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

    Ukraine has damaged its reputation beyond repair with hoax hit

    Andrei Afanasyev examines the damage wrought by the hoax assassination of a journalist in Ukraine. As details of the strange plot emerge, the country's reputation is now at stake.

    Geert Wilders calls for Robinson’s immediate release

    The HagueDutch PVV leader Geert Wilders, has called on the UK to "come to their senses" and release Tommy Robinson before he is murdered in prison.

    Jail sentence for satirical protest in South Africa?

    As freedom of speech in South Africa dies a slow death, protestors against the country's authoritarian government increasingly risk jail sentences for "showing disrespect".

    President Assad is well-liked in his country for the stability he brings

    DamascusMany anti-war activists, even those who are against bombing Syria, have described President Assad's rule as a "dictatorship" and his government as a "regime".

    Massive turn-out for anti-genocide protest in Perth, Australia

    Native Australians and immigrant South Africans joined hands in protesting the killing of farmers and white genocide in South Africa on Sunday 8 April. A special report of the day was compiled by Free West Media.

    Worse than the Cuban crisis, but the West’s population is kept in the dark

    An informative Swedish weekly has revealed the high drama - worse than the Cuban crisis - that enveloped the world in March while the West's population was being kept ignorant.

    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.

    Go to archive