The contrast couldn’t be bigger. This morning is a quiet slightly overcast day in a beautiful village in South West France. The shutters are opening now and quiet family Sundays are under way. 24 hours ago, a very different experience was happening here in the centre of this community. It was harvest day 2011 for Paradise Rescued.

This morning, the only evidence of yesterday’s hard work can be found in the winery where the Cabernet Franc is cold macerating in the big vat and close by, our first (very) small production of Merlot is awaiting its time to start fermentation. The vines are resting after their efforts during the last five months. Everything is clean and tidy once again.

It all started about 6.30am on Saturday. The sun was up early to set the scene for an amazing day. An early morning dash to the local boulangerie to get bread for the meal later and the mandatory grape pickers’ breakfast of choclatines and coffee. By 8 ‘clock the team was arriving, the chai was open, the tractor / trailer was ready, desteming / grape crushing equipment washed and prepared. And then it all begins as the grape pickers go to work.

By midday it was hot, not a cloud to be seen, nor a thermometer. But it was hot. We had carried out a traditional Swiss harvest toasting ceremony in the vineyard with all the team – in between rapid transit batch loads of grape baskets between the vineyard and the winery. By 1pm the Cabernet Franc was in the vat and after a small stop for drinks, the Merlot was completed. The serious part was done and the 15 person team retired for a relaxing BBQ lunch and celebration in the shade.

Everything had come together well, a real team of wine maker, vigeronne, grape pickers, supporters and caterers had functioned well and integrated together so easily. Thank goodness fate finally conspired to get me here – it was a day I really didn’t want to miss and I certainly won’t forget. Big dreams come true and today it all happened. Thank you to everyone who made it happen and contributed so much. The photos say it all – thanks again Nathalie.

As for the quality of the fruit, wine potential, Cloud9 2011, etc that will follow next week as the fermentation gets under way.