Pruning is the vinegrower's main work in winter. The pruning season starts after all the leaves have fallen, generally at the end of November, and should finish in early April at
the latest, before the first buds start appearing - what is called bud-burst.
Pruning consists in cutting the dry branches that were produced earlier during the year. Leaving a precise number of eyes (that will develop into a bud and then a branch carrying grapes) will help control the yield the following year. Pruning will also contribute to the vine's longevity and will ensure proper yields over the next years. Stop pruning a vine and after a while, it won't give any more grapes...
A good pruner is said to be able to prune one vinestock per minute. Actually more than this! As 6,660 vinestocks have to be planted per hectare (approximately 2.5 acres) in the Vouvray vineyard, it would mean 110 hours of work per hectare. Actually it takes a good pruner between 70 and 80 hours to prune that surface area!
We invite you to come and spend a few hours in the vineyard to learn how to prune vines. Don't worry, we promise we won't ask you to be as quick as a professional! The technique will be shown to you by the vinegrower himself, Cyril Robert, who is Myriam's husband. We will lend you a pair of pruning shears for you to train. This time spent in the vineyard will also be the opportunity to discover the specificities of AOC Vouvray and of the wines produced in the area. We will finish the workshop by tasting the estate's wines, served with local delicacies.
Our harvest workshop takes place on a Saturday in September or October - depending on the date when we start picking our grapes. The approximate date of the beginning of the harvest is generally known in June, when the vines are in full bloom. 100 days are necessary between that moment and the harvest. However this time period may vary a little, depending on the weather during the summer.
The date of our harvest workshop is generally advertised around the end of June. Online bookings are available from that moment.
Experience the harvest by spending a few hours picking grapes with other visitors and the winegrower's family.
Programme of the day: coffee and pastries will be waiting for you at the winery before we take you to the vineyard.
There, you will discover how the grapes are harvested by machine.
Then off you go, with a bucket and a pair of pruning shears we'll lend you, cutting the beautiful Chenin Blanc grapes in a lovely lanscape.
You'll see the grapes you've picked arrive at the winery and be put in the press machine.
We will taste grape juice and musts from the press machine and the tanks, before lunch made with regional food products is served with the wines produced by the estate.
We'll finish the day with a tour of our cellar dug in the rock, to
explain how we make sparkling wines thanks to the traditional method.
Based on our experience from previous years, the day starts around 9am and finishes around 4:30pm.
All the wines produced at Vignoble Alain Robert are made with our own grapes - we don't buy grapes from other wineries. This allows us to be member of a national organisation called 'Vignerons indépendants' (independent winegrowers), which implies we master the whole winemaking process, from grape-growing to bottling, as well as the selling of the wine.
Until 2009, most of the grapes were harvested by hand at our winery. That year, we switched to other methods - machine harvest - but today we still hand-harvest about 1/4 of our grapes. For some of our wines, we require the healthiest grapes as possible, which is why resort to hand harvest, a method generally more respectful of the grapes and that allows us to sort the grapes.
Roger Van Dyke, an American who came to visit in September 2017, brought his drone with him and had the opportunity to film the hand-picking process, as well as the beautiful vineyard landscapes around our winery in Chançay, in the Loire Valley. I'll let you enjoy, before offering to join us for one day during the autumn to experience hand-harvest yourself!
Experience a local tradition!
A couple of weeks after the beginning of the harvest, local people enjoy drinking new wine with chestnuts roasted in the fireplace. This new wine is not really wine yet, it is legally called 'partially fermented must', which means fermenting grape juice - called must - that contains approximately 5% alcohol.
Come and spend an evening visiting our winery and our rock-hewn cellar and taste by the fireplace the wines produced by Vignoble Alain Robert with local food, new wine and roasted chestnuts.
You would like to treat a wine lover and offer him/her an original and unique present? The Winemaker's Box could be the perfect solution!
This box will allow the recipient to discover the winemaker's work throughout the year by taking part in several workshops in the vineyard:
- pruning workshop (in March)
- debudding OR trellising workshop (either in May or June, depending on the workshop chosen)
- harvest workshop (September or October)
The next year (in May) will be the opportunity to enjoy a tasting of the new vintage directly at the winery. The wine tasting will also include the wine made from the grapes picked the previous autumn by the participant.
A box of 6 bottles of wine (both sparkling and still wines) produced at Vignoble Alain Robert is included in the price of box and will be given to the participant on the day of the wine tasting.
After you have bought your box, we will be happy to email you a gift card to print as well as all the information required for the reicipient of the box to organise himself/herself.
You have taken part in one of our wine tours and/or wine tastings and have enjoyed the time you've spent with Myriam in the vineyard discovering the Loire Valley wines? Why not share your experience and offer a Loire Wine Tour to one of your friends or family members?
We offer you the possibility to buy gift cards online, directly on our website, by clicking on the link below. For a unique, original and very personal gift!