Heroic Beaujolais vines!


Have you ever noticed the vines tumbling down the Beaujolais hillsides? These exceptional landscapes not only give the region its own unique charm but have also led to this very Beaujolais idea of “heroic wine growing.” Why “heroic”? Because you need to be pretty brave to work on these slopes. As the winegrowers themselves say, it’s hard work but it’s fascinating.  Once you’ve read this article, you’ll never again see Beaujolais vines in the same light.

Who ever thought of growing wines on slopes?

Beaujolais landscapes are instantly recognizable by their vines planted in perfect rows across the contour lines of hills. You’re probably wondering how winegrowers here got the idea of growing vines on hillsides. Well it’s quite simply because the lie of the land affects the growth of grapes in more than one way!

Firstly, the upper ground has more sunlight than the plain down below. The sun’s rays have fewer obstacles to overcome and can reach the vines directly. And vines love the sun! The warmth creates a good balance between the sweetness and acidity in grapes, which produces wines that are gentle but also very tasty.

But that’s not the only reason why winegrowers brave the sometimes very steep gradients in the Beaujolais region. Water streaming down the slopes is also very advantageous for the grapes. The water doesn’t have time to soak into the ground, it simply runs off down to the bottom of the slope. So the fruit gets just the right amount of water.

This is ideal, because too much water damages the vines. It increases the risk of disease, makes pest control treatment less efficient and prevents the grapes from fully soaking up the flavors of the terroir. The heroism of the vine stock therefore protects them and ensures optimal growth.


Meticulous work so that the heroic vines can give of their best

Winegrowers in the Beaujolais region are brave, daring and tenacious.  All work in the vines from September to August has to be done manually, as the winegrowers work gradually across one plot of land to another. Except during the harvest, the winegrower does all this work on their own: pruning, disbudding, tying, weeding, hoeing... He creates the best conditions for the grapes to flourish on these difficult slopes. The winegrowers themselves are also heroic!


The “heroic wine growing” label

In recognition of the efforts of these winegrowers, the Cervim (Centre for the study, research and promotion of wine growing in mountainous areas) wanted to create a collective brand for its members. The label “heroic wine growing” can now be put on bottles of wine produced in areas where mechanization is impossible because the growing area is steep.

This approach is intended to raise consumers’ awareness of the conditions under which a particular wine is produced and applaud the efforts of winegrowers who work in difficult environments. A request for legal recognition will soon be submitted to the European authorities.


Now that you know more about the conditions under which Beaujolais wines are grown, you’ll surely spare a thought for these extreme winegrowers next time you raise a glass of Beaujolais wine!


To learn more about mountain and steep slope viticulture, go to CERVIM website.

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