The harvest season is about to begin!
Ripe grapes on top, ready to evaluate in liquid pleasure. Bended hard workers in the vineyard with the juice on their arms and the sweat on their backs. A romantic image, but meanwhile long days, laborious work. The harvest season is about to begin!
Ban des Vendanges
An age-old tradition where the landlord gave official permission to lift the “Ban Des Vendanges” or the prohibition of harvesting. Until recently, this medieval imposition was maintained by most departments in France and eagerly awaited the administrative approval. Nowadays, each producer can determine when the picking starts. Is the ripening exactly as desired? Is the sugar content optimal? And of course the balance of acidity plays an important role for the winemaker. Usually this date falls 100 days after the first flowering of the vines.
The ball of the secateurs
The first regions will start picking from the end of August. The harvest spreads over about three months and generally starts in the South earlier than the North. Areas such as Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon and Corsica usually kick off “the ball of pruners”. And then a series of days of hard labor begins.
Picked by hand
Harvesting with machines ensures faster and cheaper production, with the risk that even worse grapes sail along on the success of the mechanization. That is why many winegrowers, especially in the better wine regions, choose old-fashioned hand picking. In this way, it can be properly assessed per grape whether it is ripe enough for the process. For example, a fragile grape such as Pinot Noir can only be picked by hand.
Influence of climate change on the vintage
Due to climate change, the harvest in France is generally about two weeks earlier than it was. Under the influence of temperature, sun and rain, the grapes ripen faster than before. The fermentation process, and therefore the alcohol percentage, is also influenced by the higher temperatures. For centuries, the grapes were picked in the same period, until global warming has accelerated since the 80’s. From 1354 to 1987 the peak was always at the end of September and since 1988 it has shifted to mid-September. French farmers are looking for alternatives, such as new vineyards in relatively cooler areas.
Bistrot Neuf on tour
The exact date for the kick-off is usually determined at the last minute. The high temperatures can have a great influence on ripening just before the final finish. The heat wave that we now enjoy can thus delay up to a week. At the end of August – or the first week of September – Bistrot Neuf heads to Alsace to experience it with his own eyes (hands and taste buds). Keep an eye on our social media channels and join us in the grape picking process.