This was my journal entry on my last day at the Gaillard Chateau…
October 9th, 2015
It is a bittersweet day, and time for me to say good-bye to Saint Emilion, France.
Wow. What an incredible two weeks I have spent in the wine country. It was so much more than I imagined, and I am truly so blessed to have had this experience… Saint Emilion, France is an incredibly charming, fairytale-esque… and romantic town. This is a place perfect for any occasion…
I will never get tired of these rooftops and shutters. So magical.
The Gaillard Vineyard has a very special place in my soul now. I stayed amongst these grapevines for four weeks. I learned an important and valuable lesson from adventuring to this vineyard. A lesson on humanity and connection. I arrived at the vineyard, and immediately realized practically no one there spoke more than a few words of English (other than Catherine, Cedric and of course, Cedric’s wife and friends that I met outside of the vineyard.) I was slightly intimidated the first night and couldn’t fathom not feeling totally alone through this experience as no one spoke my language. After living through this, I am pleasantly surprised at the amount of real connection I felt. Regardless if you speak the same language, we are all human and have a bond over life… I quickly could feel these people were kind, warm-hearted and absolutely hilarious with a great sense of humor. Whether it be a glance, eye-contact, a smile, a joke told in french and everyone bending over laughing…there is an understanding without words. This was a beautiful lesson for me and I truly got to know an entire new side of myself. I can analyze the fact that I am surprisingly comfortable… with the uncomfortable. The uncomfortable teaches me something. I gain knowledge on life. I feel ALIVE. Of course, I also attempted to speak french, and actually picked up much of what they were saying in conversation by the end of my stay. This experience sparked an even greater desire for me to become fluent in french…And it helps that I happen to love the wines they produce. Saint Emilion Grand Cru… very good terroir!
I learned so much about the initial stage of wine-making after the harvest. We only explored (in training me) the first two weeks after the grapes are picked from the vines. There is so much more that goes into the art of winemaking… making good wine usually takes around 18 months to two years, from harvest to bottle. This stay at Chateau Gaillard really taught me that wine making is a science and it takes “good winemakers” to understand how fragile grapes are, and how important the fermentation process is. Constant maintenance of the grape juice while it transforms to alcohol is key. This is the start, followed by ageing in barrels or not, and maintaining your vines all year so the grapes grow properly. What would we do without the pleasure of wine?
I am immensely grateful to the people who make wine, and make a living out of making it well.
This is just the beginning… so much more to come with my wine school journey.