Working On A Vineyard For A Holiday
Like everyone else, this time in quarantine has gotten me reminiscing on traveling. One trip in particular that I continue to think about is traveling to Le Barroux in France with my grandparents. This holiday was not like any other, because we were going to live and work on a vineyard for a week. Yes...you heard that correctly. I went to make wine.
My grandparents are huge travelers. They have a large map at home of the world and stick pins into each place they have traveled to, and since I was little I always hoped to do the same. For the past five years, they have been going on this excursion in Le Barroux to their friend's vineyard called Clos de Trias, where the owners extend an invite to people who would like to live and act as workers during their harvest season on the vineyard. I would hear about their trip from previous seasons and they would often ask me if I wanted to join. I was nervous of taking a "vacation" like this because it would mean I would have to work the entire time. After thinking about it, I realized that it was about the experience and diving into the culture of Le Barroux. So in 2018, I decided to buy my plane ticket and join my them.
I had traveled with my grandparents many times before, but never internationally. I don't even think we had ever been on a plane together. Our trips were always within the United States and they were big into driving everywhere if possible (we even drove to Niagara Falls while listening to Barbara Streisand for the entire drive). I was excited to go abroad with them as a 24-year-old so that we could be together as adults and share this amazing adventure together. Traveling with them was quite the experience. It was a mix of different generations. With my knowledge of how to use just about every travel app or online assistance (because I was booking travel for a living) and then my grandfather who had traveled the world multiple times but had his trusty printed itineraries in a folder, we definitely had our differences. With some twists and turns along the way and while being in the backseat of a tiny car with my grandfather driving stick, we laughed at ourselves the whole way.
After finally arriving to the house in Le Barroux and being settled into my tiny room with bunkbeds and the cutest window with shutters, I quickly realized that I was the youngest of the group by at least 40 years. Some would see this as a negative, but since I was little I have been a natural among my grandparent's friends. It was exciting seeing my grandparent's greet the others that they had roomed with for the past years and to see them all connect again. The owners of the vineyard and most of the other workers were primarily Norwegian, which was a fun culture shock. Everyone was a delight from the very beginning.
Over the course of the week we had a schedule to maintain each day at Clos de Trias. We would wake up early while it was still dark out, have a quick breakfast that consisted of some toast with spreads or yogurt, get into the car to meet at a specific field, pick grapes for most of the morning, have a coffee and croissant as a snack, pick again, head back to the house for a hugeeeeee lunch (with wine, duh!), go back to the vineyard to sort the grapes, and then head back to the house to shower and get ready for dinner. We were busy, busy, busy, and I loved it.
One of my favorite parts of the day was picking the grapes because it was so beautiful and in a way, therapeutic. We would be in a different field each day depending on which grapes were ready for picking. All of us would put on our gloves, tighten our boots, grab a bucket and clippers, and spread out along the rows to work at a quick pace as we had a lot to get done. We would all have conversations while picking, each person telling stories, and then also times when we would be silent in concentration while taking in the beautiful noises of nature. The different views from each field were breathtaking in their own way. One of the best times during the day would be taking a break and sitting on the ground among the rows of grapes to have a coffee and croissant. So simple, yet wonderful.
During our work on the vineyard we learned about the fermentation process. Depending on what type of wine was being made, we would sort out different grapes. Clos de Trias is known for making organic wine so de-stemming wasn't a part of the process. Keeping the stems on the grapes was how you got that delicious earthy taste. Learning about the process of how wine is made was incredible. The owner would walk us through the operation and let us take part in multiple steps. One of my favorite tasks was using the machines that labeled and sealed each Clos de Trias bottle to then pack away for shipment.
By the end of our stay on the vineyard, I felt sad to leave because I left with many new friends. Of course, they were a bit older than me, but the stories they would tell of how they met and fell in love with their spouses, the places they had been to, or giving life advice to me, I felt so deeply connected by the end of it all. It was one of the greatest experiences. There was no better time than sitting all together at lunch and having the best discussions over many bottles of wine. (You would have thought that'd I'd have been drunk the whole time, but the change in altitude in France actually didn't make me drunk!)
Once we were packed up and said our goodbyes, my grandparents and I had a few more stops to make before heading back home a few days later. We visited the town of Vaison la Romaine, Venterol, and Avignon, France. The best part was that I grew up seeing pictures of these places in my grandparent's home because they had been before, so seeing it for myself was thrilling. I even took pictures in the same places that they did years prior!
This trip was something that I will always remember, mainly because of the fact that I traveled with a couple of my best friends. While we had our differences at times (as any travel buddies would have), we explored new places and created memories that will never be forgotten. We learned a lot about each other while having conversations on the vineyard and also while traveling from one town to another. Something I learned about myself on this trip was that having true experiences while traveling is so much greater than just looking around or sitting on a beach. If possible, I always want to try to engage myself in the culture in each place that I go so that I get to experience why each place is special. By doing this, I think that you get a lot more out of the place than you would otherwise.
[Fast forward to winter of 2019]
I was invited to a wine tasting in Tribeca (Manhattan) by some friends who are huge wine connoisseurs. I had arrived a bit later than everyone else who had already begun enjoying the tasting of multiple wines. As I went over to look at the options, guess what wine was sitting in front of me? Clos de Trias! How weird is that!? Out of millions of different wines from all around the world, I was looking at a Clos de Trias wine inside a Manhattan bar. I felt so proud to have been given the opportunity to go to the vineyard myself and learn about the undertaking behind it. There was nothing better than sipping on a wine that I knew was made from hard work and lots of care.
Where can I buy Clos de Trias?
Clos de Trias - Main Website
Flatiron Wines - New York, NY (I recently called and they do not currently have Clos de Trias in stock, but they can send out an order for you!)