Research Quality

The final stage of work in the vineyard is the most symbolic – the grape harvest. This takes place over a period of 10 – 18 days, different every year. The starting date is always difficult to determine and takes place between the 10th September and 10th October.

Hand picking the harvest : A question of quality or sentimentality ?

This is often determined for economic reasons as hand-picking is much more costly than by machine. For a long time, the use of a harvesting machine greatly restricted the vinification techniques that could be used.

By harvesting manually, each vineyard plot can be selected individually in order to obtain the greatest potential from each vine. The bunches arrive intact in the cellars, where the decision will be taken as to how much of the stems to remove from each bunch which will be determined according to the particular vintage. This decision is left up to us. It enables us to select only the best grapes and ensure the quality of the harvest. In the light of this, it is easy to understand how the Grand Cru Châteaux are reticent towards the use of harvesting machine.

The use of a harvesting machine is not very important for wines that are to be drunk young, but for wines that are to age, more care has to be taken with the selection of the grapes and the quality factor plays a far more important role

All of our wines : Domaine de Frégent, Château le Maine Martin and Château Toulouze are harvested manually.

The latest harvesting machines do however comply with our own quality requirements, notably :

  • They are much narrower, meaning that the rows of vines do not have to be planted so widely apart. The fact that the rows are widely spaced encourages the growth of the vine and the yield. The closer the vines, the more they ‘suffer’ and the better the quality.
  • They are much lighter and can be used on ploughed soil. It is therefore no longer necessary to use chemical weed-killer.
  • They selection trays mounted onto the machines are finer and it is now possible to harvest better quality grapes.


That completely changes the situation and means that in years to come we may also consider using a harvesting machine, especially for economic reasons and now that there is a better guarantee of a good harvesting quality.