Take an Oenological Break in France
Special to Road Trips for Wine
Wine Tourism in France
The grape picking season got underway at the end of August in a number of French wine-growing regions. Now is the time that wine growers call on the services of seasonal workers. If you are interested in vineyards, but don’t want to do the picking, an alternative is an oenological break.
Here is a guide on how to get involved in grape picking or to visit the vineyards.
The grape pickers’ profile
Don’t be fooled: grape picking is hard work. Tourism and grape picking do not necessarily mix well. The majority of grape pickers are job seekers or young people seeking work for a little extra pocket money. They must be in good physical condition because, the fun aspect aside, grape picking is laborious work, often in a bending position and requiring patience and dexterity. Nonetheless, men and women at least 16 years old are welcome to join in. In general, there are three kinds of jobs: cutters, carriers and bucket emptiers.
A few grape-picking holidays
For those of you who want to discover the grape harvests without working in the vineyards all season long, several discovery breaks are possible, notably:
- Cave de Gigondas (Provence) welcomes visitors in September. For a day, visitors can familiarize themselves with grape harvesting and wine-making, enjoy a local meal in the cellar and take part in tasting sessions with explanations from a wine grower, oenologist and cellar master. They also take you on a walk and tell you about the Gigondas appellation. Prices depend on the number of visitors and the activities chosen: from €45 to €68 for the day. For information and bookings: +33 (0)4 90 65 86 27
- Come and visit the vineyards of the Musée de la Vigne et du Vin d’Anjou (Anjou Vine and Wine Museum) (Pays de la Loire) in Clos Linkebeek to take part in manual grape picking. You will be able to press your grapes in the ancient style and then enjoy the aromas of your grape juice. After a musical cocktail, a grand dinner will take place in exceptional surroundings. Jean-Michel MONNIER, a well known oenologist, will share his knowledge of wine with you. Price: €43 per person / Booking compulsory – Limited number of places. Information and booking at the Musée de la Vigne et du Vin d’Anjou on +33 (0)2 41 78 42 75 or by e-mail: email@example.com
- Mystère des Vendanges (The Mystery of the Grape Harvests) break at Château de Berne (Provence) – 2 nights in a Deluxe room (breakfast and 1 dinner (Saveur menu) with tasting of the Château’s wines) and ½ day to “Discover the Grape Harvests” including lunch (drinks included). A fun and instructive way to learn and discuss with the domain’s wine growers who love talking about their know-how and passion. The break involves picking grapes and taking them to the Cellar, a technical visit of the cellars and a tasting with commentary to make your taste buds tingle! Lastly, lunch at the Bouscarelle, in the shade of the olive trees, is a reward for all! Starting at €520 per person in a double room (valid from mid-September to mid-October).