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French harvest looking good, say estate owners

Published:  17 September, 2014

French winemakers are optimistic about the current harvest, especially given the current spell of good weather is making for perfect harvesting conditions.

French winemakers are optimistic about the current harvest, especially given the current spell of good weather is making for perfect harvesting conditions.

France harvestFrance's harvest is underway, with growers optimistic about the cropGood September weather has really helped clinch the deal on a strong French harvest, according to growers.

Estates began picking all over the country in the first week of September, with their whites, while some of the reds, especially Cabernet Sauvignon are slower to ripen.

Tim North, UK director of Les Grands Chais de France, told that its picking began in the first week of September with base wine for Cremant and some white varietals in the South of France. "It is now proceeding rapidly," he added. 

"There was a lot of concern in the second half of August when there was a lot of rain that there would be rot and oidum. However the weather has since been good and people are generally optimistic that quality will be good and volumes normal. The forecast remains good for the next days," North said.

Rhone: "Showing plenty of promise both in terms of quantity and quality".

The good weather associated with the Mistral is ensuring vines remain in good health, while the cooler nights are encouraging "slow but steady ripening and good phenolic maturity", according to the latest report from the Interprofession des Vins AOC Cotes du Rhone & Vallée du Rhone.

The region had plentiful rainfall over the winter, meaning water reserves were at capacity ahead of the very warm, dry spring. Early bud break, and ideal flowering conditions have worked in the region's favour, with Grenache looking particularly good.

Cool summer weather slowed down ripening, and the vines are now just one week ahead of 2013.

"In certain areas, white grape harvests have already begun, while at this stage the earliest red harvests are due to start from September 10 in the southernmost vineyards, becoming gradually later the further north one travels along the Rhône. In the northernmost areas, harvests look set to begin around September 20," the report states.

Champagne: Francoise Peretti, UK director of the Champagne Bureau, told "The latest reports I've had from the Champagne vineyards is that grapes are of high quality. Though much too early to forecast whether producers will decide to vintage or not, it is looking very promising indeed."

Bordeaux: benefited greatly from hot September weather

Jean Christophe Mau, owner of Chateau Brown in Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, said that following July and August's cool and damp weather "there is no doubt that September has improved the prospects for this year's harvest enormously".

Patrick Jestin, chief executive of Dourthe, which owns nine estates in the region, said the weather of the past fortnight had been "wonderful" and with "perfect conditions for harvesting".


Meanwhile, buyers have been urged to act quickly to source grapes in the Languedoc region, where yields look to be down by around 40%.  


Are you in the middle of harvest in France? Let us know how it's going by commenting below, via Twitter on @harperswine or by emailing

Gemma McKenna.