Bordeaux growers in urgent need of pickers

Bordeaux growers in urgent need of pickers News Wine News
  • Tuesday 4 September 2001

Bordeaux's châteaux are facing a desperate shortage of grape pickers in the run-up to this year's harvest.

The classed growths of the Médoc, Blaye, Libourne and Entre-deux-Mers regions, which harvest by hand, will need some 33,000 casual workers to bring in the harvest, which is due to begin later this month. In the Médoc alone, 3,500 pickers are required, but so far, according to the local recruitment office, only 300 have signed up.

Traditionally, many of the well-known properties have recruited their pickers from the ranks of Spanish and Portuguese workers, who came north each year for the harvest. However, many châteaux no longer provide bed and board and pay rates have dropped, so the pickers are staying at home. Another traditional source of workers, students, are off-limits as they will already be back at university when picking begins.

The harvest this year is set to take place later than it did for the 2000 vintage. Although temperatures during the first months of the year were above the seasonal average by 2-3°C, sunshine was lacking. Although the weather picked up June, July had twice the average rainfall and by the end of the month, the grapes were still green due to lack of sunshine.

Entre-deux-Mers suffered limited damage from hail but, throughout the region, the greater part of August – the vital period for ripening – was hot and dry and the vintage was able to catch up.

The red harvest is scheduled to take place between 20-24 September. While the white harvest takes place earlier, around 10 September, this is still a week later than last year. On the whole, the grapes are generally healthy and should be of good quality – provided the weather holds.

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