My kind of school spirit: Chateau Palmer

chateaupalmer2.jpgHow would you like to intern at a winery during harvest? OK, one of the top chateaux in Margaux? OK, now add that you are a high school student and think how cool that would be!?!?

Following our discussion of kids at wineries, I was delighted to learn that Chateau Palmer has an open view on the subject–at least for teenagers. Bernard de Laage explained to me in New York recently that Danish high school students have been coming to the chateau to help with harvest since 1997. Danish students have to do a work-study and some clever teacher there dreamed up the idea of bringing them down by bus for a month. Um, how come no teacher at my high school ever had this brilliant idea?

Bernard told me that the students are great workers for at least two reasons. First, “they have no bad habits.” He was speaking to their harvesting abilities, of course. Because they have done no previous vineyard work, they “do exactly what we say,” Bernard told me. Second, he said that “we can rely on them–they’re here every day.” Local workers for hire, by contrast, are available some days, but not others as they scramble to help across many vineyards.

It seems like a jolly time judging by the tiny photos on the Chateau Palmer blog. I wonder what they drank at meal time? My guess is not rum and coke.

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3 Responses to “My kind of school spirit: Chateau Palmer”

  1. How can I get one of these internships as a UC Davis Student?

  2. Hi Michael,

    I dunno! Maybe click through to their blog, search for contact, and attach a resume? Let us know how it goes!

  3. Palmer, like other chateaux in Bordeaux who can afford hand-picking, does not have the regular labor pool we are accustomed to in California. Thus, they look elsewhere for labor. Since the top classed growths typically bring in 100-150 pickers every vintage, provide them with housing (or at least a campground), and lunch for days that they are working, this can be quite the issue. The majority of harvest pickers are either young people who have finished their pre-university schooling and are getting some “real world” travel experience, are high school students (several chateau look to countries like Denmark, Belgium, other parts of France, etc), or are from economically less developed part of Europe. For many years now Portugal has provided a great number of workers.

    The work is hard, though not as difficult as hand-picking in California as the pace is slower and the pay is done by the hour and not by either amount or acreage picked. But remember that most chateaux have planting densities of close to 3500 vines/acre, much greater than average in the states, and the vines are wee-little things. oompa-loompa’s would be better pickers than humans as they are generally just over a foot off the ground.

    As to what they drink for lunch…well, most workers do not care for wine (and this goes for a lot of workers in the chaix as well), so it might surprise you how much beer, and rum and coke, is actually consumed. And these are probably better than the piquette (a wine made by adding water to the post-pressing marc and refermenting it) given to workers for much of the last few centuries.


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