Grape Harvest at Beaumes-de-Venise

Beaumes-de-venise Wine Country

The Beaumes-de-Venise vineyards are located in a magnificent region

Back on April 21, 2011, my friend Didier and I were given a tour of the Beaumes-de-Venise winery, a cooperative of over 200 vintners. During that visit, we were shown how grapes are converted to juice, and how that juice is then processed into wine, bottled, labeled, and readied for shipping. This was a most instructive visit, but we did not actually see a single grape that day. Of course, we could not leave things at that!

At the end of July, we visited the wine country again, this time to photograph the grapes near Châteauneuf-du-Pape and, of course, Beaumes-de-Venise. Following a kind invitation by Claude Chabran, President of the cooperative's Management Committee, we returned to Beaumes-de-Venise during the vendanges, the grape harvest. Claude drove us around the spectacular area with its many vineyards, and we were able to see and photograph some vendangeurs (pickers) as well as the tractors and trucks that deliver grapes to the cooperative in a seemingly never-ending ballet of vehicles.

Click on any image to see a larger (1500 x 1000 pixel) version!


Driving up the mountain with the Land Rover Wine country

Driving up the mountain with the Land Rover

Wine country


The 'Dentelles de Montmirail' A lovely road to drive on

The Dentelles de Montmirail

A lovely road to drive on


In the hills above Lafare These grapes are ready to be picked!

In the hills above Lafare

These grapes are ready to be picked!


The village of Lafare The church bells of Suzette and the Mont Ventoux

The village of Lafare

The church bells of Suzette and the Mont Ventoux

The whole area is sprinkled with small villages and hamlets. The roads, even though often unpaved, were mostly fine, though there were many instances where an all-terrain vehicle was simply mandatory. During the drive, our host Claude patiently answered our many questions, entertained us with countless anecdotes, stopped the Land Rover whenever he sensed that we wanted to take a few shots, and helped us find some pickers, not as easy a feat as one might think given that it was lunchtime. He did manage, however, and fortunately they did not mind having their picture taken.


In the Land Rover Claude Chabran, 'Mr. Beaumes-de-Venise'

In the Land Rover

Claude Chabran, "Mr. Beaumes-de-Venise"


The trophy Grape pickers This job can kill your back!

The trophy

Grape pickers

This job can kill your back!


These friendly people... ...were working through lunch... ...to get the job done...

These friendly people...

...were working through lunch...

...to get the job done...


...but they did take some time to pose... ...and to wave goodbye when we left.

...but they did take some time to pose...

...and to wave goodbye when we left.


Where the 'Château Juvenal' comes from Among the vines

Where the Château Juvenal comes from

Among the vines

As is clearly evident from all these photos, the weather was outstanding. This is not really uncommon in this region; indeed, the grapes get an enormous amount of sunshine every year, a fact that helps explain the exceptional quality of the local wines. The area is so beautiful that it was hard to remember that the topic of the day was the grape harvest, and so a couple of hours after we had set out, and after having photographed a few more pickers, we returned to the cooperative in Beaumes-de-Venise.


Cypress tree Looking towards the Rhône Valley

Cypress tree

Looking towards the Rhône Valley


Cedar and Maple Vines

Cedar and Maple

Vines


Another group of pickers... ...and their nearly full wagon.

Another group of pickers...

...and their nearly full wagon.


La Roque Alric Back at the cooperative

La Roque Alric

Back at the cooperative

Lines of trucks and tractors pulling wagons laden with grapes formed in the large courtyard of the cooperative. One after another, they backed up to one of two receiving areas and unloaded their cargo into the stainless steel receiving bins. From there, a screw conveyor moved the fruit into a series of pipes leading to the presses. There were more wagons pulled by tractors than trucks, presumably because the wagons are easier to use in the vineyards. The grapes were unloaded by raising the beds and letting gravity do the work. Whatever did not fall into the bins was removed by hosing down the vehicles.


Vintners are bringing grapes... ...in wagons or trucks.

Vintners are bringing grapes...

...in wagons or trucks.


For the grapes, this is the final stop They are transferred from the wagons...

For the grapes, this is the final stop

They are transferred from the wagons...


...into the receiving bins... ...from where a screw conveyor moves them into the building.

...into the receiving bins...

...from where a screw conveyor moves them into the building.


New vehicles arrive constantly... ...and are unloaded one after another.

New vehicles arrive constantly...

...and are unloaded one after another.


The trucks or wagons are hosed down... ...while some of the men discuss the harvest.

The trucks or wagons are hosed down...

...while some of the men discuss the harvest.

Before any of the vehicles are unloaded, the name of the vineyard and the quantity and type of grapes is recorded. This is all done by hand. During our previous visit, we had already seen all the equipment used in the wine-making process, so we won't dwell on it on this page. Suffice it to say that the best part of the finest grapes might one day end up in the Balma Vénitia Vinothèque where the very best bottles are kept, but whatever is not needed, such as the skins and the stems, is automatically discarded and piled up in the back of the cooperative where it forms a colorful contrast with the green of the building.


A waiting line is forming Every delivery is duly noted The 'Vinothèque'

A waiting line is forming

Every delivery is duly noted

The Vinothèque


In the back, the rejected skins and stems pile up Too bad there's no plug-in to convey the smell!

In the back, the rejected skins and stems pile up

Too bad there's no plug-in to convey the smell!

Didier and I would once again like to thank Claude Chabran, President of the cooperative's Management Committee, for being such a friendly and considerate host. We would also like to remind the reader that the winery has a visitor center that is open every day of the year except December 25 and January 1; the hours are 8:30 AM to noon and 2 PM to 6 PM in the winter and 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 2 PM to 7 PM in the summer. Visitors may taste, and of course purchase, from the extensive product line. For people who happen to find themselves in the area and who appreciate a good wine, the Beaumes-de-Venise cooperative is definitely a mandatory stop. Location and contact information follows:

Cave Balma Vénitia
Vignerons de Beaumes-de-Venise
228 route de Carpentras
Quartier Ravel
84190 Beaumes-de-Venise
France

Phone: +33 490 12 41 00
Fax : +33 490 65 02 05

web: http://www.beaumes-de-venise.com (French only)
email : vignerons@beaumes-de-venise.com

GPS: 44.119537° N, 5.014068° E





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