The Northern winds whistle between the lines of vines and blow across the steep hillsides that embrace Chavignol below. Henri, and his sons Rémi and Jean-Marie, toil and plough in the biting cold and treacherous dampness, that creeps into the collars, under the sleeves and inside the boots.
The work of the vineyard is made more colossal as father and sons must balance on the rocks and pebbles that roll, cut and give way, deposited there by an ancient sea that has long since dried up.
Numb faces are revived as the first soft snowflakes of December fall. A cacophony erupts from frozen flurries, the cranes announce their arrival.
We always hear them before we see them. It is told in Chavignol that the wading birds make the winter and the spring, following the rhythm of their eternal journeys, and one watches for the flight of the great cranes to ignite the fireplace. As though guided by a golden thread whose secret only they keep, the cranes take to the North, every end of the year, over the vineyards of Sancerre.
Their song vibrates with anticipation of this great adventure towards unknown lands, as a chiming bridge between Africa and the Northern lands.
Alerted, the brothers stand up for a moment to witness this age-old sight. In tight formation, the birds fly against the winds and the elements, towards a unique and tacit destination. A feather, grey and white, as thick as it is light, drifts in their direction, drawing giant icy arabesques, until it lands at their feet. On the freshly turned ground, the delicate feather seems almost woolly.
Reaching down with numb fingers; it is with both a smile and a warm heart that Henri accepts the gift of the migratory bird announcing the winter.
May this blessing protect our family
as we protect our vines,
as long as we are offered
to sail towards the same horizon.
This Christmas tale is a tribute to the founding figures of Henri, Rémi and Jean-Marie Bourgeois whose legacy guides our actions and nourishes our wine-making tradition, year after year.