September is one of the busiest and most beautiful months in the Northern Hemisphere wine calendar. After a long wait the grapes are finally ready to be picked, crushed and made into the liquid elixir that we all love - wine!
What’s happening in the vineyard? Depending on the amount of rain and sun that year harvest can start as early as August or as late as October. Generally, grapes for sparkling wines such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are harvested first, to ensure they retain acidity and a low sugar level. These are usually followed by the harvest of white grapes and then the red grapes, which take longer to reach physiological maturation. The latest harvest is usually in December or January, when the temperatures reach -8C, and when the grapes are dehydrated and full of sugars - perfect for the making of dessert wines.
September is the perfect month to experience the harvest season. Each wine region has its own way to mark the harvest tradition, from music, film, food and of course wine festivals. Why not go out there and try for yourself? Here is an overview from Winerist with the best harvest events this September.
7 September - Marathon du Medoc
42km, fine wines and music! This is Bordeaux’s answer to the London Marathon, except that the runners pass through 50 beautiful chateaux and vineyards of the Medoc wine region and it goes on for 3 days. The event attracts 8,500 runners and over 50,000 spectators, many of each wear fancy dress and funny outfits. There are many food stalls along the route where you can tuck into oysters, French cheese and of course wine. On the eve of the race, the Medoc chateau open up their tasting rooms and one chateau, this year being Lamothe Cissac, a traditional pasta meal is served for 1,500 people. It’s great fun, so do not miss it!
7 September - 20 October- Festa dell’Uva
The Festa dell’Uva in Impruneta is at its 87th edition, being the oldest grape festival in Tuscany paying homage to the region’s wines. The festival spans for over a month with a variety of events organised, parades, shows, dances and food stalls.
Picture credit: Panoramio
14 - 21 September - Harvest Film Festival
Douro Film Harvest festival is a different and exceptional event by combining film, gastronomy, the wines of the region, and many other expressions of culture in a unique form. The festival is at its 5the dition and always takes place at the height of the Douro grape harvest to showcase not only the best of cinema but also the beauty and heritage of the region.
Douro's divine beauty. Picture courtesy: Porto Sweet Home
15 September - Jurade de St Emilion
St Emilion is Bordeaux’s most picturesque villages and is synonymous with fine wines. This festival is no surprise a prestigious one and it marks the proclamation of harvest in the village. The Jurade dates back to 1199 and celebrates a historical event when King John gave the rights of the land back to the locals as well as establishing control and quality of the wines. During the festival, the chateaux open their cellar doors for visitors so make sure to pop by.
20 - 22 September - Fete de la Gastronomie, French cuisine festival
This year will mark the 3rd annual Fete de la Gastronomie festival, a country wide celebration of the best France has to offer in the gastronomy department. And we know that is a lot! Chefs and restaurants will be creating menus for the public to taste on the street of French cities and villages. Last year more than 6,000 events were organised nationwide. So head to the streets with family and friends on the 20-22 September to join in and celebrate the rich diversity of French gastronomy.
Picture courtesy: Fete de la Gastronomie
20 - 25 September - La Rioja Harvest Festival
Every September in Logrono, the capital of Rioja wine region, the harvest pay homage to San Mateo, which sees the city turn into a celebration of wine, grape stomping, bull running, parades, air show, fireworks and plenty of local delicacies. One of the most spectacular events is the treading of the grapes: young people wearing traditional clothing, tread the fresh grapes and extract the first juice as an offering to the Virgin of Valvanera. A festival that never disappoints!
Join in the fun in Rioja! Picture courtesy: The Unique Traveller
21 - 22 September - Harvest Festival in Eger
Eger is well known for Bull’s Blood red wine and the festival celebrates over two days the harvest in the village. Expect tasting competitions, folk shows, dancing, games and Jazz music!
26 - 29 September - Dubrovnik International Wine & Jazz Festival
This festival is sure to become the cultural destination for the finest wines, food and music the Adriatic has to offer. It will blend all the elements of a world-class arts festival: internationally acclaimed jazz, blues, pop and crossover classical musicians, award-winning Croatian wines, fine artists and craftsmen from the region and outstanding Dalmatian cuisine. You will get the chance to sample some of Croatia’s indigeneous grape varieties - Plavac Mali, Plavac Mali, Dingac, Rukatac, Postup and Pošip.
27 - 29 September - Sonoma Crush
An opportunity to see what’s going on behind the scenes and get involved hand-on in the harvest process, grape picking of Sonoma’s trademarks grapes such Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. As and as the name suggests, there will be grape crushing too, with wineries organising Crush Pad tours. You can even sample wines while it’s fermenting!
Picture courtesy: Heart of Sonoma Valley
29 September - Harvest Festival at Chateau de Saumur
If you are in the Loire Valley, come and celebrate the harvest at Chateau de Saumur. You will be invited to witness the pressing of the grapes, tasting the grape juice while enjoying the many entertaining events throughout the day. The festival will be filled with a medieval atmosphere, with the presence of historical figures, warriors, fire eaters, acrobats, hunters and many other activities for the whole family. Join in for free between 10am and 6pm.
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Written by: Tatiana Livesey, Winerist co-founder.