France the French way


Vintage Rally Provence

Posted: 2011-10-01

Grapes ready for Harvest

In the heat of a late provencal summer afternoon I love a glass of chilled Rosé wine!

I am presently in Provence, France, living in the village of Caromb. Not only am I sharing the odd glass of Rosé with my darling wife, but we are right in the midst of the harvest for the 2010 vintage.

As you arrive in our village you know straight away the harvest of grapes is in full swing. You are greeted by a sign which warns you that the wine harvest, known as “vendange” is under way. “Vendange – Chaussée Glissante” – “Wine Harvest – Slippery Road Surface”. I’ve never seen a sign like this before welcoming you to a town!

This warning sign is relevant and required. From 6am in the morning until 6pm in the evening the streets are a constant flow of small work-horse tractors towing large trailers groaning with grapes bursting with precious juices. The roadsides are splattered with the excess grapes that seemed to escape their trailers only to be “juiced” early by the passing cars!

Beware Wine Harvest - Slippery Road Surfaces

We are in the wine appellation known as the Cote du Ventoux which specializes mainly in Rosé wines, and here the majority of wine is processed by the local cooperative with only a small minority producing their own wines at their own wineries. So it is clear that the local wine cooperative, St Marc, is abuzz with the processing of grapes. Each farmer empties his precious cargo in to the processing vat, where his load is weighed and recorded, then off he goes in his tractor to collect his next load of liquid gold, before again making his way back to the processing plant.

On the warm days the smell of fermenting grapes pervades the entire village – there is no escape from these intoxicating smells.

Wine Cooperative Processing, Caromb

It is as if we are truly living in the midst of a giant winery. The atmosphere is all invading, and the locals all express their excitement at this annual “event” that comes to their towns all over France. One local expressed his concern that now there is only a small fraction of hand picking done in this appellation, the spirit isn’t quite the same as it used to be – however mechanical harvesting is indeed more economical.

This process is being repeated in every wine growing village across France. The summer sunshine has done its work and now it is the turn of the winemakers to turn their produce in to a final product that people all around the world can buy from their local supermarket.

I’ve got to rush. The village bell has just chimed six times, so it must be 6pm and I’m ready for a wine!!

A votre santé!

PS You may like to see where I am presently staying in one of my favourite rental homes

Mechanical Harvesting in the Ventoux wine appellation
Harvested grapes are unloaded into the tractor's trailers.
It's hard work for every man and his dog!
Thierry, the owner of Domaine Pigeade smiles in satisfaction at his "new" Beaumes de Venise! Visit him at Here's a happy man!