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Harvest season in France

Ophorus Blog - Harvest season in France
Do you know the harvest season in France ? This special time for the wine makers is the perfect and unique moment to be part of a wine tour !

Special season in France

With over 3,000 different types of wine, France is one of the world’s leading wine-producing nations.

Harvest season (« Les vendanges » in French) is one of the most exciting times for a wine lover to visit wine French destinations. Indeed, it’s a time when you can discover how some of the best wine in the world is made. It’s definitively an exciting time to be in the vineyards of France !

 

When does the harvest in France start?

First of all, it’s important to know that the ritual begins, with the administrative publication of the Banns of the grape-harvest, which is the order from the prefecture that authorises the harvest to begin. These dates generally correspondent to 100 days after the vine comes into flower.

That being said, Mother Nature is really the one who decides when to start !

Are the grapes ripe enough ? Or, is there an optimal level of sugars that will be turned into alcohol ? Growers need to choose just the right moment to start their harvest in order to ensure the best possible wine makes it into their bottles.

Clients during harvest season in Bordeaux region, September 2022

 

Clients during harvest season in Bordeaux region, September 2022

 

An early start in the south

In the hottest regions of France such as Corsica, the Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence destinations, the grape harvest generally starts at the end of August. Indeed, the exposure of the hillsides and the intensity of the sun influence the grape’s degree of ripeness.

Beaujolais and the southern Vallée du Rhône quickly follow suit.

By the middle of September, the rest of the Vallée du Rhône, Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Loire Valley start their grape harvest.

Grapes picked in Bordeaux region, September 2022

 

Late harvests

Alsace and Champagne generally join the grape picking at the end of September. This results in a more mature grape, which is therefore sweeter. It also leads to straw-coloured wines with flavours of honey, pear and candied fruits. Charentes, Cognac and Lorraine start for the beginning of October.

This year, due to the weather conditions and a succession of heat waves this summer, harvests generally started in mid-August ! A lot earlier than usual, confirming a trend of increasingly early harvests.

Beginning of the harvest in Andlau, Alsace, early September 2022

 

 

The green light to start the harvest

The decision to harvest will often be made after a winemaker walks a row of vines taste-testing until the grapes meet expectations. By tasting the grapes, an experienced winemaker will know when the time is right to start the harvest.


Once the winemaker gives the green light to the harvest, a Château becomes a magical hive of activity. While mechanical harvesting is used on some estates, many leading Châteaux in France still pick by hand.

After the grapes are harvested, they are run through a de-stemmer before being sorted on a conveyor belt. That’s when the poorer quality fruit, leftover stems, leaves and snails are all discarded. Some wine estates have now switched to mechanical technology, but many Châteaux continue by hand as they see it as a guarantee of both quality and tradition. The best grapes are then put into giant vats to be crushed and made into wine juice.

 

Destemming process in Bordeaux region, September 2022

                

Grapes into barrel, Château Dauzac, Medoc region, September 2022

 

Experiencing the harvest in France

Ophorus works with a selection of Châteaux who are pleased to share with our clients the harvesting experience.

Plan now your next French wine experience with Ophorus !

Enjoy our FALLSPECIAL promo code by booking online :

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