TasteVirginie Van Der WeesWines and Spirits of Provence

Understanding Vendanges the Grape Harvest in Provence

Recently, I met Ana Sofia, event manager at Château Grand Boise. The Château Grand Boise has existed since 1610. There is also a symbolic cuvée named “1610” created to commemorate the historic origins of the property. Ana Sofia and her husband took over the management of the estate in 2013 and revolutionized its management, by launching into biodynamics.

Récemment, j’ai rencontré Ana Sofia, responsable événementiel du Château Grand Boise. Le Château Grand Boise existe depuis 1610. Il y a d’ailleurs une cuvée symbolique à ce nom. Ana Sofia et son mari ont repris la gérance du domaine en 2013 et ont révolutionné sa gestion, notamment en se lançant dans la biodynamie.

Chateau Grand Boise entry

Château Grand Boise ©Studio Amarante

As the harvest approached, she took the time to answer my questions about this period that is so rich and special for the people of Provence. In Provence, the harvest has been going on for more than 2000 years. It really is part of the soul of the locals.

A l’approche des vendanges, cette dernière a pris le temps de répondre à mes questions sur cette période si riche et particulière pour les Provençaux. En Provence, les vendanges se font en effet depuis plus de 2000 ans. Cela fait vraiment partie de l’âme des habitants de la région.

Before starting the interview, Ana Sofia explained the different terms related to wine. The words used are sometimes complex. So, I was glad.

Avant de commencer l’entretien, Ana Sofia a expliqué les différents termes liés au vin. Les mots utilisés sont parfois complexes. Alors, j’étais content.

There is a summary of these words at the end of this article.

Il y’a un récapitulatif de ces mots à la fin de cet article.

Discover Château Grand Boise

How many hectares do you have? 

We have 40 hectares in production and 300 hectares of forests and garrigue or scrubland.

Combien d’hectares avez-vous ?

Nous avons 40 hectares en production et 300 hectares de forêts et garrigues.

Vendanges Grape Harvest Provence

Château Grand Boise ©Studio Amarante

What is scrubland?

The garrigue is a rocky ground where the typical vegetation of Provence grows (wild plants such as thyme, rosemary, etc.).

Qu’est-ce que la garrigue ?

La garrigue est un terrain rocailleux où pousse la végétation typique de la Provence (des plantes sauvages comme le thym, le romarin, etc.).

Vendanges Grape Harvest Provence

Château Grand Boise ©Studio Amarante

When do we know the grapes are ready?

We know it from tasting. We analyze the sweetness, texture, and acidity. The choice to start the harvest is therefore closely linked to the knowledge of the winegrower and his experience. We also send samples to laboratories for further analysis. All parameters are checked. But instinct will always prevail over test results.

Quand sait-on que le raisin est prêt ?

Nous le savons à la dégustation. Nous analysons la sucrosité, la texture et l’acidité. Le choix de commencer les vendanges est donc étroitement lié à la connaissance du vigneron et son expérience. Nous envoyons aussi les échantillons à des laboratoires qui font des analyses plus poussées. Tous les paramètres sont vérifiés. Mais l’instinct prédominera toujours sur les résultats d’analyse.

Vendanges Grape Harvest Provence

Château Grand Boise ©Studio Amarante

Why is the choice of the start date of the harvest so important?

The composition is important because we want balanced, digestible and fresh wines. If we wait too long, the grapes will be too sweet. If there is too much sugar, there will be too much alcohol and the wine will be too heavy.

Pourquoi le choix de la date du début des vendanges est si important ?

La composition est importante car nous voulons des vins équilibrés, digestes et frais. Si nous attendons trop, le raisin sera peut-être trop sucré. S’il y a trop de sucre, il y aura trop d’alcool et le vin sera moins digeste.

What fertilizer do you use?

We are in biodynamics. We will soon receive the certification. Biodynamics considers the Earth as a “Whole”. Biodynamics makes it possible to find a kind of total balance between all the areas that influence the Earth. This takes into account plants, insects, the moon, etc. We use the Earth’s natural defence mechanism to act against disease. Natural treatments are made with plants such as horsetail, chamomile and cow dung, etc.

Quel engrais utilisez-vous ?

Nous sommes en biodynamie. Nous allons d’ailleurs bientôt recevoir la certification. La biodynamie considère la Terre comme un « Tout ». La biodynamie permet de trouver une sorte d’équilibre total entre tous les domaines qui influencent la Terre. Cela prend en compte les plantes, les insectes, la lune, etc. Nous utilisons le mécanisme de défenses naturelles de la Terre pour agir contre la maladie. Les traitements se font à la prêle, la camomille, la bouse de vaches, etc.

Continue reading here for the original article.

Vendanges Grape Harvest Provence

Château Grand Boise ©Studio Amarante

A little vocabulary…

The varietal is the type of the plant (like Syrah, Grenache)
The vineyard indicates the area in which there are vines.
A foudre is a barrel of a large capacity.

Un peu de vocabulaire…

Le cépage c’est la variété de la plante (comme le Syrah, le Grenache)
Le vignoble indique le domaine sur lequel se trouvent des vignes.
Un foudre est un tonneau de très grande capacité.

Visit the Vinyard

Château Grand Boise
1536 Chemin de Grisole
13530 Trets-en-Provence
Telephone: +33 (0)4 42 29 22 95


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Virginie Van Der Wees

Virginie Van Der Wees lives with her young family near the Montagne Sainte Victoire, a short 20-minute drive from Aix-En-Provence. She is a masseuse and a certified French teacher for non-French speakers. Since 2018, Virginie puts together full immersion experiences that include hosting and supporting language learners at their family home.

The Virginie in Provence curriculum allows students to build on their knowledge and move to the next level and beyond – all while enjoying the wonders that Provence has to offer. Suitable for any age group, Virginie offers adapted, tailor-made solutions for clients who are moving to Provence. This program allows them to improve their French and overcome cultural changes. Virginie also provides classic French lessons and cooking lessons (in French) online or at the client’s home.

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