When the wine harvest draws to a close, vendange celebrations ripple through France. All the grapes have been picked, pressed and fermented and age old traditions see the French countryside come alive.
Every autumn, the vineyards of France become a hive of activity as les vendanges takes place.
The Romans planted the majority of vineyards in the 6th Century BCE, when France was a Gallic region. Today, the main wine-producing regions include Bordeaux, Alsace, Loire, Provence and the Rhone Valley. Each region produces wine which reflects its climate and soil as well as the unique character of the region.
Wine tradition developed alongside the church because the Romans supported Christianity and Catholicism. Wine was used in the sacrament, so monasteries played a big role in viniculture. The drink was soon very fashionable and a natural compliment to rich French food, so noble houses filled their cellars with wine.
In1863, a disease called Phylloxera aphid decimated French vineyards and the wine industry suffered a major blow. Innovation solved the problem and France is renowned today for its premium wine standards.
Wine is deeply entrenched in French culture and the harvest is a huge occasion. Whilst the machine is prominent in modern wine production, many vineyards still complete the process using traditional methods. Thousands work or volunteer on the harvest each year and the labour is intense.
Next week, the Fête des Vendanges in Monmartre will mark the end of the harvest at Paris's only remaining vineyard, Clos Monmartre.
Similar grape harvest festivals take place in most towns throughout the country. For generations, the French people have celebrated the end of the harvest with parades, concerts, fancy dress and other festivities.
The vendange begins in August and can last until the end of October, it all depends on the ripeness of the grapes. This exhausting experience calls for relaxation and fun when all the collection vessels have been put down. Families and communities congregate to eat, toast to their success and of course drink lots of wine. After a few months of intense manual work, the vendange is time to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Al fresco dining and many mouths to feed require trestle tables and comfortable chairs. Furniture associated with the vendange is the epitome of French country craftsmanship. French provincial furniture is charming and interior design increasingly celebrates simple yet effective pieces.
Circular vendange tables make charming dining and centre tables. These pieces often have a tilt-top and trestle supports because they are stored in cellars and brought out for wine tasting. Vendange tables can be moved around easily and the versatile furniture is perfect for modern living.
There are plenty of antique pieces which capture the magic and history of the vendange. Practical objects that represent each stage of the wine harvest process make for wonderful decorative pieces.
Collecting vessels, such as grape hods and wicker baskets, present an opportunity for you to repurpose them into something beautiful. Antique orchard ladders are also stunning statement pieces which exude rustic charm.
If you're more interested in the wine itself, we don't blame you. Our collection is full of stunning antique wine pieces to give your evening drink that sense of occasion. From statement pieces, such as large bottle racks, to the most delicate wine pourers, wine-related antiques are rare and beautiful pieces to own. You will find ice buckets, cellarettes, glass decanters and beautiful sets of French wine glasses here at Lorfords.
So if you want to enjoy the vendange this year, bring the festivities to you. Surround yourself with antique wine pieces and vendange furniture and you will soon be dreaming of French vineyards.
French antiques have a huge presence at our showroom in Tetbury as well as our two hangars at Babdown airfield. Come and visit us in person or browse our website to get the Lorfords experience.
Visit our lookbook 'Evenings at the vineyard' and discover a range of antiques to mark the end of the wine harvest.