Paris — Grape-pickers in the vineyards of France's wine country have been braving searing heat to get the harvest in. Due to a succession of heat waves this summer, the harvest has been brought forward. The producers of Bordeaux's white wines started getting the grapes in in mid-August, a record two weeks ahead of the usual start date.
Bordeaux's producers say the grapes are small this year because of the— but the heat also means the grapes are sweeter and will produce higher alcohol contents.
The harvest was also brought forward in Burgundy, but just before it began there were several days of rain, which helped to increase the yield and ensure both quality and quantity.
Producers in the Champagne region have been watching the weather with trepidation. Last year's crop was very poor, and they've been hoping to make up for it.
Along with much of France, they worried as the spring brought weeks of heavy rain. But that helped to protect the vines during this summer's blistering heat. Now, with last-minute rain again just before the harvest, producers have been confident that they'll easily meet and even surpass their goals, predicting this year's yield will be the highest in 15 years.
The early harvests have meant producers have had to cast the net wide for grape-pickers. Traditionally, it's a job for seasonal workers, most of whom are coming from another job and cannot just drop everything two weeks early.
The state employment agency, Pole Emploi, is not often busy in late summer, but this year it has been actively alerting jobseekers to the opportunities at vineyards around the country.
Some wine producers' groups have even appealed to local students and retired people to come work in the vineyards, as the race is now on to get the grapes in.
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