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Day 2- Wine Harvest at Chateau Pontet Canet, France- Wandering Pauillac and best light of day

Saturday on the estate is quiet and no harvesting is happening, which gives me good opportunity to take photos of the stillness of the operations, the vineyard and the property.  Awakening to a distant sound of birds, and the clock in the courtyard which strikes on the hour and on the half hour. We again opt to skip breakfast, as I spend quite a lot of time at night shooting nightscapes which keep us out late, and getting familiar with how differently things appear in the darkness. The beautifully manicured lawn immediately in front of the Chateau is watered and mowed very frequently, and dodging the automatic night sprinklers has proven to be an art in itself.

We flew the drone quite extensively today, flying it slowly towards the front of the estate, over the grapes, back over the courtyard, and at the setting sun. We walked deep into the vineyard to plan shots, look for mature vines bearing ample bunches of grapes, all displaying the waxy natural coating they produce themselves, called bloom. This bloom coating protects the grapes from decaying and losing moisture! Chateau Pontet Canet is a completely certified, bio-dynamic producer, meaning that absolutely no chemicals at any point are *ever* sprayed on the grapes or vines. Instead they rely on a homeopathic mixture, a spray infusion of flowers to prevent mildew and other diseases, but it presents interesting challenges each year to produce the best harvest. Manure is used as compost and the stones found naturally in the soil, which in turn are tread upon by the horses pulling carts, are later crushed to create the cement Amphoras I spoke of previously.

With operations on pause for the weekend, we took a wander of about 1km into the nearby town of Pauillac. Stopping at the first shop to grab a warm baguette, we continued into this sleepy town with a small waterfront of restaurants, and a small little amusement park set up at the end of the promenade. Gypsy carnies walked around, perhaps operators of the various small Ferris wheels and rides, and just a handful of locals peppered the streets. The water front was rather different than other french coastal cities I’ve visited, the water was very muddy! The tide was out and small little vessels tied to the docks were motionless in very little water to float them. We stopped and had a delicious pizza to change things up from eating at the estate, and both of us enjoyed the beautiful crisp thin crust and mine was covered in Roquefort cheese and mushrooms. Delish!

Today’s warm temperature afforded us a beautiful setting sun, and the vineyards were basked in gorgeous golden light we hastily worked to capture in some of my photos and video footage. Beautiful rose bushes aligned along the edges of each row of grapes provide a pleasing interspersing of colour against the green and again spoke to the loving care the grapes of Chateau Pontet Canet receive each year. A groundskeeper spends hours raking the gravel that decorates the walkway outside the Chateau, and the grand white wooden gate is immaculately painted and glossy in the golden light.  The vines begin to speak to autumn’s changing colours, and crumpled maple leaves and acorns adorn the walkways and grass as one walks along. It gave me pause to look down at what small hard object I was kicking, and I picked up and admired a couple acorns, something you don’t find a lot of in Alberta!

 

Each morning I spot people far in the distance who have somehow arrived in our vineyard by car, out inspecting the grapes (perhaps sampling some?). This is something I want to ask our hosts about- is this permitted and welcomed? Or have they somehow trespassed onto the grounds? Interesting and I’ll report back my findings at a later post!

Perhaps they have noted the different look to Pontet Canet’s vineyards in that their vines are not trimmed down to a uniformed length like all of the neighbouring vineyards. Instead, we were told, they are allowed to grow and extend in their natural way, to further encourage a truly organic growth process not to be interfered by human hands. If this doesn’t have you intrigued to try their spectacular wine offerings, it will as I progress with the story here!

Thank you for reading, and I’d love your comments.

 

 

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Christy

An internationally published travel, night sky and lifestyle photographer currently based in Calgary. Christy will be traveling to Bordeaux, France in fall 2018 to photograph a 10-day organic wine harvest as a photographer representing Canadian artists!

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