Wine and champagne are a part of one of the biggest industries in France, and as they are alcoholic drinks they are a naturally social product, and the industry has a great number of festivals and events during the year. There are several important periods of the year that can be found in the wine and champagne producing industry, and from the grape harvest to the release of different batches of wine, each one can be marked with a special event.
If you are planning on taking a trip to France to explore this lovely European country, then combining this with one of these festival dates will allow you to join with local and international visitors to celebrate this charming part of French culture.
Early May – Alsace Wine Fair
This event began as an industry-only event which allowed the wine producers the chance to introduce their four-year-old vintages to restauranteurs and professionals, but this has now become one of the early events in the season for the wine buffs too. There are hundreds of different Alsace wines that are presented during this event, and while these are presentations to be enjoyed on the main stage, there is also a market of local produce such as meat, bread, and cheeses that will pair well with the latest range of wine.
First Weekend In July – Fetes Henri IV, Ay-Champagne
This is a biannual festival that is held every two years on the even-numbered years, and one of the great features for wine and particularly champagne lovers is that the many champagne houses of the town open their doors and offer free samples as a part of this wonderful festival.
The Saturday night culminates with a great fireworks display, while the Sunday sees a carnival and parade in the town.
Late September – Grape Harvest Festival, Barr
Located in the heart of the Alsace wine growing region, this festival in Barr is one of the biggest annual events in the town and has a range of activities that celebrate the harvest of the grapes that will go on to make the region's wine.
The event culminates on Sunday afternoon with a grand parade, but there is also the beauty pageant where the Queen of the Harvest Festival is selected, along with a selection of wine tasting events where new vintages and Grand Cru wines are introduced.
Mid-November – Grands Vins De Bourgogne Festival, Beaune
This festival is one that celebrates the great wines produced in the Burgundy region, and between a Saturday and Monday, there is a series of meals and events, with the Saturday afternoon starting off the festival with a half marathon race through the vineyards of the area. There is a grand auction of wine on the Sunday morning with some of the area's best produce on offer, with a proportion of the profits going to help the poor of the area, before the festival finishes on the Monday with a grand feast where many of the wines are sampled along with a great selection of local food.
Third Thursday in November - Beaujolais Nouveau Day
On this day in November, the first young wines from the Beaujolais region of the country are released, and while historically these would have been sent to Paris, it is also worth visiting the Beaujolais region to enjoy the party there too. The wine that is released will only have been fermented for a short time, which makes for a fresh and fruity drink with lots of fruit overtones.
Early December – Le Grand Tasting, Paris
The Grand Tasting in Paris is one of the biggest wine events in the world, and with the work of harvesting and preparing wines to be laid down for the years to come having been completed, winemakers, buyers, and industry experts come together. The event includes tastings of a variety of different wines, tasting masterclasses from some of the premier tasters in the country, along with a range of cooking events from some of France's top chefs.