Harvest Traditions: Rest of Europe

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Harvest traditions are most likely to survive where vineyards are picked by approximately the same people each year, which is why few survive in Italy and Germany, where grapes are increasingly picked by immigrants with no tradition of grape-picking in their families. As mechanization invades a wine region, so harvest traditions retreat, presumably until revived as a public relations exercise. This means that harvest traditions are more likely to survive where labour costs are relatively low.

A prime example of this has been the douro Valley, where port is made, although even here rural labour shortages are having an effect. Even in the early 21st century, however, it was still just possible to associate a genuine sense of folk tradition and celebration with the harvest, as some local pickers invade the quintas at which they and their families have traditionally worked every autumn for decades. The increasingly depopulated trás-os-montes region has supplied many of the teams, or rogas, of pickers who brought noise, chatter, and traffic to a region marked by its silence the rest of the year.