Harvesting French Wine

Harvesting French Wine

While many people roll their eyes at the idea of summer coming to an end, French people become liberated as they wait for hundreds of tractors to flee across the country in aims of filling their crates with this year's grape varieties. As a particular fan of vintage Chardonnays, we are taking you on a trip around France to offer an insight into Harvesting French Wine. Grab your glasses and enjoy. Santé!

The wine harvesting season for French wines is traditionally in September. However, depending on how ripe the grapes are (which changes from year to year and from region to region), this process often starts in early August and runs as late as October or November. During the harvest season, the vigneron (the person who monitors the vineyard), will help determine the 'vintage' of the grape. For example, if the grapes were picked in fall 2015, then the 'vintage' of the wine (to be shown on the bottle) is 2015. Traditionally, all of the harvesting is done by human hands and is very labor intensive. In more recent years, technology has been introduced to allow for more mechanical options, but these machines have been unable to produce the same quality as traditional methods. Because of this, some regions prohibit the use of harvesting machinery (in regions such as Beaujolais and Champagne, for example). Thus, hundreds of humans make their way into the vineyards each year to hand-pick grapes, taking several days or even weeks depending on the plot.

Each grape has a different characteristic. In the region of Jurançon, the grapes dry on the vine which concentrate the sugar and produce strong, sweet wines. This process of drying the grapes is known as 'passeriller' and makes delicious aperitifs. 

Vineyards in Jurançon - image: AMC Photography

Jurançon Aerial View - image: www.vins-jurancon.fr

Dry Grapes Make Great Apèritif (the Beverage Served Before a Meal to Stimulate the Appetite) - image: accidentalepicurean.com


In the regions of Sauternes (Bordeaux), Alsace, and Le Loire Valley, the process of growing the grapes must be done using a special fungus, call the botrytis cinerea or the 'noble rot,' which creates a concentration of flavors and sugar in the grapes. The sweet, strong wines obtained using this method are some of the best dessert wines available in the world.

Sauternes Region - image: naturalsweetwines.blogspot.com

The Fungus (Botrytis Cinerea) Used In Grapes From Sauternes - image www.chateaucoutet.com

Sauternes Wine - image: tourisme-en-france.com

Alsace Region - image: anotherheader.worpress.com

La Vallée de la Loire - image: winery88.com


If you are a fan of Champagne wine, then you should know that the recipe typically combines three types of grapes (black Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and white Chardonnay). The carbonation within the bottles happens during a secondary fermentation of the wine. While many people generalize the term Champagne for 'white sparkling wine,' it is illegal to categorize a wine as Champagne unless it follows the strict Appellation - the lawful term used to identify where grapes for a wine are grown. Legal Champagnes must come from the region of Champagne in France and must follow the specific harvesting and creation process.

The French Champagne Region - image: bloomberg.com

Moët et Chandon, One of the Leading Champagne Producers in the World - image: zastavki.com


Harvesting French Wine

The harvesting season in France is among one of the most exciting times of the year for many natives. If you are looking to get away for a trip to France this fall, wine tourism across the country is an incredible experience. To get started, take a peak at the map below and see the variety of wine regions in France! Have you ever been to a French vineyard? Tell us all about it by sending your pics and telling us about your experience to info@jplinguistics.com. We'd love to hear from you! Also, don't forget to brush up on your French before you go, by enrolling in our Private Lessons or Group Classes! Simply visit www.jplinguistics.com to get started! Happy Trails!

A Simple Map of Wine Regions in France - image: wine-tours-france.com