A Burgundy Dream Realized: Maison Harbour
A New Winery in Burgundy? Impossible!
Wine history dating back to the middle ages, high demand for classic wines known around the world, it must be impossible to start a new winery in Burgundy, right? This is France, after all.
Go to the Blue door in Savigny-lès-Beaune
Impossible? No! All you need to do is:
- Quit your jobs.
- Go to Viticulture and Winemaking school in Beaune. Same for your wife, Coleen.
- Go to work full time for a local winegrower. Work in the fields and in the winery. Same for your wife. Earn your position with the neighbors.
- Buy a condemned building and make it habitable (barely).
- Invest in your own winemaking equipment.
- Biggest of all, convince winegrowers in the region to sell you grapes.
This isn’t a fairy tale, it’s real and it’s the Maison Harbour story in brief.
In a lucky coincidence, I had posted a request for advice to a Burgundy group on Facebook before our trip. I received several helpful ideas on where to stay, eat and visit. A surprise, I also received an invitation to visit from Nicholas, as he keeps in touch with the Facebook group. When a winemaker offers, I listen!
We found Maison Harbour in Savigny-lès-Beaune without too much trouble; remember, these are small towns. Nicholas welcomed us and gave us the grand tour, including their story. It sounded like a bit of a fairy tale until you think about a leaky roof, months to get power arranged, and a rush to get everything ready and find some grapes for the 2013 vintage. Somehow, they made it all happen, and here they are, having completed their third vintage.
Nicholas generously took us into their caves, first to the upper one where the whites are resting in a bit of warmth to complete their malolactic (ML) fermentation. Then, a bit lower to visit the reds, which rest at a cooler cellar temperature, allowing ML to occur slowly over the winter months. What a treat to taste the 2015 vintage from barrel! (click on any photo to view slide show)
We finished up with a fun tasting of their 2014 vintage, which would be released in the spring of 2016.
If you’re planning a trip to Burgundy, make sure you include a full range of wineries in your visit: big negociants, historic family wineries, and at least one crazy new winemaking couple!
Interested in a bit more information? Here you go:
The Maison Harbour story from Oliver’s Travel Blog and another in-depth series of posts on CellarTracker. Even though they are small production, you can purchase their wines at pre-release. Simply sign up at the Maison Harbour website. We’ll be receiving our first order this spring!
Thanks again to Nicholas for hosting us, we’re looking forward to seeing you in the US on a future trip!