The “Ban des Vendanges” is a French expression which used to designate the proclamation which warned the winegrowers of the opening of the harvest. Not only did it warn them, but it even forced them not to harvest until then. This constraint was aimed at obtaining quality wines, by requiring winegrowers who are in too much of a hurry not to pick before maturity. To proclaim the harvest open, we relied empirically on the appearance and tasting of the grapes (the means of controlling quality and ripening did not exist at that time), but we also complied with local customs: thus , in Burgundy, it was considered that the harvest could begin one hundred days after the flowering of the lilies.
Nowadays, it is always moving to hear the president of the Jurade of Saint Emilion launch from the top of the King’s Tower the formula of yesteryears: « Peuple de Saint-Emilion et des septs communes, la Jurade proclame le ban des vendanges. Ouvrez lourdes les portes des cuviers, commencez la cueillette ». Which can be translated as “People of Saint-Emilion and the seven communes, the Jurade proclaims the ban of the harvest. “Open the heavy doors of the vats and start picking.”