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Monday, 01 September 2014

Bumming Through the Wine Fields of Bordeaux - Page 4

Written by Joanna Gonzalez
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Neighboring Vineyards

I met all sorts of “vendangeurs*,” mixed ages and sexes, my grandfather, your cousin, your neighbor, my teacher, professionals, artists, travelers, gypsies…etc.

Other elite vineyards offered outstanding bonuses, like designated and secured camping grounds, room and board, lunch-ins, bottles of wine to take home, free transportation, good-bye parties, and even higher pay.

I earned 8 Euros an hour for my “vendange” (almost 11 USD), these other vineyards were paying 11 Euros/hr (15 USD).

Rothschild’s vineyards (part of visiumu pristine) and other areas of Bordeaux, like St. Emilion, are two esteemed wineries that offer the best benefits for working on their vineyards.

I found impressive grounds all along the area; a whole type of peoplin’, trailerin’, travelin’, transin’ and well, who knows…

What I do know is that certain people dedicate their lives to this, faithfully attending each yearly harvest (while of course managing their normal “jobs” on the side as well).

We lasted two weeks, but the norm is to stay the entire 2-3 months, either way, people come and goes as they please. 

But over all of it, what astonished me the most while out there breaking my back was that there were other American tourists a few vines behind me paying up to 100 dollars to cut a few measly grapes to attain le “experience”; but I tell you they have no idea of the real, behind the scenes process until they try THIS.


Vendangers*are people who work on vineyards, there is no exact translation in English since this word is ONLY for people who “pick” grapes for WINE. “Picker” would be the literal translation, but in English you can technically “pick” any fruit.

Médoc* is a certain terrain area within the region Aquitaine (Bordeaux is located here) where specific grapes called “Médoc” are grown. Starting from this name (Médoc), the other names written along-side it on a bottle of wine become even more intricate depending on the name of the estate or owner of the vineyard/Château. Within the Médoc area there are many, many other vineyards.

Paulliac* is another terrain area located on the shore (Atlantic) where many ritzier vineyards can be found. Some bottles of wine will also contain this name and the name of the owner of a Château (one of Rothschild’s estates is located in this area [Château Lafite]).

Interested? Want to become a Vendanger?

Some French Areas to Consider:

Loire Valley, Côtes du Rhone, Cognac, Champagne, and Dijon are just a few cities within France that are always in demand for pickers of grapes, mustard seeds, apples, kiwis, peaches, and just about any French farm product within the country year round. You will find these cities by first looking up the regions they pertain to, such as Burgundy, Brittany, PACA (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), Aquitaine, etc.


A good site I used before finding my way to Bordeaux was: (all listings are in French, but self-evident).


** If you’d like to support my vendange/vineyard experience, look for a bottle of:

 Taillian Médoc’s 2015 Sauvignon Blanc - La Dame Blanche 

It usually takes two years since the grapes are first picked; we picked in 2013.**



The same exacts month of WINE season (September-November) also happens to be the same as SURF season, so if you tend to be one of those, or would like to try it out, the southern west coast of France is a hidden gem for many surfers and tourists alike, check out this blog about: “Surfing Southern France”.


© Joanna Gonzalez

(Page 4 of 4)
Last modified on Saturday, 25 October 2014

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