Weissburgunder Harvest

On September 21, 2015, we had the pleasure of helping to harvest the White Burgundy grapes (known in Germany as Weiss Burgunder, and in France as Pinot Blanc). This harvest was in the Kaiserstuhl region of southwest Germany, in the town of Boztingen. We are staying with German friends who own a hectare of vineyards (about 2.5 acres), on terraced slopes above the town. Under 5% of Germany’s vineyards are planted with Weissburgunder, but the popularity of this grape and wine has grown, with the total area of this varietal doubling in Germany in the past ten years. After Italy, Germany is the second largest producer of White Burgundy in the world, with the highest density in southwest Germany in Baden, Pfalz, and the Rheinhessen. The Weissburgunder wine has a fresh, tart, yet delicate fruitful taste, often associated with summer wines, but also great with food dishes year round.

We walked a quarter of a mile uphill, to the vineyard, located on a hilltop terrace behind our friend’s house. It was like a summer day, though the third week of September. Our friends only have a few rows of this varietal, and the total harvest weight was just under 900 pounds, a little less than half a ton. We were finished within two hours, with four of us working. We dumped the grapes from the buckets onto a slide that carried the grapes to the vat. Our friend brought a refractometer with him into the vineyard to test the grapes for sugar content which turned out to be very high, an excellent quality for grapes. Our friend took the vat of grapes on his tractor and trailer to the local winery co-operative, the Winzergnossenshaft Botzingen. There the winemakers crush, weigh and test the sugar content. You get paid per kilo of weight, with the price increasing for each point above 85, the sugar norm set by the winemaker.  Last year, our friend sold 180 kilos of Weiss Burgunder at 72 sugar level. This year, he sold 378 kilos at 91 points of sugar. He was delighted this year. The harvest continues this week, with Spat Burgunder up next, the largest amount of grapes in most vineyards in this area, then Silvaner, and other varietals. I kept thinking of Jesus’ promise, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.”