Friday, September 13, 2019

Les vendanges

That's the French word for the grape harvest, which got under way in our area on Wednesday. I saw two harvesters out on Thursday, two different growers picking white grapes in their respective parcels. It's interesting how small some of the parcels can be and how they make up a patchwork of different varietals and different owners.

A harvester and trailer, both pulled by tractors, get into position for the morning's work.

It's also interesting to look at the different styles of harvesting. A few parcels are picked by hand. In some grape-growing regions of France, like Champagne and Beaujolais, hand-picking is required by law. In other areas, vineyards may be too steep or otherwise not able to accommodate harvesting machines. I read somewhere that hand-harvesting is done in much of Burgundy because pinot noir grapes are too fragile for the machines. There is a little pinot noir grown in our region, but not much. Hand-picking is not required by law in our area, so I wonder if it's a marketing thing for the high-end wines.

Tractor-pulled harvester on the left, newer driven harvesting machine on the right.

In the photo above, there are two types of harvesters. On the left is an older model that is pulled by a tractor. On the right, a more modern model that is driven, no tractor necessary. In each case, the machines vibrate and suck the grapes off the vines (I'm sure there's a more elegant way to say that). When the harvester's storage bins are full, the operator will empty them into a larger trailer (below). When that's full, another driver takes it to the winery for processing while the harvester continues to pick.

A special trailer for transporting grapes to the winery a few kilometers away.

As I wrote this, just after seven a.m., a harvester and a trailer drove past the house and out into the vineyard to begin the day's work. The sun's not up yet, but the weather is supposed to be hot today and I'm guessing the growers want to pick their grapes in the cool of the morning when they might be less susceptible to damage.


  1. Beautiful light in the photos. You must be so tired of the heat.

  2. Would grapes picked early also retain more of the moisture? Maybe that's another reason for the 7 a.m. start.
    I wonder if hand-picking is done in, say, the regions of Italy up toward Bolzano and Venice that are so terraced? Never thought of it until you mentioned this, but I imagine machines wouldn't work well for them, either.

  3. mitch, I know I'll miss it when it gets cold.

    emm, sounds probable!


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