The wine harvest season is one of the best times of year in
France, with many wine festivals and tastings taking place giving visitors the
chance to sample some of the newly produced wines.
When are the grapes harvested?
Harvests can begin as early as August and as late as
October, depending on the region, though the normal month for harvesting is
September. Dates vary depending on the ripeness of the grapes, so sometimes
growers have to wait for the grapes to achieve optimum ripeness. Climate is the
main factor affecting when grapes are harvested; for instance, if an area has
suffered a heatwave, grapes can be harvested several weeks earlier than usual.
Deciding when to harvest grapes is also calculated based on the sugar content
of the grapes as well as the ripeness of the grape skins.
During the harvest
Depending on the size of the plots, wine harvests can take
several days or even weeks. During this time, youll see tractors making their
way through the vineyards, transporting crate after crate of grapes to the
presses to be processed further. The vines are then left bare, and the long
wait for next years grapes begins. While the majority of wine harvesting is
done by machine, some regions formally prohibit the use of harvesting
machinery. This has led to a resurgence of grapes harvested manually, leading
to an increase in quality, which is seen as important to the wine producers despite
the decrease in efficiency.
A few exceptions
Some grape varieties are harvested even as late as November,
as they have special characteristics that need time to develop. In Jurancon,
for instance, the grapes dry on the vine, which concentrates their sugar and
helps to produce a sweet and strong wine perfect for aperitifs. Some grapes in
the Layon Valley, Alsace and Sauterne also use the help of a mushroom to
develop unique flavours. The botrytis cinerea brings about something called
noble rot, which allows for a concentration of sugars and other strong
flavours in the grapes.
With the wine harvest currently going on, theres no better
time to make the most of a last minute deal and enjoy a top-quality wine
holiday. From villas in Provence to beautiful places to stay in Bordeaux, we
have a range of luxury accommodation set amongst wonderful wine regions and
Image: Peter Werkman,
available under Creative Commons
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