I had just dropped, unplanned, for a few minutes and the intention to just say hello to Jean and Agnès Foillard on my way to visit France Gonzalvez.
It was lunch time and it happened to be the last harvest day at Foillard. All the pickers plus the cellar staff were eating in the usual room, the place was packed and additional tables had been set up to seat everybody. When I walked in, I said hello to Agnès who was taking care of the kitchen with another woman, and I saluted Jean who was sitting among the pickers. I'm sorry for not having taken any picture, I somehow was shy and didn't want to disturb all these people who had worked hard in the morning. That's too bad because the scene with all these people enjoying their meal was very photogenic, there was even among the pickers a young woman with a hat made out leaves and foliage, she looked so nice like these autumn queens (Королева Осени or Koroleva oseni) in Russia who wear such headgear made of yellow and red leaves. I asked Jean if she was the queen of the harvest, he said that every year she'd sport a headgear like that.
Whatever, self-restraint made me miss great potential pictures on this last harvest lunch, but Jean told me to visit later the afternoon when I would be available and I came back to see what they were doing.
These grape containers are very large, they're similar in size to the comportes and bénatons which were commonly used in the early 20th century, like the ones you can see on a couple of pictures on this page featuring the harvests around 1930. Like their period equivalents, these containers seem to have handles at both ends to facilitate their moving by two workers.
The reason Jean Foillard works this way (with a forklift) is that he doesn't want to use any pumps of belt conveyors to fill the carbonic-maceration fermenters : the whole-clustered grapes must be intact when they get into the vats. Even for a pumping-over, he'll use the forklift to bring the juice over the vat, not a pump (see this story - scroll down to the 7th picture, I was surprised when I saw that), which is a lot more work as it involves several people. I understand that every single of these details is important, because this way the grapes or the juice isn't subjected to any violent process (pump or belt conveyor) that might hurt it one way or another. I think that the sum of these details, added to samely demanding attention in the vineyard management and picking makes a big difference at the end.
Now things will be more relaxed, I ask Jean, he says yes, having to manage 40 people (including 27 pickers) during 15 days is a lot of work. The pickers were all housed in the bed & breakfast of Jean & Agnès which is the building left hand when you pass the gate, it's very comfortable and there's a very nice kitchen and lounge too.
Jean Foillard also brought a Morgon 2012 from his cellar, also a bottle with only a few chalk signs on it. That was a great wine with even more depth and length. I can't believe he opens bottles like these so easily, there must be a queue of trainees applying to work here...
These wines were so good, I didn't even restrain myself although I had to drive back to my sister's place in Chalon-sur-Saone in Burgundy after then, it wouldn't be that late anyway and the breath checks usually take place much later in the evening. I arrived safely in Chalon after a one-hour drive, I love this job...