This large open cellar event in May covers many regions in the South of France and draws an audience of over 40,000 people from all over the world! Winemakers, villagers & visitors alike flock to nearby vineyards in and around Provence including the Côte D`Azur and Rhone Valley areas, to join in the festivities and celebrate the tradition & art of winemaking.
This is a day out for everyone – for food and wine lovers, for families, for professionals and even those on vacation who wish to be part of the fun and have a special glimpse into the world of grape harvesting and the universe of oenology…or those who simply come just to drink the wine!
Provence is one of France’s largest and oldest wine producing regions and may be best known for it’s rosé wines of which the most famous are Côtes de Provence and Côteaux d'Aix. Provence vineyards also produce some fabulous red wines, including very rich red wines from the Var and "grey wine" from the Camargue. The area’s most famous White wine is “Bandol” which has been celebrated since the middle ages.
The “feast of the Vine and Wine’ or “fete de la vigne et du vin” was established in 1995 in order to try and prevent the Provençal wine craft from dwindling popularity and showcase to the world the beauty of this trade. It occurs annually on the weekend of Ascension – this year it will be May 19th 2012 – and every year the number of wine makers and visitors participating grows significantly making this a much anticipated event on French calendars. With September’s harvesting looming on the horizon, May sees the vineyards prepped and spruced up in readiness – the perfect time to visit and celebrate what is and what is to come!
Local wine making domains, cellars or caves hold many different events, some ticketed others on a first-come-first-served basis and others are free to walk in at leisure. Events vary from guided vineyards tours, to demonstrations on winemaking, talks on the different grape varieties and everyone’s favourite – the tasting! Many cellars offer their guests the chance to sample some of their produce and purchase bottles at heavily discounted prices – or 5th bottle free, this is definitely a festival to come to on foot or bike and avoid driving!
In true festival style, the celebrations are not merely just about the wine and wine making but about people coming together – bands are invited to play, local arts & crafts are displayed & sold and of course where there is wine, there is usually food to accompany! Many wineries will either invite you to join them for a buffet feast around a large table, or offer food stalls & little tasters so you can line your stomach prior to sampling some of the delectable vintages!
This festival is the perfect way to sample not only the fine produce the Provençal region has to offer but to glimpse a different way of life for many and an art form which will inspire!