It’s that time again: La vendange

Remy and Gait
Gait (manager) Remy (owner)

One might imagine that things get rather quiet in a small rural village after the tourist season draws to a close. Yet, that is not the case. As early as late August, the vignerons begin the harvest. There will be some unfamiliar faces as young people from all over europe arrive to help get the raisins (grapes). From before seven in the morning until the last shards of light fade away the streets are a hive of tractors, grape harvesters and vehicles filled with pickers on their way to the vineyards and large trailers brimming with freshly harvested grapes.

Local beauty
Local beauty

The Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest wine-producing region in France. More wine is produced in this one small region than in the entire United States.  A wide variety of grapes are grown here such as Grenache, Syrah as well as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. While Languedoc wines cover a rather broad spectrum, from white to red; sweet to dry and of course sparkling which pre-dates Champagne (but that will be another post and another time). The region proudly cultivates the vines on over 700,000 acres here along the Mediterranean coast. It is thought to be the single largest wine-producing area in the world.
The Languedoc-Roussillon is arid, warm and brimming with sunlight. The rugged terrain of herbs, brush and resinous plants infuse the wine with their scents and flavours. It is the ideal terrain and climate for growing grapes. While the quality became secondary to quantity for a time in the early twentieth century the hard working vignerons  committed themselves to turning it around with remarkable results.

My neighbour, Remy,  makes a lovely collection of organic wines and also grape juice. If I am lucky, I can buy a few of the days pickings that did not end up in the vats. Gait is a manager for Remy and has the “honour” of having the buckets of grapes from all the pickers loaded into the large container on his back (porter). Being quite tall, he must bend to allow the pickers to dump the fruit into the container on his back which quickly fills. He follows around all of the people who are cutting the clusters of grapes and then transports his container when filled to the trailer which will quickly be transported back to the cave and on its way to the vats. While it is true that large machines harvest a vast amount of the grapes, a number prefer the hands on approach. Additionally, some of the terrain is such that this is not a viable option.

Tomek (seasonal worker from Poland)

Most of the workers are seasonal and some speak little french.
The perfume of fermenting grapes begins to fill the air as fêtes de vins fill our weekends with tastings, dances, music and more. They last well through November even though the last grapes have been harvested. While these photos are all taken at Domaine Sainte Juste, and Embres – Castlemaure there are a several wonderful options in just this small village alone (pop. 700). There are many more vineyards just a few kilometers away. Embres – Castlemaure is a cooperative and Durban has a wide variety of Vigneron (wine grower) There are at least thirteen seperate caves here. In addition, there are many who have smaller vineyards and make wine just for personal use or sell to a cooperative.

Vineyards are everywhere
Vineyards are everywhere


Porters, Corneilus and Yost
Porters, Corneilus and Yost


If you want an extreme workout, try the porter’s job. The receptacles they carry on their back hold 60 kilo or a little over 132 pounds. They are carrying these up and down hills and then taking them to the awaiting trailer to be hauled of to the cave.

Fill those containers and keep moving!
Fill those containers and keep moving!





Remy owner Domaine Saint Juste
Remy owner Domaine Saint Juste



Remains of the day
Remains of the day
Embres - Castlemaure Cooperative
Embres – Castlemaure Cooperative
Fruit on the vine
Fruit on the vine


Load it up!
Load it up!

Remember, you can always click on the photos to enlarge them.




20 thoughts on “It’s that time again: La vendange

    1. Cynthia, if you tried the local red, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Also, the small sack of grapes from the Organic cave, each grape tastes like a glass of his wine…

  1. What a wonderful trip you have taken us on today Lea! Those statistics re producing more wine than the whole of the US arequite surprising! And rhat is some weight they are carrying on their backs!! 😊 xxx

    1. Thank you Christine. You cannot look anywhere here without seeing vineyards. I’ve never had wine that comes even close to what some of our local vignerons produce! Santé! xxx

    1. I know you will have a wonderful time! I can’t wait to hear all about it.
      Beware the upcoming post. It contains a tiny bit of sizzle! 😉 xxx

  2. Lea the photo’s are wonderful and I know how hard these people work to get their produce. It is a life’s passion and I imagine you could sit in the vineyard and write poetry with a fine drop of local wine, the best kind of wine I am sure.

    1. Kath, I thought I liked wine before coming here but didn’t drink a lot. Now, I have become quite particular and still watch the amount. One really does get spoiled for the best here. Thank you. I never feel the photos do it all justice.

  3. you gave us a wonderful tour and now a wish that I could wander there myself….Thank you for your images and beautiful description
    I enjoyed it very much….
    Take Care…You Matter…

    1. All you need to do is come to the south of France this time of year… 🙂 It is stunning and I know how fortunate I am to be here. x

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