Cognac harvest days, the crunch time

After a year of hard work, hoping that the weather conditions would be nice enough till the cognac harvest time, the single most important decision of the winegrower   is to choose the right day to begin harvest. It looks like  a very subtle balance betweeen professionnal skills and intuition, and requires a fair amount of experience. Needless to say that it’s a nerve-wracking period,  especially when the weather has played unkind tricks like this year in cognac vineyards.

In fact, a quite tricky year for cognac vineyards and cognac winegrowers. Frost on springtime,  then 3 sudden hails storms, occur a lot of damages on the vineyards. Some winegrowers have suffered important losses, as they got both frost and hail storm. For them, grape harvest began early at the end of september. For the others, kick off on 3rd october. Usually taking place  in october in cognac vineyards, harvest time spreads out betweeen one and three weeks  depending from the importance of the vineyards,  the situation, the ripeness of the grapes…  The interprofessionnal organization, called BNIC (Bureau Interprofessionnel du Cognac) and its technical department estimate a date of starting-up, but each winegrower is the right man/woman to decide of his/her due date.

A magic moment for the winegrowers, the result of a year of work and patience.

Both, men and equipments have to operate at the peak of performance. From dawn to sunset, it’s an on-going traffic from the vineyards to the wine press and cellar. Even if they are overstretched, they wouldn’t miss this moment for anything in the world…

Sign of this particular period is on, for everbody living here, is the endless back and forth of the harvesting machines playing their mechanical dance above the rows : a special moment even for persons who are not involved in cognac.

Difficult to explain this particular atmosphere, much more easy to live it…Everybody works at his right place and knows what he has to do, in a mixed feeling of stress and excitation. Usually, we find the boss near the press wine and the vats…. Nevertheless it’s really an authentic team-work day after day, and a nice human experience.

Grapes in, wine out.

From grapes to wine, from harvesting machine to fermentation vats,  all theses operations must be achieved in 4 hours maxi. Everything must going right, it’s why september is a very busy month too. More about in  my previous post.

Discover in video the harvest in cognac as if you were on-site.

First of all in the  vineyards, the endless choregraphy of the pair : harvesting machine and  tractor


Thousands and thousands of grapes unloaded  here, one trailer each 15′



The touchy step of the press wine



First control, many others will follow


In no time at all, wine arrives in decantation vat for a short time, before flowing to fermentation vat : the “piano” of the boss, a dispatching device for input and output. No failure is authorized !

livingincognac-harvest-2016 - the piano


The fermentation vats, this one is soon half-full.

livingincognac - harvest 2016 fermentation vat


The day I was there, a pleasant smell of “daube” with small carrots escaped from the “kitchen workshop” nearby the cellar, a great moment at noon with all the team….


During these weeks, from early morning to late in afternoon, depending of weather, the same operations take place. Nevertheless, every day is different and need the utmost care. The quality of the cognac appreciated worldwide begins here, in this very first minutes of harvest.

A very nice human story of passion. Thanks to all my friends who welcomed me during harvest.


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