The “ban des vendanges” in France

At the arrival of summer, the Ban Des Vendanges is the administrative permission to begin the grape harvest in France. The precise term of the Ben Das Vendages is lifting the harvest ban or allowing people to begin picking grapes for the production of new vines. During the Ben Das Vendages, the wine producers dress in the traditional dress, assemble at the village square, and declare that grapes were ripened and the harvest should begin now.

The history of Ban Des Vendages goes back to the Middle Ages when a lord, whether noble or ecclesiastical, would make laws and public proclamations, including the power of ban or permission of harvest within the extent of his dominion. Different regions would follow different procedures to make the laws; the date of the harvest in Rome, for example, was determined by public debate in support of the general interest rather than the free will of the winegrower. The Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties in France enforced a Germanic feudal prerogative called ban, or Ban Des Vendages. By following the Ban Des Vendages, a tenant in France could not harvest his grapes without the lord’s permission, which was granted after a thorough inspection of the vines by the vine experts. As a result, it was required to begin harvesting after getting the lord’s cries, leave, and license.

The Ban Des Vendanges, as it was afterward known, was a symbol of a feudal institution that survived feudalism. Apart from the practice of collecting royalties from the lords in their dominions, the ban also served a higher purpose of quality control. The expert’s honesty was important for the ban’s effectiveness because they dispatched to the vineyards to select the date of the ban lifting. They had the important task of ensuring that the grapes were perfectly mature at the time of the ban opening.

THE BAN DES VENDANGES, The “ban des vendanges” in France

In 1794, the Constituent Assembly of the French Revolution issued a law removing the full ban. It was guaranteed there that each owner would be free to harvest his grapes whatever he wanted and whenever he wanted, as long as he did not cause any damage to neighboring vineyards. However, in countries where the prohibition of Ban Des Vendanges was in effect, the community council may make an annual settlement.

In France, “All unclosed vines” were subjected to the local council’s regulating power. Although it was repealed in 1885, the vast majority of wine-growing community municipal governments maintained to decide the date for the start of the harvest. It was also stated that the regulations announcing the harvest ban must be published and must explicitly specify the day before which gleaning from the vines is prohibited. It must also keep in mind that scavengers are not permitted to enter before sunrise or after sunset.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the ease of transport allowed for wine origin fraud. The statute of August 1, 1905, established the first protection for origin designation to combat these frauds. However, the harvest prohibition was reinstated by legislation passed in 1940 and again on October 21, 1946 [1].

This Day in Wine History

1790s: The French Revolution created a new political system which was based on equality, freedom and equality. This led to the “ban des vignes” which was declared by Napoleon Bonaparte.

1794: The ban des vignes was established by Napoleon Bonaparte when he was crowned as emperor of France. He also issued a law which stated that all wine must be produced using only grapes grown on French soil.

1868: During the 3rd Republic, the ban des vignes was abolished due to political reasons but it was reintroduced again after World War I (1914-1918).


[1] Gardner, Kelly. 2021. “La Vendange 2021: France’s Grape Harvest.” Sommailier.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!