Harvest in the Roussillon

By

Jeff Harding
The scene in Roussillon, a wine-producing region in Southwest France
The scene in Roussillon, a wine-producing region in Southwest France

On my recent tour of southwest France, I was finally able to visit my friends Carrie and Marcel at Domaine des Enfants in the Roussillon. My trip happened to be toward the end of September, which fellow wine lovers will recognize as harvest, so I was lucky enough to see the behind-the-scenes of wine-making in a rustic corner of the world.

Despite how busy they were with harvest, Carrie and Marcel still made time for me (side note: I highly recommend making friends with winemakers.) It was a truly incredible experience. Highlights include, but are not limited to: touring the scrubland hillside vineyards (a tough go in my rental car), seeing grey schist up close, and watching pigeage à la main (manual punchdown) in demi-muid.

The mostly-Spanish pickers camp out near the winery, in campers and little huts built for this purpose. The harvest crew doesn’t always eat together, but they try to throw a few parties during harvest, followed by an end-of-harvest feast. A typical dinner during harvest is grilled Catalan sausage, homemade aïoli, and grilled vegetables. Couscous, bread, Spanish beer and the Domaine’s wine rounds out the meal.

The harvest party at harvest's end is the biggest and best. Everybody pitches in, so in addition to the grilling, the Spanish crew makes their local specialty, Fideua (similar to paella) and Marcel, being Swiss, makes a big Raclette. Oh, and beer. There's lots (and lots) of Spanish beer. Salud!

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