Grape Harvest Festival
21st Fête des Vendanges (Grape Harvest Festival) : from october 5th to 9th 2016
Program coming soon
Banyuls's Grape Harvest Festival
The first Grape Harvest Festival of Banyuls was held on the third weekend of October 1996. Consequently, this year we are celebrating the 20th edition.
Initially there were several protagonists ... enthusiasts who wanted to revive the former harvest practices.
The couple Monique and Bernard Saperas, Monique of Banyuls origin and teacher with a license in "Sciences et Vie de la Terre" (science and earth life) and Bernard, oenologist from the Ariège department (midi-Pyrenees) moved to Banyuls and took over the family domain "Vial-Magnères" where Bernard would be the first to produce white Banyuls. Monique having at heart the transmission of knowledge to the youngest, wished for all the children in her school to learn about the work of the vineyard and the winegrowers. She grows the idea of a "children's vine" (see next page).
Meanwhile, Cathy Rousseil-Mucciolo an elected municipal officer, teeming with ideas, presents to members of the extra-municipal commission "Viticulture" the project of creating a festival around wine with the focus on authenticity, popularity and conviviality. A proper winegrowers' festival. She thinks about a wine tasting event in the village followed by the typical "colles" meal, which traditionally gathers the grape pickers to celebrate the end of the grape harvest. This would not happen as usual in the vineyards or in the cellars but on the beach to gather around the tables and involve into the winegrowing traditions the general public.
This powerful symbol of local identity would also be the occasion to commemorate another ancestral Banyuls specificity: transporting the harvest by boat from the steep slopes, feet in the water, onto the village.
The enthusiastic proposal of the municipal officer won the support of the city council gathered around the Mayor Pierre Becque, and so the festival was born.
Since the creation of the Festival, its foundations were reinforced.
In 1998 the association "Banyuls Fête des Vendanges" (under the French law 1901) was created and chaired by Bernard Saperas to continue the initial project (the organisation, promotion and animation of the annual festival of the "Cru de Banyuls" and all other events thereto).
In 2009 the festival was labeled "Banyuls Fête des Vendanges" (Banyuls Harvest Festival) and the mark deposited at the "Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle" (National Institute of Industrial Property).
Over the years, with the support of the Winegrowers Trade Unions as well as financial and logistical support of the successive municipalities of Banyuls, the festival has evolved and has become both a great showcase for the village and a highlight to the life of the inhabitants of Banyuls.
Today 17 village associations are assisting in its organisation.
About fifty volunteers work throughout the year to welcome 7000 visitors and to let them share together with the winegrowers and the whole village this great moment of celebration and conviviality.
The Children's vine
The idea to Transmit values, heritage and the handling of vines to children was born in 1996 by the enthusiasm, generosity and dedication of Monique Saperas. The "Children's Vine" as well celebrates its 20th harvest. At the time, the teacher had the idea to introduce children to work in the vineyard, with the active participation of retired winegrowers. The mayor of Banyuls bequeathed 20 acres of vineyard to the primary school, and hired three "Papis vignerons" (granddad winegrowers), consecutively followed by others.
Ever since, several hours a month, children from the CM1 and CM2 classes and the "granddad winegrowers" grow together the so called "Children's Vine" and thus share throughout the year the different steps from the grapes to the bottle: the cutting and maintenance of the vines, rehabilitation of the low walls, harvesting, bottling and label design, but also discovering vegetation and aromas.
The grapes harvested by children and the wine making procedure are taken care of by a wine cooperative. Thanks to an agreement between the association "Banyuls Fête des Vendanges" and the CCAS (Caisse Centrale Activités Sociales or literally translated Central Cash for Social Activities), the retribution on the value of the harvest is entirely donated to the school cooperative. Every year on the Saturday of the "Banyuls Fête des Vendanges", a ceremony leads the school children with some tubs of grapes on the back of a donkey and with the granddads and teachers to a traditional pressing.
Considered a real trans-generational project, this school project "The Children's vine" is pursued by the granddad winegrowers and the association "Banyuls Fête des Vendanges" in close collaboration with the teachers of the primary school.