Updated: Jun 28
Today, I met Ana Sofia, event manager at Domaine Grand Boise. Domaine Grand Boise has existed since 1610. There is also a symbolic cuvée named “1610” created to commemorate the historic origins of the property. Ana Sofia and her husband took over the management of the estate in 2013 and revolutionized its management, by launching into biodynamics.
As the harvest approaches, she has taken the time to answer my questions about this period which is so rich and special for the people of Provence. In Provence, the harvest has been going on for more than 2000 years. It really is part of the soul of the locals.
Before starting the interview, Ana Sofia takes the time to explain to me the different terms related to wine. The words used are sometimes complex. So, I'm glad she's doing it.
You will find a summary of these words at the end of this article.
How many hectares do you have?
We have 40 hectares in production and 300 hectares of forests and garrigue or scrubland.
What is scrubland?
The garrigue is a rocky ground where the typical vegetation of Provence grows (wild plants such as thyme, rosemary, etc.).
When do we know the grapes are ready?
We know it from tasting. We analyze the sweetness, texture, and acidity. The choice to start the harvest is therefore closely linked to the knowledge of the winegrower and his experience. We also send samples to laboratories for further analysis. All parameters are checked. But instinct will always prevail over test results.
Why is the choice of the start date of the harvest so important?
The composition is important because we want balanced, digestible and fresh wines. If we wait too long, the grapes will be too sweet. If there is too much sugar, there will be too much alcohol and the wine will be too heavy.
What fertilizer do you use?
We are in biodynamics. We will soon receive the certification. Biodynamics considers the Earth as a “Whole”. Biodynamics makes it possible to find a kind of total balance between all the areas that influence the Earth. This takes into account plants, insects, the moon, etc. We use the Earth's natural defense mechanism to act against disease. Natural treatments are made with plants such as horsetail, chamomile and cow dung, etc.
We also sow seeds between the vines to bring nitrogen to the vines in particular. The choice of seeds is made according to the needs of the Earth and the plants are then buried. We also work two hectares with horse-driven plough.
How long does the harvest last?
The harvest season lasts between 3 and 4 weeks depending on the year.
How many bottles do you harvest?
We produce around 140,000 bottles per year.
Are the harvests manual or mechanized?
Here, the harvest is manual for several reasons. First, the land is not suitable for mechanized harvesting. The vineyard is made up of 90 plots of vines that extend over 400 hectares. Secondly, there is a big difference in elevation as the vineyard starts at an altitude of 300 meters and goes up to 650 meters. Using machines would therefore be dangerous and inefficient. Third, beyond its purely technical aspects, the fingers of the machines that drop the grapes damage them. Everything is harvested by hand in small boxes of 25kg so that the skins of the grapes remain intact.
At what time of the day do you harvest?
We start at sunrise. Once collected, we put the grapes in a cold room so that they do not oxidize. When it is pressed, it then retains all its flavor.
What types of wines do you make ?
We make all three types of wines: rosé, red and white. We have a classic range and a high-end plot selection range.
How is the choice of bunches for each wine?
We have different grape varieties. Depending on the terroir (soil, exposure, and human work), the grape variety will have a different taste. We therefore vinify all the grape varieties apart. From experience we know what works well together. We therefore do the blending at the end after fermentation and aging.
The ageing in barrel, amphora or brut concrete takes place before aging in bottle to keep the freshness and to have a more complex and balanced taste.
Do you keep part of your production to age it?
We keep 20 percent of the production and sell the rest.
A little vocabulary…
The varietal is the type of the plant (like Syrah, Grenache)
The vineyard indicates the area on which there are vines.
A foudre is a barrel of very large capacity.
If you come to my place for an immersion stay in Provence, I will make you discover the different aspects of Provence: the landscapes and the scents, but also the culture, the gastronomy... while helping you to improve your French. See you soon in Provence!
Virginie In Provence