Grape picking in the Beaujolais: an authentic experience

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Ah, the grape harvests in the Beaujolais region! It’s a period of intense emotions, a time when 50,000 grape pickers, young and not quite so young, men and women, experienced and novices, from all over the world come to lend a very welcome and very necessary hand to the winegrowers!

Everyone meets up early in the morning to make their way to their designated grape picking spot for the day. Their mission is to pick the best bunches of grapes!

What is unique about grape picking in the Beaujolais region

The enthusiastic workers and professionals who work side by side during the grape picking season fully deserve the adjective courageous. Some of the vines cling to hillsides at over 500 meters above sea level, sloping down to 200 meters at gradients of up to 50%.

Grape picking in the Beaujolais might be tricky at times but it is also an exhilarating experience. Physical labor combined with the friendly and sociable atmosphere as everyone works together in the vines leaves a lasting impression on those that take part. Some of them come back year after year and become perfect ambassadors for Beaujolais.

 

Manual harvest

Harvest in the Beaujolais takes place between the end of August and the beginning of October, and in most estates the grapes are picked by hand.  Many of the growers who opt for a manual harvest do so because the location and layout of their vineyards leaves them with no other choice.

Vine plantations in the Beaujolais are densely packed and often on extremely steep slopes. Harvesting machines simply can’t reach these areas where man’s agility and dexterity is required to harvest the precious buches of grapes.

And there’s no doubt that hand picking plays an important role in the quality of the wine in so far as it means that the grapes are treated as carefully as possible.

 

A meticulous step by step process

Every gesture is precise. Everyone has his or her role. It starts with the “cutters” who pull off a few leaves and cut the stalk at the base with secateurs to free the bunches of grapes. They then painstakingly check that the bunch isn’t damaged and inspect the quality of the grapes.

The “cutters” put the best of what they have picked in the baskets of the “porters” who walk up and down the rows of vines.  The grapes are then taken to the cellar for vatting.

The bunches of grapes are stored in vats for several days before pressing.

 

Grape picking in the Beaujolais region is usually great fun and very sociable. Of course, conditions are not always that easy and the work begins at dawn. But it’s also a time for sharing and for people to work together side by side. The future of all Beaujolais wines, including the Beaujolais, the Beaujolais-Villages and the crus depends on this willingness to work together.  And it’s no mean feat!

Incentives

See on Beaujolais.com : the video about the harvest in the Beaujolais.

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