Where do all the harvest workers come from? This is a question we are often asked on our wine tours. Even though harvesting machines are being used more and more, still perhaps 40% of all grapes are still harvested by hand (the exact number is hard to know). And in Champagne it’s 100%. It is compulsory. So many hands are needed.
In Champagne alone, 110,000 harvest workers are employed for a period of two to three weeks. This year, for the first time, the number of foreign harvest workers was higher than the number of French workers in Champagne.
Producers are complaining about the increasingly heavy paperwork that is required of them for short-term employment of harvest workers. However, if they ignore the red tape for the foreign workers is not clear. In fact, it is hardly likely since fines can be harsh. It is rather due to the difficulty of finding local willing workers.
It is true however that it is becoming more and more common for the producers to hire their harvest workers through staffing / temp agencies. A little more expensive probably, but less bureaucratic hassle. Read more: vitisphere.com
Read more on harvesting: Hand harvest is not necessarily better than machine harvest.
(If you want to know more on this region – and know a bit of Swedish – you can read our book on the wines of Champagne.)
This post is also available in: Swedish