Bottles up!

After many days of vine maintenance, it was time to move on to the world of bottling. There was a ton to do, so we had to have all hands on deck. Even my dad (white shirt in the photo below) drove an hour south to help. The bottling machine is actually rented, so we only had a day to achieve our goal. It was Go! Go! Go! We had a lot to get done in a short amount of time.

In the foreground, you can see a pallet of wine bottles. Those bad boys are all empty, each pallet contains 1,800 bottles, and our aim was to finish bottling at least 10 pallets! This may sound like an insane amount, but time flies in the company of the Jung family. 

Periodically, Thierry would grab a bottle off the production line and pour everyone a glass. Now you weren't reeeeally allowed to take a break of course, so you would take all opportunities to snag small sips.

The welcomed break came at our French lunch: baguettes, cheese, pate, saucisson, and of course wine. The only way in which it wasn't French was the time allotted. Instead of stopping at noon to sit down for an hour, we had about thirty minutes while Thierry changed the cask from which we were bottling. But like I said, we had a set deadline.

By the end of the day, we had reached our goal. Tomorrow we get to resume our regular French lunches. 

Burckel-Jung, take 1

The first stop on my adventure is in Aslace, learning from our wonderful winery partner, Domaine Burckel-Jung. The winery is run by husband and wife, Danielle and Thierry Jung and their son, David. They have vines in many different places in the Bas-rhin in order to have ideal soil for each grape varietal. They grow every Alsatian grape varietal and produce every Alsatian wine there is, their work includes crémants, "Vendanges Tardives", selections of "Grains Nobles " as well as the Grand Cru Moenchberg. Burckel-Jung is based in Gertwiller, one of five communes that is allowed to grow Klevener de Heilingenstein. I think this will be the best place to start my winery learning journey. I feel like there is a new combined word we could make up there, my "learny wourney" needs some work. 

Yesterday, my first day, was spent pruning the vines, which opened my eyes to how difficult a job this can be - especially Pinot Gris...damn you Pinot Gris. I swear you would think you're in a jungle; if a vine isn't smacking you in the face it's jumping up to trip you. 

I was so nervous to dive right into this, but when I said that to David, he replied  "coupe pas les raisin" (don't cut the grapes).  Ha! Got it. The practice of pruning is known here as the 'taille en vert'. The two photos, below, show one row that hasn't been pruned and one that has been completed. The process involves eliminating the branches that will not produce grapes and maneuvering the ones that will back into the trellis system.

It’s important to prune like this, because it ensures that the vine is focusing all of its energy into growing grapes. Which is how we get perfect looking bunches of grapes. like these.

On day 2, we moved on to another aspect of vine maintenance. This might not seem like the most exciting thing and that's because it isn't, but all of these steps make amazing wine and THAT is exciting. The picture below is a field of two-year-old vines that five of us worked on for hours hoeing and weeding between each row and each vine. Young vines need regular upkeep to mature and eventually produce the desired grapes. 

Day 2 is done and I end it with the tiniest bit more confidence than I had when I arrived.