The French wine harvest began 15 days early yesterday in the southern region of Provence.

Although the harvest officially began in the Roussillon appellation of Rivesaltes, the producers in Bandol, Provence, were the first to bring in their grapes so early.

‘So far, it’s only a few domaines,’ said a spokesperson at the Bandol wine trade body. ‘But yes, the harvest has started.’

The region normally begins harvesting towards the end of August.

In Rivesaltes, which produces red, white, rosé and Vin doux Naturel sweet wines, the harvest began only slightly early on 2 August.

‘In Rivesaltes, the harvest normally begins in the first two weeks of August,’ Eric Aracil at the Roussillon wines trade body told decanter.com. ‘So it’s looking normal – we’d compare the vintage to 2005.’

Currently, only white varieties are being harvested in the region, including Muscat a petits grains, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Although much of France has been deluged by heavy rains, Racil said the south had been relatively free of rain and that Rivesaltes had experienced a slight drought, with only 10mm of rain in the last month.

Other areas of France, including Bordeaux and Burgundy are also expecting an early harvest due to precocious flowering in a hot Spring. The weather in summer, however, has not been kind with hail, rain, mildew and rot problems reported in many regions, including Bordeaux.

According to French weather service Meteo France, more rain is predicted over the weekend and into next week, with thunderstorms predicted throughout the south west of the country on Sunday evening.