Grape Harvest Season
What is vendanges?
It is the time of year where people raise their glass and toast Mother Earth. Why? To celebrate the blessings of a good grape harvest of course. Lasting from late August to sometimes the end of October, European vineyards, mainly ones in France, Italy, Germany and Spain, spend their days picking the ripe red and golden bunches of grapes which spread across miles.
The date of fruit picking varies in different regions based on geography and climate. The date also largely depends on the grape varietals, especially sugar content and ripeness of the grape skin, as each type of grape matures at a different point of time. The harvest season can last several days to a few weeks, and it definitely makes itself known to passersby with tractors lining the hillsides and groups of people moving through the rows of vines.
Harvesting is the first stage of the wine making process. Many wineries started using machines to expedite the harvest process, but some still only harvest the grapes by hand, like Beaujolais and Champagne for example. Following the harvest, the grapes are transferred to a stemmer/crusher where the stems are removed and the grapes are crushed. After crushing, the now grape juice is put into fermentation vats, where the sugar is converted into alcohol and CO2. Then the wine is transferred into different vessels for aging and at last is bottled in a sterile environment and immediately corked.
Where should you go?
Vendanges, as the harvest season is known in France, is by far one of the biggest annual festivities in the country. Many towns have their own celebratory customs. Some have beach parties with a barbecue; in others locals line the streets as the parade goes by. You can find festivals all over the country, as in France almost every region produce wine. Of course, if you want to live a full experience, you can visit the most famous wine regions, like Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace, Provence and Loire Valley. The choice can be hard !
No matter how the towns celebrate the grape harvest, every festival has one thing in common – an abundance of wine to enjoy!
Find out more about our wine tours here : http://www.discoverfrance.com/adventure-vacation/wine-tours-france