26 July 2019
Discover the festivals of the Saint-Emilion brotherhood of wine!
You may well have heard of the wines of Saint-Emilion, there are plenty of wines on your supermarket shelves and wine list pages that feature the name of this important Bordeaux appellation. The medieval town of Saint-Emilion itself is perched on a hilltop overlooking the rolling fields of vineyards that have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, indeed they were the first vineyards to receive this prestigious recognition back in 1999! The UNESCO status covers around 7,500 hectares of vines and the eight villages that fall within the Jurisdiction of Saint Emilion. It means that the character and traditions of this wine growing area will be protected and preserved for generations to come.
A historic brotherhood of winemakers
The reason Saint Emilion has been recognised by UNESCO and has achieved such recognition in the busy wine marketplace may be due, at least in part, to the ‘Jurade de Saint-Emilion’. A historic brotherhood of winemakers with roots dating back to 1199 when the King of England issued a royal charter exchanging economic, legal and political rights to the senior officials (jurats) of the town in exchange for a “Privilége des Vins de Saint-Emilion”; an agreement that meant English merchants got priority in purchasing the coveted local wines.
The French Revolution saw the demise of the Jurade, but in 1948 it was brought back into being when winegrowers of the region began working together under the historic title as brand ambassadors for the wines produced under the Saint-Emilion name. As well as working to maintain quality standards and spreading the word about the local wines, it’s the Jurade de Saint-Emilion who organise the two famous festivals in the region celebrating the Spring and Harvest of the vintners calendar.
Visit the popular Jurade festivals
The Jurade festivals are a real treat to behold and are extremely popular with locals as well as attracting wine enthusiasts from all over the world who come to witness the 140 Jurats processing the streets in their ceremonial crimson and white robes in a ceremony that dates back over 800 years.
The Spring Festival falls on the 3rd Sunday in June and, in keeping with the themes of celebration of new life for the new season of vines, it’s the time for new Jurats to be inducted into the organisation.
The Harvest Proclamation this year is planned for 21-22nd September and it’s the time for ceremonies where the optimal ripeness of grapes is decided and the ban on picking the grapes is lifted so the harvest can begin. This festival has a focus on striving for quality and celebrating the new vintage being harvested each year.
A unique piece of French winemaking history
If you are a wine connoisseur, or if you want to experience a unique piece of French winemaking history brought to life, why not plan a trip to see one of these wonderful festivals? It’s an unforgettable experience, not to mention a great chance to try the wonderful wines of Saint Emilion in the beautiful landscape where they were created.
Choose one of our holiday properties in the area and get 20% off your Brittany Ferries crossings – just don’t forget to leave some room in the car to bring home a case of your favourite wines!