Les Vendanges – getting to grips with the grape harvest in France

What is Les Vendanges?

Here’s a simple infographic to explain more about it:

infographic: Access Riviera

infographic: Access Riviera

During vendange months, French vineyards employ up to 300,000 workers with the highest proportion working in the Champagne and Rhone Alpes regions.

What are other factors that affect Les Vendanges?

The grape variety: white varieties usually ripen before reds.

The elevation and climate: in higher altitudes, grapes ripen later. Weather, soil and elevation of the vineyard are also influencers.

It is interesting to note that due to climate warming, the start dates of the harvest have moved forward a month over the last half century.

buckets of grapes during vendange (image: spdv.fr)

buckets of grapes during vendange (image: spdv.fr)

I notice the letters ‘AOC’ on French wine bottles all the time, what does it mean?

AOC translates to ‘Appellation d’origine contrôlée’ – in lay-mans terms this is labelling wines based on their geographical region and there are strict laws in place to protect the destinations winemaking and production. In the French Riviera region, the vineyards of Bellet are part of an AOC-classified area.

wine label for Château de Bellet showing classification as an 'Appellation controlée

wine label for Château de Bellet showing classification as an ‘Appellation côntrolée’

Where are the locations of vineyards I can visit on the French Riviera?

For a great overview of where to start on your wine-lovers tour on the French Riviera, Chrissie from Riviera Grapevine has done the research for you and compiled a nifty guide.

You can read her guide here.

Are there any French Riviera harvest festivals happening soon?

The perched village of Saint-Paul de Vence is holding a ‘Fête des Vendanges’ between 10am-7pm on Sunday 19 October 2014.

a day's bounty (image courtesy of St-Paul de Vence Tourism)

a day’s bounty (image courtesy of St-Paul de Vence Tourism)

The festival will celebrate the wine-growers of Saint-Paul, Tourrettes-sur-Loup, and Saint Jeannet with free wine tastings.

Also onsite will be market stalls with local produce growers and chestnut vendors – if you have never eaten roasted chestnuts, it’s a must-do!

Where can I get work picking grapes in France?

There are numerous places to start looking for work at French vineyards. The work may be arduous, but you usually receive meals and sometimes lodging. Having some knowledge of French language is a bonus, but not essential. Pickers during harvest time include local French residents, backpackers and viticulture students so you are certain to meet interesting people.

Here are a few websites to assist your search (I am not affilitated to any of these websites or companies and any third party information may be subject to change at any time):


www.pole-emploi.fr (under ‘Emploi recherché’, type ‘vendangeur’ which basically means ‘grape picker’.



I hope you learned something about Les Vendanges, or French wine.  If you have found this blog post informative it would be great if you could please share and retweet it.

As they say in France, ‘Santé’! so cheers to you all during Les Vendanges.


3 thoughts on “Les Vendanges – getting to grips with the grape harvest in France

  1. Hi Rebecca, great post, and thanks for the mentions – equally as lovely to have discovered your blog as well. Really like the infographic too, look forward to reading more 🙂


  2. Pingback: The Appeal of Owning a French Vineyard Property | France Property Magazine

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