I made a tactical error with my vacation planning this year: because of work and other obligations, we decided to forego an August getaway in favor of a late September trip. Right now I’m seriously regretting that choice. My office is a ghost town, New York is sticky as all get-out, and Paul and I feel like the only suckers left in the city. However, there is one big silver lining here: end of September is right around harvest time in Bandol, a town in Provence where we’ll be spending part of vacation. The region makes a ton of rosé wines, but Bandol also has a reputation for serious, long-lived reds.
I’ve visited a bunch of wine regions (Alsace, Bordeaux, Loire, Sonoma, Napa, and, of course, Long Island) but I’ve never had the opportunity to check out a winery during harvest. I’m not sure what to expect, beyond lots of frenetic activity and harried-looking winemakers. (I’m also having visions of being stuck behind poky, grape-laden trucks on dusty, narrow country roads, but as my husband does the driving, I’m going to let him stress about that.) I’ve already emailed a few of the vineyards I’d like to visit — more on those in an upcoming post — asking if I need to make an appointment in advance as it will be such a busy time of year. Many wineries in France, which aren’t as tourist-friendly as those in the US, require you to make a reservation, and I think it’s always a good idea to call ahead if you’re visiting a winery — you can ask about special events and find out what time of day is least crowded. (Word to the wise: wherever you are, do everything you can to avoid visiting a vineyard on a summer Saturday afternoon. )
I’ve already received some kind responses, including from one courtly winemaker (seriously — his dad is a Count) who thanked me for my “délicatesse.” Say what you want about the French, they certainly have a way with words…and wine, of course. Stay tuned for more on my vineyard trip planning, including tips to help you get more out of your own wine travels.