This time of year in Burgundy is really a bit of a transition of sorts. You can get the feeling of this shift even when speaking with people in the markets, the mechanics, and even business types in Dijon. All eyes begin to focus on the harvest, the subtle changes in weather, and generally grounded enough that you want see too many statements of confidence when addressing the potential quality resting in the clutches of the vines.
During harvest, the sleepy villages wake up in excitement, with tractors humming along, traffic becomes a real thing – a far cry from the open roadways we are treated to any other time of the year, and visitors line the vineyards taking photos and some get a bit closer, helping out during the pick. For this moment, Burgundy opens up like no other time in the year. So many different languages are able to be heard, along with a year-high of laughter and curse words from those of us shuffling from vineyard to our wineries. It is a special time, but this is, in all respects, the climax. This moment, this month, is when the tempo begins to increase.
Visiting a few of the vineyards today, I’ve noticed a bit of color springing up in the Côte de Nuits. Not a lot, yet with these first touches of color, we will feel more of a shift here. Rental trucks will be harder to find, harvest start dates become more detailed, equipment becomes sold out, barrel orders will need to be made or you may find yourself short and needing to scurry at the last minute with another cooper. Being timely is most certainly a make or break situation in Burgundy. We run out of things, and no money, begging or hindsight can correct for it. After you miss out on equipment, you will be forced to make due as your neighbor will be needing the same tools as you, and at the same time as well.
It is also easier to feel connected to the region at this time. During the rest of the year, it is easy to forget what this time actually feels like. This is not to look past the unending work which goes into taking care of the vineyards throughout the year. Though, this is something different. There is something that builds as the harvest approaches. In the next few weeks, the real Burgundy will feel much more apparent, with nearly everyone in the region wearing the anticipation of the harvest on their sleeves. As the grapes deepen in color, the intensity of the region will build. Once harvest comes, it will be over in a flash, arriving and passing by in just a few short weeks. It is always tempting to look back on the year and remember only the actual harvest, yet there is so much more to learn by paying attention to the fine detail in the manner in which the earliest notes of the symphony were struck.