Destinations,  Friesland,  The Netherlands

Harvesting grapes in The Netherlands at de Frysling

There’s something I love as much as travelling: wine! It’s not a secret, in our trips we visit the local vineyards, taste the wines and buy some for the rest of the trip. We have been in Tyrrell’s in Australia, Bodegas Monje in Tenerife,  Castello di Amorosa and Beringer in Napa Valley, in many vineyards of Martinborough and Marlborough in New Zealand, La Rioja and Bourdeaux, and after five years living in Friesland, I hadn’t visit yet the most northerly vineyard in The Netherlands: De Frysling.

Frysling 1 lowDuring my second trip to the Lauwersmeer region I meet Jantiene, the owner of the vineyard. She came to “it dreamlan“, our accommodation, on the Friday night and brought wine for a tasting. Too bad I was already pregnant and I couldn’t have a glass. But that wasn’t an impediment to talk about the vineyard and the wines. She told me they were about to harvest the last grapes of the season on the Sunday. I don’t know if it was because I was very enthusiastic about the vineyard and the harvesting that she invited me to join them!

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Harvesting grapes in The Netherlands at de Frysling

I didn’t tell it her, but in my mind I’ve been planning a trip to witness the harvesting of the grapes for a long time. So even thought our Sunday was already completely planned, I kept the idea of sneaking out at some point of the day to go to the harvesting grapes at De Frysling.

Frysling 7

The weather on Sunday couldn’t have been beter for the first weekend of November! I woke up earlier and I went first to take some pictures of the sunrise in Moddergat (a lovely little fishers village). When I was back, I headed to De Frysling.

Frysling 2

What makes this vineyard so special? Well, I don’t think the Netherlands will come to your mind if you think of wine producing countries. The weather here is just not so good for wine making grapes and even though De Frysling has found the way to be able to find the right grape varieties for this climate: Johanniter, Solaris, Souvignier Gris, Pinotin, Carbernet Noir and Cabernet Cortis. With them they produce white wine, rosé and amazing “Brûswyn” (sparkling wine).Frysling 6

The harvesting is completely done manually, which assures that only the best grapes are used for the wine. I can tell you, harvesting is really time consuming. It’s not about picking the grapes and putting them into the buckets, but also checking grape by grape that they are all fine.

Harvesting grapes in The Netherlands at de Frysling
Harvesting grapes in The Netherlands at de Frysling

 It’s a very methodical work, you take the brunch and exterminate all grapes. If the skin is damage, you need to remove it. If the grape is wrinkled, you also need to remove it. Sometimes you take a huge brunch and after you are done taking those not high quality grapes out, you end up with a tiny brunch. But this is the way De Frysling assures a great taste and quality wine.

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Checking the grapes during the harvesting at de Frysling

We couldn’t stay the whole day, but we had a great time talking to Jantiene in their tasting local, which is open each first Sunday of the month from 14:00 to 17:00.

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The tasting local of De Frysling

Well, if a couple of hours is not enough you can also stay in the vineyard. They have a cozy guesthouse that can accommodate two adults and two children. I loved the “bedstee”, which it’s the old fashioned bed of The Netherlands, a bed inside of a compartiment. This is surely one of the best ways to expend a romantic Valentin’s weekend.

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Guesthouse at De Frysling

And if you even want more, you can always contact Jantiene as they also have volunteers staying for a certain period with them. Surely the best way to experience the vineyard.

De Frysling

Thanks Jantiene for the great conversations and explanations as well as for being able to be part of the harvesting. We will surely come back to taste the wine we were picking and in autumn to help out a fully day with the harvest 🙂

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  • Anda

    Oh, I love visiting wineries too, Shere. We have some very good ones in California, like Paso Robles and Napa Valley, as you mentioned. I would have been very sad not to be able to taste the wine, but I can understand your point. At least you’ve got to visit the winery.

  • Arnie

    Imagine my surprise! I would never have thought of vineyards in the Netherlands. My wife does not imbibed, so my days of visiting wineries is pretty much over. Oh the pity of it.

    • shere

      I guess it depends on the vineyard itself. Other vineyards do it all with machines, so I don’t think they inspect all grapes.

  • Ruth - Tanama Tales

    I have never experienced a grape harvest (even though I live very close to many wine regions). It would be interesting to learn more about the process. Didn’t know there were vineyards in The Netherlands.

    • shere

      There’re not so many vineyards in The Netherlands, I think you can count them with one or two hands 🙂

    • shere

      Smashing and dancing on them barefoot would have been very fun. I don’t know if any vineyard is doing it nowadays 🙂

  • Vicki

    I absolutely love wineries – and it would never have occurred to me that you could visit wineries in the Netherlands – let alone be present for the harvesting of the grapes! Its looks like a labor of love – but at least the owners can be confident they have only used the best grapes in their wines. I’m going to have to hunt down a bottle of Frysland wine to try for myself – although i’m not hopeful: Australia is a very long way from the Netherlands!!
    Happy Travels!

  • Cameron

    Visiting Vineyards can be one the best experiences. Love drinking wine, and they’re often so beautiful. You got some great photos of the harvest, and the accommodation on the vineyard looks so nice.

  • sam

    What beautiful photos! Not really being a fan of wine myself I have never really thought of visiting a vineyard but nevertheless a really interesting post! thank you!

  • Alyssa | Adjust Your Focus®

    Wine tasting and visiting vineyards is always a great time. I’ve never done a wine harvest though, sounds interesting! Like you mentioned I wouldn’t have thought of the Netherlands when thinking of wine producing countries, good to know. Cheers

  • Elena

    Very interesting reading. I definitely learned something new :). I never thought about Netherlands as a wine country. Tulips – yes, wine – no. However, just recently I read about some entrepreneurs in China making first steps in winemaking direction. Moreover, last year I tried wine from Nebraska. This is one of the states in the US that I would put pretty close to the bottom of winemaking areas. Admittedly, they have a long road ahead of them. Among these newcomers, winemakers from Netherlands seem more logical to me. Cheers!

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