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It’s like a yearly miracle. Yesterday I was in the vines, and not just any old parcel; the Montrachet if you please! We are just at the beginning of the re-birth. The vines have all been pruned, of course, and the branch that will support this year’s growth has been tied down onto the wires.

There are generally between 6 and 8 buds per plant. Well yesterday, following some days of pleasant, warm weather, I could just see the first buds starting to burst. At first the buds swell, and then burst open, and then the first tiny leaves make their appearance, emerging from their winter cocoon. Nature comes back to life.

Our vineyards in Burgundy are also very stony; we have a basic clay and limestone subsoil. When dug over, the vineyards are full of small stones. These stones help with the drainage, but also, very importantly, they reflect heat back up onto the vines, thereby helping the ripening. If the fine weather continues, in a couple of weeks, there will already be around 5 leaves per bud.

Next time, we’ll talk about the flowering……. Until then,

Miss Pinot Noir

Posted on: 13 Apr 2015
Posted by: Rory & Caroline Mcrae

So what is dormance? It’s what the vines go into in the winter. Those plants work so hard throughout the growing season. First the buds break, and then spurs are grown; after that small green leaves start to appear, which grow bigger. Flowers arrive and then tiny clusters of new berries that look like tiny green peas. The leaves continue to grow, as do the clusters of berries. Towards the harvest the berries will change in colour; the green turning to yellow or red. Harvest time comes along and the bunches of grapes are removed.

As though nature has understood that its job is done for another year, the leaves change colour, and then fall to the ground. With the arrival of the first frosts the plant will start its winter phase of dormance. There is no longer anything happening above ground, so the sap descends into the roots to protect them over the winter. That’s where we are now. Pruning has happened almost everywhere. All that is visible in the vineyard are small blackened stumps and it’s almost impossible to believe that there will be luscious bunches of grapes come September. But that’s the miracle of nature.

For now, we are all snug at home, ‘hibernating’. It’s cold and grey, and everyone just wants to sit by the fireside drinking hot chocolate (or Clos de Vougeot!) We are just like those vines, waiting for the cold winter to pass, protecting ourselves from the harsh conditions and waiting for the spring to arrive. We too, are in our ‘dormant’ phase!

Miss Pinot Noir

Posted on: 02 Feb 2015
Posted by: Rory & Caroline Mcrae

Back in June of last year we were very fortunate to have the Travel writer James Buckley travelling with us. He has produced an amazing piece for the Montecito Journal about his time aboard the Apres Tout in which he details his itinerary – visits to the Hotel-dieu des Hospices Civils de Beaune, a vineyard tour with our great friend Christine Drouhin Laroze and a visit to see the studio of the acclaimed artist Paul Day. As well as beautiful photos of the barge and the burgundy countryside.

View his photos here – gallery

Or download his report to read at your leisure here

Posted on: 14 Jan 2015
Posted by: Rory & Caroline Mcrae

21st September 2014


You have taught us that cruising with you is not like chartering a sail boat in the Caribbean. Thank you for a stable boat, spacious cabins, daily towel changes and shore excursions without dinghies! Oh yes, and the remarkable hospitality and gracious meals. What a team you are, we can hardly believe our good fortune!


Molly & John

Posted on: 09 Oct 2014
Posted by: Rory & Caroline Mcrae
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