French vineyards can now offer 'vendange vacations'

Law change means winegrowers can offer grape-picking holidays, under certain conditions

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France's winegrowers can now offer tourists the chance to help bring in the harvest without the risk of flirting with the country's strict employment laws.

"From now on, winegrowers are free" under certain conditions "to offer harvests to tourists without fear, as in the past, of sanctions from the authorities," the Conseil supérieur de l'oenotourisme said in a statement.

The announcement came after the government amended the regulatory framework to allow tourists to harvest on a parcel of a vineyard or wine-growing estate, without this activity being considered work by an employee.

This harvest must be part of a "commercial tourist offer for which the tourist has paid," that focuses on "the discovery of the vineyards and wine production".

The tourist harvest must be 'punctual and limited in time', carried out by a non-professional, on a 'small and limited area of the vineyard', in the absence of any legal subordination to the winegrower/vintner, and must not have 'any aim of yield or productivity'.

This clarification of the legal framework will "free the energies of the wine and tourism stakeholders" said Hervé Novelli, President of the Conseil supérieur de l'oenotourisme and former Minister of Tourism.

Some 10,000 wineries in France welcome 10 million "wine tourists" every year, including 4.2 million foreigners. This market represents €5.2billion in revenue per year, with the most popular vineyards being Bordeaux, Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy and the Loire Valley.

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