Wine growing

 

Table grapes

Vineyards around the lake Salagou

Clermont l’Hérault was for a long time called the “capital” of table grapes because of the tonnage going through the town, which was the biggest in France.

In 1955, on a national total of 360 000, the Clermontais region supplied 50 000 tons. Production covered almost 15 000 acres. Two particular varieties, the Chasselas and the Servent, made up 75% of the whole amount sold.

Apart from the quality of their much-prized savour, the harvest corresponded to two particularly distinct periods that were in harmony with that of the other fruits: the Chasselas at the beginning of summer and the Servent at the end of September.

Right from 1930, at the instigation of Messieurs Bouschet De Bernard et Feriau, an initial grape market was created in Clermont l’Hérault. Added to which, agreements were made with the Chemins de Fer du Midi (today known as the SNCF) to guarantee delivery to 30 French towns, so as to be able to make them available on the markets from dawn.

The company’s success, which was materialized by a daily departure of two trains, was confirmed with regular trains leaving for Belgium and Germany. The activity gave work to numerous people; men in the vineyards and women and children who painstakingly sorted and dispatched the grapes.

To cope with the demand, numerous Spanish workers were employed as additional help every summer. The villages around Clermont l’Hérault also took part in this great economic activity that made a living for the whole region.

Many people of private means and traders thus installed themselves near the railway station in Clermont l’Hérault which became a real beehive of activity. Beautiful town houses were built in that part of town.

From the 70s on, there was a drop in production because of foreign competition that grew and sold better grapes at cheaper rates, the French varieties were too seasonal and local labour was lacking.

Nowadays, picking table grapes has become a private occupation but a handful of wine growers have revived the activity and notably because of the summer grape market at Clermont l’Hérault.

Wine

After the phylloxera crisis at the end of the 19th century and the rebellion of the wine makers in 1907, the vineyard was profoundly transformed and the wine growers joined together. The result was that numerous wine cooperatives were created from 1920 on. The particularity of the wine cellars was that, for the most part, they were designed by the same architect who built a real “vessel” which today testifies to the great wine-making era. These cooperatives, often immense compared to the village to which they belonged, open their doors to you so that you can discover the different Clermontais grape varieties.

To buy red, white and rosé wines, A.O.C., vin de pays (local wine), you will find all you’re looking for in the wine cooperatives and private wine cellars.

Some examples

  • White wine : Clairette from Paulhan and white from Cabrières
  • Rosé wine : rosé from Fontès, Saint Hippolyte de Fontès
  • Red wine : AOCs from Saint Félix de Lodez, Cabrières or Clermont l’Hérault

Pictures

The wine cooperative at Octon - JPEG - 87.9 kb
The wine cooperative at Octon

Crédit OT du Clermontais

A container full of raisins - JPEG - 152.2 kb
A container full of raisins

Crédit Fusioline

Wine harvest in the Clermontais - JPEG - 133.8 kb
Wine harvest in the Clermontais

Crédit Fusioline

Vineyards and olive trees in autumn - JPEG - 195.9 kb
Vineyards and olive trees in autumn

Crédit Fusioline

 
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