The Journal / Breath

Take a breath: how winemakers unwind

Those who thrive in vineyards understand the importance of hitting pause. From playing Mahjong to taking a refreshing dip in Lake Hourtin, let’s explore how our vineyard workers find their moments of peace.

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The work in and around vineyards is demanding, for both body and mind. Being fully committed means mastering the art of rest, of embracing moments of tranquillity, recharging by doing nothing or perhaps engaging in something completely different.

What are these informal activities that help maintain the balance for our vineyard workers? How do these pauses inspire them? We uncover these various forms of relaxation, with each estate  offering its own unique but similar methods of rejuvenation. We’ve found that the secrets to living well and working well are intertwined.

A garden interlude

In the vegetable garden at Rieussec, cucumbers, squashes and sweet potatoes flourish. Redcurrant bushes line the pathway, and just a few metres away, the scents of verbena, oregano, and lemongrass fill the air as soon as they begin to bloom. Tending to the vegetables is one of the team’s favourite activities. Those who help with the garden also monitor the compost bin, where the peels from our freshly harvested crops end up – only once they’re cooked and savoured on-site, of course. This vibrant ecosystem next to the vineyards brings joy to both the mind and the palate.

Herbs and spices growing in Rieussec, in front of the compost bin
Rieussec’s vegetable garden

On the other side of the world, at Long Dai, the Chinese estate of Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite, workers cultivate their own plots of land with their families, growing a variety of vegetables and fruits. Nestled in the countryside and surrounded by small villages, the lush gardens of Long Dai are just a stone’s throw from the vineyard.

A sporting interlude

At Viña Los Vascos, the passion for football is deeply rooted. The Chilean estate boasts three distinct teams. During their free time, tractor drivers, vineyard workers and mechanics spontaneously engage in informal – yet intense – games, known as “pichanga”. Nothing works better for fostering communication and group cohesion!

Morning warm-up at Château L’Évangile



Sport can also have a calming effect. At Château l’Évangile, for example, the day begins with a warm-up routine prepared by a physiotherapist. These exercises ease tension and gently prepare the body for a hard day of labour, out in the vineyards or down in the cellar. A little break before the action, so to speak.

A stroll through the countryside

Need a break? Let’s stretch our legs and explore the surroundings. Just outside Domaine d’Aussières, you can immerse yourself in a sea of greenery. As a natural reserve of the “Bird Protection League” (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, a French NGO), the estate offers the perfect backdrop for spotting bee-eaters, thrushes, or skylarks; listening to the quiet growth of oaks; or gathering wildflowers. A moment spent in nature’s embrace refreshes every vintner’s spirit.

A siesta in the shade

Imagine a summer day at Long Dai: by 11 a.m., temperatures soar near 40°C, signalling a much-needed break until 2 p.m. when the heat starts to recede. Workers find refuge in the cool shadows of buildings or head home to the nearby village for a nap.

The Long Dai team during a break

Winter lunch breaks paint a different picture. They’re shorter, as daylight fades early, but occasionally warmed by a small glass of baijiu, the local rice alcohol ranging from 30 to 40 degrees. Tractor drivers, naturally, abstain.

Long Dai’s canteen during the harvest

During harvest, there’s no time for naps. In the thick of a harvest, activity is relentless; breaks are brief, just long enough to refuel with a light yet sustaining meal. At this bustling time, the on-site canteen operates at full throttle.

Dancing the cueca

Whenever there’s a reason to celebrate, Romina Fuentes, tractor driver at our Chilean estate Los Vascos, performs with her band “Romina y sus Rancheros”. If not her band, another group is sure to get the estate moving! Indeed, the cueca is more than just a fun interlude—it’s a highlight. On Chile’s Independence Day, during the end-of-year parties or at the end-of-harvest festivities, cueca is essential. Declared Chile’s national dance in 1979, it is performed by couples enacting love stories. Dancers wave tissue paper in the air, drawing closer, swirling apart…these are movements that Chilean children learn in school for official celebrations. Thanks to Romina, Los Vascos boasts its own cueca!

Romina y sus Rancheros’ performance
Teams dancing Cueca in Los Vascos

Going hunting

Feeling connected to their terroir and eager to help manage the local wildlife, some team members at Aussières take to hunting after the day’s work is done. Meanwhile, on a different continent with the same pastime, workers at Long Dai enjoy evening hunts with their greyhounds around the estate. This activity offers a refreshing shift in perspective on the vineyards and fosters a deeper connection with local species.

Greyhounds in Long Dai

Time to eat! Relaxing at mealtime

Be it for aperitifs, lunch, or tea, each estate celebrates the year’s highlights with feasts that symbolise togetherness. At Los Vascos, barbecues reign supreme; at Domaine d’Aussières, it’s all about oyster platters. Each estate hosts a grand banquet to mark the end of the harvest season. These gatherings also offer a chance to sample wines from other estates, like the offerings from Domaine William Fèvre, which recently joined the Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite family. During these moments, conversations flow and tensions ease, strengthening bonds across the estates.

Game time

After a hard day of work, it’s time for a little fun and games. Stay a little longer at Long Dai, in the Qiu Shan valley, and you’ll see the estate’s elders enjoying several rounds of Mahjong, a traditional Chinese game akin to dominoes. Gathered around the players are the younger members of the team, who are more keen observers than participants. The conversation steers clear of grapes, meandering instead through varied subjects as hands arrange tiles into winning or losing sets. It’s a refreshing break for friends and colleagues.

In France, at estates like Château Lafite Rothschild or Château L’Evangile in Bordeaux, “pétanque” is the preferred game of choice. Especially during major events, like team building sessions or post-harvest festivities. Each estate boasts its own set of pétanque specialists.

A game of pétanque at Château Lafite Rothschild

Celebrating milestones

Is there a better way of taking a break than a delicious chocolate cake, or a dulce de leche, topped off with a flickering candle? Celebrating birthdays is an important tradition across our Latin American estates. At Los Vascos, in Chile, anyone celebrating their birthday gets the day off. . Meanwhile, at Argentina’s Bodegas CARO, the last day of each month comes with an extravagant cake – specially baked to celebrate all the birthdays of the past month. These gatherings are not only a feast for the senses, they’re also a chance to spread good vibes. They lighten the mood, even if you might get back to work feeling a tad heavier.

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