John Bojanowski writes
It was driest and hottest and early,
Vendanges 24–Tres fort squirrely
Beaucoup d’grapes in our baskets
We throw’d off our blue maskets
Shall be back for another quite surely.
It was a dry year, it was a hot year, it was the earliest year. If 2021 was the Year of Breaking Things (every damn machine broke and got fixed or replaced at least twice), 2022 was The Year Unlike All the Others. We picked Muscat on the 10th of August, two weeks ahead of normal. Old Carignan on the 8th of September. Harvest was finished three days later. Good volumes; most tanks all filled up. Strange fermentations, a few still in progress. Suddenly now, it’s November!
2022 was Vintage No. 24 at Clos du Gravillas and Year One of vineyard life with a full-time worker working beside Nicole and me. A year of teaching and transition where a much younger gentleman was taught almost everything we know about vineyards. A few vines were killed but no people and no tractors. It was going well until he finally declined a permanent contract and we are back to doing everything ourselves.
Harvest 24 was the first one where we were unable to hire pickers; not one answered the usual adverts on bakery walls, not one student or retiree called. We were very happy to welcome our son Sacha, twenty-two and finally done with school, for his first ever full harvest. But the emergency picking solution was a professional crew of Moroccans. All the grapes came in but there was no pickers’ party.
If 2021 was the Year of Breaking Things (every damn machine broke and got fixed or replaced at least twice), 2022 was The Year Unlike All the Others.
2022 also saw a global cover crop rollout (vetch and barley), battery powered hedge-trimmer pre-pruning – to never again use the hated vine-branch mulching machine – expanding global under-row ploughing everywhere including the 111 year old Lo Vielh Carignan (the hoe is dead). We rebuilt the old outhouse and made the garden in front of the tasting room into a real relaxation area. It was the year we bottled our first Piquepoul Gris, Blanc, Noir wine and the first year of young Carignan (only five years old and luscious…). 8.5 hectares of 18 different grapes, 14 individual wines, plus two experiments…
2022 was when travel became again possible but a possibility only timidly embraced. Lovely quick trip to London for the Real Wine Fair, a hop to Kentucky to see my mom, a three day trip to Toulouse, three days in Montpellier for Millesime Bio, that’s all! Staying home is the new killer distribution strategy!
2022 was when travel became again possible but a possibility only timidly embraced.
Our good fortune in the specialist wine press continued, especially in La Revue du Vin de France magazine and Le Guide, where they let us keep our shiny star, but the new kind of news was generalist French magazine exposure. In May, our lovely mugs (and Inattendu) made Elle Magazine and were on the waiting room table in every hairdresser shop in France. In August, Le Point Magazine wrote about Gravillas in two different articles, one on the Return of Carignan and the other on the Vin de France revival. AND Decanter just called (it was the advert department) to tell us that we were gonna be a Wine of the Year in January and would we like to insert a little photo of our bottle.
Goals for 2023? Find another tractor driving, hoe-wielding, welding, well-adjusted and smiling young person to take some of our tools out of our hands. Plant some more Piquepoul Gris and Terret in a little clos we finally bought. Master cover cropping and understand the hidden world of roots! Do a 25 vintage vertical tasting. Find and buy 35,000 empty bottles.