The First Day of ING

First views of Flaviac in the Rhone Valley

I have zero frame of reference here in terms of winery culture, but I do know wine people, and I know people people, and Mark Haisma has got to be up there with one of the best in terms of know how, enthusiasm, energy (seriously man, where does it come from!?), & fun.  And above all he’s a super passionate teacher who got us involved in every single step of the process with an explanation of what but also why we were doing what we were doING.

Tying. As skill I have nearly mastered

One of the earlier days in the week Mark warned that wine making was a job of ING. Lifting. Cleaning. Sorting. Picking. Lifting.  Lifting.  Cleaning.  Stomping. Climbing. Cleaning. Cleaning. Cleaning.

Picking. Look at that sky

True story.  There was a whole lot of ING all week long.

We head out of the garage at 3:30 the following morning for a dark 2.5 hour drive down to Cornas in the Rhone Valley where Mark also makes wines.  If you haven’t been to French wine regions, this is a requisite drive.  Slowly you make it past the tiny villages of Burgundy, past Beaujolais, and into the Rhone where you see Cote Rotie, St. Joseph, and the Hermitage Hill on your right.  These are iconic vineyards and just an arm’s length away.  This is some serious wine nerd heaven.  Seriously.


As we pull into the fields of Flaviac, a non-AOC region in the Rhone, we are greeted by the vineyard owner and another vigneron he sells grapes to.  The other winemaker is a big buyer and as such gets first dibs at the pickers.  Mark and I are left to fend for ourselves, a quick lesson in the importance of size in the pecking order of vigneron.  $$$


I thought there would be some intense instruction on how and what to pick, technique, & who knows what else, but turns out it is much simpler than all that.   Take your clippers and clip the bunch off the vine.  Put it in a bucket.  Keep going until the bucket is full.

check that skill

The bush vines of the south were much different than those of Burgundy where everything is incredibly well groomed.  Vines in your hair.  Dirt on your pants.  Juice on everything.  This ain’t a job for sissies or automysophics.

so dirty & sticky la

Eventually the other pickers came and we cleared the field of Syrah.  All before lunchtime.

bucket full of “shiraaaz”

We zoomed up to Cornas with the take so we could dump 1/2 whole bunch into tank, and 1/2 through the destemmer and then into the tank.  The fruit this year is stunning.  Look at those berries!!Practically zero rot, great freshness of acidity, and sugar levels right around 13-14%.  2015 is going to be one for the books.

a quick rest stop to pick up some ingredients from the convenience store. It still spanked any sandwich available in HK. #frenchknowfood #dirtyfingersdontcare

Mark vinifies his wines with Vincent Paris in Cornas.  This is the second vintage and the first in which he is making a Grenache (also Syrah & Viognier).  You’ve got to love the comradery.   This is winemaking love.

Vincent Paris
1/2 the grapes through the destemmer (which I learned is different than a crusher)
left over stems
into tank where fermentation will start in 2 or so days
Grenache country
picking up Grenache grapes

See the blondie in the middle? We’re a fan of him.  He’s Swiss and living in his dad’s vacation mansion working on vineyards for the summer.  When he asked how old I was I asked him how old I looked.  He said 20.  God bless the youth.

this is winemaking.@ Vicent Paris

And we walked away with some goodies.IMG_0443

A night later we popped these two with a 2010 Mark Haisma Cornas.  All 3 were intensely pure, balanced, and the epitome of what you’re looking for from Syrah.  I am well aware I am biased, but still the 2010 MH Cornas sang.  Awesome stuff and hopefully available in HK soon….

We wrapped up the Cornas trip back in Gevrey Chambertin with a 9 pm beer followed by pizza and wine (with everything!) with Mark’s mom who was in town visiting with a friend.  Epoisses pizza.  Yup.


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