Skip to Content

A vineyard in Burgundy, France
Burgundy, France

For fun and good food, Europeans pick grapes in France

Grape-pickers from all over Europe are flocking to some French wine farms to pick grapes the old-fashioned way, without machines. Although they are paid the minimum wage of about €10 per hour, they are rewarded with experience and gastronomic picknicking in beautiful surroundings.

Published: October 10, 2016, 9:30 am

    On a wine farm near Fuisse, in the Burgundy region, Europeans participate in the annual ritual of the “vendanges” or grape harvests, such as 69-year old René Kleingardner who does not mind the strenuous working day of eight hours. Kleingardner is a veteran of the vendanges who has been doing it for the past 25 years. Now in retirement, he previously worked as a policeman.

    The annual ritual of the vendanges has been the subject of books, graphic novels and even film documentaries, so participants get to share in what is a significant aspect of French rural culture. The relationship between the winemaker and his “workers” who, although paid, are almost volunteers, is one of good humour and friendship, instead of the seedy low-wage deals often characterising our globalist age where unskilled labour is concerned.

    Before there used to be migrant workers from the Third World, but now locals and other Europeans mostly do the work. Teams of grape-pickers are put together through families and friends. Handpicking is enjoying a revival due to the demand for organic wine.

    According to Frantz Chagnoleau, one of the winemakers, the machines are less expensive, but cannot ensure the same healthy, quality product. “Watch what comes out of the machines,” he says. It is a kind of soup of grapes, leaves and stalks, and the juice starts oxidising straight away. You get 10 times less ‘bourbe’ (leaves and stems) with handpicking.”

    Grape pickers come from as far afield as the former East Germany on “working holidays” where they get to enjoy the scenery, the wine, the food and the camaraderie of working in a team.

    Emmanuel Guillot, of Domaine Guillot-Broux, is one of France’s well-known organic winemakers who also uses handpickers whom he tries to treat well.

    “While they are here, we are a kind of family,” he says.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    In Focus

    Praised asylum activist came face to face with Muslim behavior – wants to stop Islam

    Rebecca Sommer was welcoming Muslim migrants to Germany, but says she can´t go anywhere now without being harassed by Arab men. In this exclusive interview, she wants to warn other women not to make the same mistake and shares her experiences. Today, she runs an organization against the Islamization of Europe. “We wanted to get to know them – and we did”.

    South Africa: Motion to confiscate white land without compensation passed

    PretoriaThe South African parliament voted this week to amend the Constitution to allow for the confiscation of land owned by the white minority without compensation.

    South Africa: 143 mental patients dead in communist-style atrocity

    The Life Esidimeni scandal has demonstrated to what extent South Africa is emulating 20th-century communist societies, with 143 patients "dying of torture" in mental hospitals run by unlicensed NGOs, and another 55 simply "disappearing".

    Didzis Melbiksis.

    The UNHCR Northern Europe representative – radical Latvian anarchist

    Associate Communication Officer at United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Regional Representation for Northern Europe, Didzis Melbiksis. His position might seem as a serious official one for those who don’t know him. But that is not the case in Latvia, where he has a scandalous reputation.

    A Crimean coup in the European Parliament

    A conference against EU-imposed sanctions on Russia was held inside the EU Parliament in Brussels on January 23rd. Parliamentarians from different political camps joined forces in a pursuit of a de-escalation of the tensions between Russia and the EU and to promote international cooperation. What came as a surprise to many was that a delegation from Crimea also arrived to participate in the debate.

    South African president-in-waiting wants to ‘confiscate white farms without compensation’

    PretoriaThe newly elected leader of South Africa's ruling ANC (African National Congress), Cyril Ramaphosa, has come out strongly in favour of a Zimbabwe-style land grab in the country, promising to confiscate white-owned farms without compensation.

    The rise of ‘new realism’ in the Low Countries

    The Netherlands together with the Flemish speaking part of Belgium are a good case study in many of the problems of modern European nations – the struggle to protect one's own identity and way of life in the face of the EU super state's ambitions and mass immigration. There are however considerable differences between the two regions too. Free West Media visited both countries.

    Head of State removed in Lugansk – his team accused of collaboration with Ukraine

    The Head of State of self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) Igor Plotnitsky (pictured) has been forced to resign. His duties have been taken over by Head of the State Security Bureau Leonid Pasechnik. On November 21, armored vehicles rolled into Lugansk at the order of the Ministry of Interior and secured key buildings, assisted by a contingent sent by the neighboring Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). They proceeded in arresting associates of the Head of State Igor Plotnitsky, accusing them of being agents sent by Kiev. Free West Media's reporter was on site.

    Afrikaners come together on #BlackMonday to protest ongoing farm murders

    While white South Africans united in a previously unheard-of protest action against the senseless violence whereby the country’s white farmers are targeted and slaughtered, the latest news is that Mr Sarel Erxleben from Deneysville, in the Free State province, was shot and killed in his house by black attackers.

    French philosopher says France is in a ‘civil war’ with Islam

    A respected French philosopher, Damien Le Guay, believes that by refusing to acknowledge we are in a state of civil war with radical Islam, we are in fact only aggravating the situation.

    Go to archive