Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I have arrived...

I just wanted to shoot off a quick blog to kick off a series of postings on my current whereabouts.

I arrived last Friday in France after a long two days of travel and made my way from Paris by train to Beaune, the center of the 'Cote d'Or' as they call it here. My boss picked me up from the train station and took me to my current home for the next two months. I'm living at the 'cuverie' or winery for Domaine de Montille, who I will be working for. I live upstairs in an apartment with the other interns or 'stagaires' as they're called here in France. There are two winemakers from Australia, one from California, and another from New Zealand arriving Friday. We have a live in chef from Tel Aviv Israel who arrived today. He works at a top restaurant back home and we are all excited to have him cooking all of our meals for us. The food here is amazing, quite hearty. Lots of cheese (epoisses is the stinkiest of stinky cheese but phenomenal when done right), breads, mustard, cassis, ham, mushrooms, escargots, beef bourgignon, and coq au vin. Did anyone say wine? I haven't tried anything too phenomenal yet but today we got to taste through 5 different chardonnays from the 2008 vintage that our winemaker made. Amazing to taste the same grape from the same vintage made by the same person at the same facility from completely different vineyards within the SAME relative region and they all taste COMPLETELY different. This is the true essence of what the French call Terrioir.

Work started on Tuesday and so far I've spent all of my time in the vineyards trimming weeds (my boss sent me out with the vineyard crew because none of them speak english and I'm the only one who can communicate in French from our crew). It's been tough work but quite amazing walking though vineyards steeped in so much history. As the way vineyards are classified here you have in ascending order of quality the 1)regional wines of Bourgogne, 2) the Villages wines (i.e. Meursault, Volnay, Pommard, Beaune) 3) The 1er cru wines 4) The Grand Cru wines (being the most prestigious). Ask bill to explain if you have any questions; it's rather confusing. I've spent the better part of the past two days in 1er and Grand Cru vineyards, pinot and chard vines with average ages of 30 to 40 years, each being worth well more than the money in my wallet. It's a wine geek's paradise. This morning we started at 6am to beat the heat and on the way out to the vineyard I could see the sun rising over Beuane and the Alps in the distance (A three hour drive away)!

Needless to say, I'm in for a great harvest. It's expected that our first fruit will start being picked next week already, which is early considering that last year it was mid-September. It will be a short but sweet harvest but I know I will learn heaps. My boss Brian, who is from California originally, told me today that he would like to put me in charge of 'les caves' which is actually quite a large responsibility. If this happens, I will oversee all of the barrel work: filling, washing, cleaning, transferring, stacking, etc. Assuming I don't spend the rest of the time in the vineyards I will be spending a lot of time underground in a moldy dark space steeped in history. It's crazy here because you see these houses in the middle of town where winemakers live but underneath are caves where they make and store their wines that you never could imagine existed.

Please ask questions and offer suggestions for topics you'd like to see me write about in the next two months. Email me at I want this to be as much of a learning experience for my readers as it is for me. Until the next time,

Happy #WineWednesday!