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7 ways to get involved in the wine harvest

For wine makers and merchants, the harvest is the most important time of the year. While you might not have your own vineyard, getting involved is easier than you think

7 ways to get involved in the wine harvest
Harvesting grapes. Image: Getty

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1 // Burgundy
As one of the world’s greatest wine regions, there’s no shortage of places to get engrossed in grape picking in eastern France. At Château de Pommard, near Beaune, the Harvest 2017 Experience is perfect for oenophiles to learn more about the region’s greatest export. Pickers experience all the traditions before tucking into local fare and tasting more than 20 Burgundy appellations. visitfrenchwine.com/en 

2 // Tuscany
In the rolling vineyards around Lucca, visitors can join the age-old vendemmia (harvest) that brings this bucolic corner of Italy to life. It’s a slow food approach to harvesting at the biodynamic vineyard Podere Còncori, where even the bottling is in sync with the lunar cycle. Pickers can — almost literally — get stuck in with some therapeutic underfoot grape squelching, before toasting their efforts with a glass of the local stuff. sapori-e-saperi.com

3 // Styria
The rolling vineyards and warm climate of South Styria are among Austria’s hidden gems. The pesticide-free Georgiberg Estate relies solely on manpower to pick the grapes, so for a traditional, hands-on approach to harvesting, it’s a good bet.

4 // Douro Valley 
After learning about the Portuguese region’s fine wines and picking the best grapes for pressing, Quinta do Pôpa vineyard rewards travellers with an al fresco lunch, so grab one of their picnics and throw down a blanket for a memorable afternoon in Portugal’s premier wine country.

5 // Roussillon
France’s enchanting Côte Vermeille region offers a heavenly harvest at Clos des Paulilles, where the salty breeze imparts the wines with a delicate, mineral flavour. After a Catalan-inspired breakfast (the Spanish border is under an hour away), head to the cellars to sample the local Collioure and Banyuls wines, before ending the day with a lesson in winemaking, exploring the vineyard’s different techniques and traditions. 

6 // Jerez 
Jump headfirst into the harvest season in the birthplace of sherry, where the locals herald the start of the grape-picking season every September with the Fiesta de la Vendimia. In true Andalucían style, the city’s streets are flooded with music, horse parades and flamenco, with plenty of grape crushing, wine tasting and vineyard tours for good measure. spain.info/en

7 // Sussex 
English wine has burst onto the scene in recent years, so now’s the time to stay at home for the harvest. The morning is spent learning all about production before budding vignerons are shown the ropes — or rather the vines — at Bluebell Vineyard, including a crash course in how to pick the best grapes. After lunch, pop open the estate’s award-winning wines and take in the beautiful East Sussex downs.

Vino guzzlers

The Wine Institute’s figures reveal Andorra consumes the most wine per capita: 3,936,000 litres in 2014, or the equivalent of 76 bottles per citizen. The US drinks more than any other country — 3.2 billion litres in 2014 — but that’s just 9.9 litres per capita, putting it 55th overall.

Published in the October 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)