The Margaux appellation, located in the Médoc wine region of France, is renowned for its prestigious, elegant wines. Among the many viticultural practices that contribute to the exceptional quality of this region’s wines, manual harvesting occupies a central place. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why Margaux grand cru estates, such as Cantenac Brown, favor manual harvesting, highlighting the benefits for both grape quality and winemaking tradition.
Preserving grape quality
Harvesting by hand offers superior grape quality to mechanized methods. By choosing to harvest grapes by hand, grape-pickers can meticulously sort each bunch, eliminating grapes of inferior quality, such as those affected by rot or disease. This rigorous selection ensures that only the ripe, healthy grapes essential to the production of great wines are harvested.
Respect for terroir and vines
Terroir, i.e. all the geological, climatic and agronomic conditions of a vineyard, is an essential factor in the production of a quality wine. Hand-picking allows winegrowers to closely observe each vineyard plot and harvest grapes at their peak of ripeness. This proximity to the vines also facilitates early detection of signs of water stress, disease or nutritional problems, enabling winegrowers to intervene quickly to protect the health of the vines.
Tradition and craftsmanship
The Grand Cru Classé estates in the Margaux appellation are renowned for their centuries-old winegrowing traditions and their attachment to craftsmanship. Hand-picking is a deeply rooted part of this tradition, handed down from generation to generation. The grape-pickers, often experienced and passionate workers, bring invaluable know-how when harvesting the grapes. Their expertise enables them to make informed choices in the field, such as the optimum harvesting time for each plot, depending on how the grapes are maturing.
Impact on winemaking
Hand-harvested grapes are generally in optimal condition when they arrive at the winery, thanks to the delicate handling they have received throughout the harvest. The quality of the grapes enables top-level vinification, providing winemakers with excellent raw materials to express the unique potential of each terroir. Hand-picked grapes are also less likely to be damaged, reducing the risk of premature oxidation or other undesirable alterations.
In the Margaux appellation, manual harvesting is a deliberate choice, motivated by the constant quest for excellence and quality. By preserving the purity and health of the grapes, respecting the terroir and the vines, and perpetuating an age-old winemaking tradition, manual harvesting contributes to the worldwide renown of wines from this region. Ultimately, consumers can enjoy these exceptional wines, which are the result of a harmonious marriage between nature, tradition and human expertise.