Top 5 Facts about the Vineyard of Montmartre in Paris
There are many surprising vicinities that call the Montmartre hill in the 18th arrondissement home. Vicinities that one generally wouldn’t expect to find on ground with a steep incline.
The Montmartre Cemetery is one of them; a full sized necropolis with over 300,000 residents. There is also the very well known church of Sacre Coeur right at the top of the mound; an impressive structure that took years of intense upward hauling in order to complete.
As you make your way up through the winding streets you’ll eventually pass by both of these attractions, as well as another; the Vineyard of Montmartre is settles halfway up (or down) the hill, just behind the famous La Maison Rose, the bright pink cafe that Picasso used to frequent.
The very private nature of this vineyard makes it an unknown attraction to many visitors to Montmartre. Here are five facts that will make tremendous talking points when you do happen to pass by this lot.
1. The Vineyard of Montmartre Was Created by the City of Paris in 1933
The Vineyard of Montmartre remains under ownership of the City of Paris. It was created by the city as an attempt to section off large parts of Montmartre that could not be purchased by real estate developers. Similar attempts were made through the creation of large children’s playgrounds and garbage dumps.
This new addition of green space to the city of Montmartre was an exciting thing for the people of the neighborhood. It took a few years for the newly planted vines to start producing grapes, but the vineyard was celebrated each year in an annual festival in spite of the lack of product.
The vineyard takes up a total of 0.15 hectares of space, which is small considering the usual sized of wine farms in France.
2. The Vineyard of Montmartre is not Open to the Public
Unfortunately the vineyard itself is not a place that is open to the public for visitation. The perimeter of the plot is line with metal fencing and the main gate is locked year round.
Thanks to the slanted nature of Montmartre and the transparency of the fencing, however, one is able to walk the adjacent streets of the plot and view most of the greenery from the outside in.
The north-most boarder of the vineyard boasts a beautiful view over the rows of vines and the rooftops of lower Montmartre in the distance.
The limited viewing nature of this attraction makes it an easy addition to any free guided walking tour that takes you through the streets of Montmartre. Rumor has it that a few locals have seen the occasional photographer be allowed into the vineyard, but this is likely only on behalf of the city for content or research purposes.
3. The Vineyard of Montmartre Produces 27 Varieties of Wine
You wouldn’t think that this little square of land would have the capacity to produce 27 varieties of wine, yet here we are.
75% of the produce falls in the Gamay family, 20% falls under Pinot and the rest are small mixes of other variants. Of course many of these need to be mixed together to create all the different combinations available.
The majority of the grapes at Montmartre Vineyard are in the red species. There are, however, a few stocks of white including Sauvignon and Riesling.
In total this vineyard is able to produce enough grapes to make 500 liters of wine per year. This works out to roughly 1700 bottles of wine.
France is the biggest producer of wine in the world. In total, the country will produce an average of seven or eight billion bottles of vino per year. This puts the size of Montmartre Vineyard into perspective, considering only 1700 of these billions come from this small piece of land.
4. The Vineyard of Montmartre Harvest Takes Place in October
These 1700 bottles of Montmartre wine are harvested every year during the month of October, when the grapes are deemed ready by the maintenance crew.
The harvest takes place over the course of a five day long festival called La Fête des Vendanges which takes place on the vineyard grounds and throughout Montmartre.
It is the one time during the year when visitors are welcomed to the property in a celebration of fine wines, delicious food, cooking classes, live concerts and parades. It attracts roughly 500,000 people per year and is suitable for the whole family.
The grapes from the mass harvest are taken to the vineyard cellar which is a short walk down Montmartre hill. It is here that they will be properly pressed and bottled. 1700 bottles is generally the goal but not always attainable. Some years the vineyard sees production of anywhere between 1500 bottles down to 1000 bottles at best.
The harvest festival is a beautiful thing to witness in this small town if you are around during the autumn month of October .
5. All Proceeds from the Vineyard of Montmartre go to Charity
When compared to other fine wines produced around France, the quality of the Montmartre wine would only ever be classes as average. It’s never going to compete with Bordeaux or Burgundy — but the Montmartre wines have a soul of their own that makes the quality somewhat irrelevant.
Each of the harvested bottles of wine from the Montmartre Vineyard is auctioned off at prices starting at either €20 or €40, depending on the grape. All of the proceeds collected from this sale go to charity and the vineyard goes another year being maintained by the city of Paris.
This may seem like a hefty price tag for an average bottle of wine, but when you consider the rarity of these bottles and the very communal nature of the vineyard, it becomes well worth the support and investment.