Editor’s Note: For the next couple of weeks, Winederlusting contributor Tom Davey — who is the Sales Manager for Chateau Gaby in Canon-Fronsac, Bordeaux — will be documenting the 2016 harvest in almost real-time on the blog. This is a very special time of year in the wine world for the Northern Hemisphere. It’s even more of a treat to experience the harvest vicariously through Tom’s anecdotes.  

Chateau Gaby Bordeaux 2016 Harvest

A beautiful morning greets happy harvesters on Friday at Chateau Gaby in Canon-Fronsac, Bordeaux.

Bordeaux 2016 Harvest Blog

Chateau Gaby, AOC Canon-Fronsac, Bordeaux’s Right Bank

An Introduction

The Gaby estate was founded in 1660 on the hilltops of Canon-Fronsac, a wine growing area situated 15 mins from Saint Emilion and benefiting from the same infamous limestone dominated Terroir  which the Merlot grape loves so dearly on Bordeaux’s Right Bank.

Today, Gaby is farmed organically by Manager and Winemaker Damien Landouar and his small team. The wines are made with love, care, character and with a smile on our faces!

I have lived and worked on this estate for the last 4 years and hope to bring the joyful scenes of a harvest or ‘vendange’ closer to you… please enjoy, share and visit us one day! You can subscribe to the Winederlusting Blog Feed to receive updates as new posts are published.

First Day of Bordeaux Harvest 2016 at Chateau Gaby in Canon-Fronsac

Early afternoon on Thursday.

Day 1 – THURSDAY 06/10/16

9AM — Inspection of the two last ‘controles de maturite’ — or ripeness tests for the Gaby vineyard and our 8ha (19,7 acres) at Chateau Moya in Castillon Cotes. More on Moya later….

De-stemming the grapes at Chateau Gaby, Bordeaux Harvest 2016

Chateau Gaby Manager and Winemaker Damien Landouar explains how grapes are de-stemmed to guests at the Chateau.

Analyses as well as the touching, tasting and crushing of grapes help to indicate optimum ripeness. Damien cross-references projected alcohol, pH and acidity from our sample grapes, combined with his instinctive taste test and tours of the plots.

Gaby’s 16ha (39 acres) are divided into 21 separate plots depending on varietal, year planted, root stock and soil so the plots will never ripen at the same speed….

This year, the starter’s gun sounds Thursday 6th October!

Compare Our Start Date in Past Years:

Gaby Vendanges:
2006 : 09 oct
2007 : 15 oct
2008 : 23 oct
2009 : 06 oct
2010 : 12 oct
2011 : 10 oct
2012 : 08 oct
2013 : 07 oct
2014 : 14 oct
2015 : 05 Oct
* 2016 : 06 Oct…

Chateau Gaby Bordeaux Harvest 2016 - The scene after lunch

The team continues to pick grapes into the afternoon on Thursday.

2PM — The team set off from the chateau after a welcoming lunch with the owners, the Curl family and a briefing from Damien.

The sun is beating down on us, now up to almost 26 C/79 F as the afternoon session runs from 2pm to 6pm with the team busily picking, collecting then transporting the fruit back to the winery and starting to fill the vats for fermentation.

Canon-Fronsac Bordeaux Harvest 2016 Chateau Gaby

The scene across the vineyard just after lunch on Friday.

Day 2 – FRIDAY 07/10/16

7:30AM — Coffee and croissants as the vineyard team assembles…plenty of laughter and woolly pullovers around this morning to combat the misty cold.

8AM — First bunches of the day are picked with a cool morning temperature of 5 C/41 F ! The morning dew on the ground and on the bunches made for many shivering harvesters in the early stages but the day gradually brightened up beautifully.

12:30PM — A standard Gaby Harvest meal for the workers, concocted by our very own Ghislain and Claire (Damien’s mother); Carrots in vinaigrette and cucumber salad with lemon and cream, Roast pork in cider with Claire’s infamous pureed potatoes followed by homemade Apple Tart! If the boss insists…

Bordeaux 2016 Harvest of Merlot Grapes at Chateau Gaby

Boxes of Merlot stand by ready for destemming, sorting and are then transferred to vats.

The team picked from plots of Merlot (a grape which composes 80% of our plantings), situated on the lower parts of our slopes, with sandier less limestone dominated soil and a higher risk of rot and disease affecting the grapes’ flavours and freshness.


After a very dry summer, a touch of precipitation towards the end of September has left us with juicy berries and healthy yields. Although, vinification will tell us more and continues in our concrete vats, a mere 10 metres from where I sit whilst writing to you…

As per Day 1, cleanup, tidy-up, maintenance and ongoing wine-making takes the Gaby team into the early hours after the pickers have returned home to rest!

Stay tuned…

Click Here to See Part II of Chateau Gaby’s Bordeaux Harvest – October 8th – October 9th, 2016


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