50 things to improve your life

#49 – Grape harvest in the Minervois

If you think you know what it takes to produce a bottle of wine, think again. About 90 minutes from Toulouse in the shadow of the Black Hill (la montagne noire), vines burst with juicy grapes come September and they will forever change your views on wine. The traditions surrounding harvest might be foreign to you, but its an opportunity to celebrate, be part of something ancient and delicious and in my opinion, the most authentic place to experience it is in the La Livinière / Minervois region.

While some large scale producers have invested in equipment to mechanically harvest grapes, many family-run chateaux still rely on friends to help out at the height of “les vendanges”. You don’t participate for the pay (you will get a case of wine for an afternoon of back-breaking labour). You show up because you want to be part of history.

Your fingers will be raw, your skin stained purple for days and the locals will likely make fun of you a little. But by lunch-time, sitting with your newest friends, you will sip local wine, and marvel at how delicious the stew is because it was cooked using red wine from grapes that have grown in the area for thousands of years and you, hobbyist from a far away land, know what it takes to be a vigneron.

One comment

  1. Sounds like you’ve been there and done that!! It’s a real eye opener, just experiencing how backbreaking this work can be. No surprise that many people have switched to mechanical harvesting, but the pruning still has to be done by hand!!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and the follow and likes!


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