The grape harvest (vendange) starts in September in some parts of Provence, and October in other parts. At many vineyards in these regions, vendange is done at night or in the wee hours of the morning. The 30-32°C days common at the end of summer raise the temperature of the grapes to over 35°C on the vines; too big a shock for the crushed grapes to go into vats in 14°C cellars.
At the larger vineyards, and partly also with our less-relaxed modern times, vendange tends to be more serious and efficient than at the small rural farms (see Vendange Story). Seasonal workers are lodged in temporary housing, and arrive with bag lunches. The mid-day feast is replaced with a (relatively) short lunch break.
How Can You Participate?
One possibility is to browse through the job ads at ANPE (Agence Nationale Pour l'Emploi, the French job center) which does publish some ads in the summer for harvesting:
Select a region, like Aquitaine for the Bordeaux area, followed by a click on "Consulter les offres de l'Aquitaine" to go through the ads marked as "Saisonnier", since those are temporary jobs.
Contributed by Beyond reader Ralph