The summer is over. It’s time for the to-ing and fro-ing of grape-pickers and tractors wending their way backwards and forwards, from cellar to vineyards. Although there’s a lovely, friendly atmosphere, grape-picking is also genuinely hard work. It’s not always fun, particularly at the end of the day, when you’ve been bent double since early morning, labouring under a blazing sun. But don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you try this!
If you’re interested in learning about the work of wine-growers and want to get involved in all the excitement, but without breaking your back, there are several estates that welcome visitors in September or October, depending on grape maturity. Prior booking is required. It’s a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the excitement of the grape harvest – but just for a few hours: you’ll cut and sort the grapes, help with wine-making in the cellar and enjoy lunch with the winegrowers … over the course of one day, you’ll be granted a unique insight into the world of wine and learn about the secrets involved in producing a fine vintage.
1/Beauvalcinte wine estate, Suzette – Sunday 11th and Sunday 18th September 2016
Enjoy a fully immersive day on this organically farmed estate where you’ll find out about the principles of organic farming; during a stroll through the vineyards, you’ll also learn to recognize the 7 different grape-varieties grown on the estate. Your task will be to gather a few bunches from each (that seems reasonable!), taste the grapes, help press them, and try the pressed juice before joining in the grape-pickers’ meal. It’s a cool idea, don’t you think?
2016 Rate: €45/person. Minimum of 6 people. Other dates available for small groups, on request.
Domaine de Beauvalcinte
Bernard et Sylvie MENDEZ
La Grange Neuve à Beaumes de Venise – Suzette
2/Chefs’ Grape Harvest – Sunday 18th September 2016
A day spent outdoors, in the heart of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountains, combining hiking and gastronomy. The underlying idea: it’s a chance to explore, and taste, different grape-varieties and, of course, enjoy a gourmet stop where you can sample wine from some of the vineyards you’ve passed through. The cherry on the cake: a fun gastro lunch prepared by local Disciples d’Escoffier Chefs. Over large wooden tables, shaded by pines, set up in the middle of vineyards, you can chat about hiking, grapes and, of course, fine wine. A wonderful day and genuine multi-sensory experience. What’s more, you can have fun and then walk it all off. It’s fantastic!
Cave Balma Vénitia
228 Route de Carpentras
Quartier Ravel à Beaumes de Venise
T. 33 (0)4 90 12 41 00
3/ Stay at the Grands Devers wine estate – Valréas – 2 nights/1 day – From mid-September to mid-October
Wine-grower, Louis Pascal Bouchard is originally from the Burgundy region, but the south has been his adopted home for many years. The domaine des Grands Devers is both a family-run wine-producing estate and a B&B. Where better to enjoy a short, grape-harvest holiday, in season? The bedrooms, which are unpretentious, spotless and bright, trace the growth cycle of the vine (flowering, ripening, harvesting and pruning). This is a fun place for a short, overnight trip; you can take part in the harvest and help out with wine making in the cellar; breakfast, dinner and wines included, all for a very reasonable price.
2016 Rate: €132 per person; price includes 1 night in a double room, breakfast, lunch and dinner with wine plus chance to take part in grape-harvest.Domaine des Grands Devers
T. 33 (0)4 90 35 15 98
4/Grape harvest festival at the castle of Clapier, in the Luberon – Saturday 1st October 2016
This old family estate, with 40 hectares of land, is located on the outskirts of Mirabeau village. The expertise and know-how handed down through generations of winemakers has made vineyard a must visit among the AOC Luberon. Château de Clapier regularly organizes convivial, fun-filled, picnic-type events, exhibitions and, of course, the grape-harvest festival, open to all members of the public: special events, visits to old cellars dating back to 1880, grape-picking demonstrations, opportunity to sample estate wines and juice tasting, meals at yhe wine estate. any takers?
Free tours of the cellars led by wine-grower and tasting sessions/chance to purchase wine. Meal (to be paid for), by reservation only
Château de Clapier
T. 33 (0)4 90 77 01 03
And also :
- Grape-harvest day at Château Pesquié in Mormoiron www.chateaupesquie.com
- Grape-harvest day at Cave de Beaumont du Ventoux, Le Barroux www.beaumont-ventoux.com
- 5th grape-harvest picnic, on the 24th September at the Château Jas de Bressy in Châteauneuf-du-pape www.chateauneuf.com
- Grape-harvest festival at Cave de Rasteau Winery on the 1st October www.rasteau.com