« Vendanges »
This refers to the harvesting of grapes intended for wine production. The word is Latin in origin and made up of the words vinum (« vin ») and demere (« retirer »). The same Latin origin gave the name « vendémiaire » to the first month of the Republican calendar (1792 – 1806). It corresponded to the period 22nd September to 21st October. Another peculiarity of this word is that it is generally expressed in the plural.
« Les vendanges » is only used when referring to grapes intended for producing wine. For table grapes, one talks of picking (« cueillette ») as for other fruits.
For us in Provence, a land of wine since Greek times, the wine harvest starts in our vineyards on the 24th August. Traditionally, it is an event with several facets. It is a time of hard work vital to wine-growers. It is also a time of exceptional work for grape pickers, amongst them numerous students and other seasonal workers. The effort for it is intense but complemented by much good cheer and sharing. Finally, it is the occasion for a great number of festivals in towns and villages.