulfilled, gathered after having a shower for a homecooked meal and the dining room of Denis Patoux, Sometimes at 20:00 and other times at 22:00. They drink water because it is important to stay hydrated when you are working all day in the heat. While eating there is an amazing ambience around the table, as the grape pickers laugh while sharing stories of the day.
Each day every picker picks around 5-700kg of grapes, that is a number which is hard to understand as it is A LOT of grapes. Now you might think "How many kg grapes is used for one champagne bottle?" a 75cl bottle uses 1,2 kg grapes, which means every picker picks grapes corresponding to 416-583 bottles of champagne every day. That number seems amazing.
As the day finishes at the champagne producer, the whole team get together to party. And there is enough champagne in the fridges. There is even more than we can drink, so all night the team plays games. Drinking champagne, laughing, dancing and listening to music. What a experience! and it was amazing partying and listening to the different stories from all over france, and it was fun to share champagne knowledge with likeminded people. And some nights the party lasted till the early morning, which made the harvest a little more difficult. But it was all a part of the experience.
The harvest ended with a grape fight in the fields. And later a party to celebrate that we have picked and pressed about 90 tons of grapes in our team, which is a huge number. So everybody were very pleased.
Thank you for reading along. And if you are more interested in Denis Patoux, check out our selection of their champagnes here.
Denis Patoux champagne.