For the first time in France, a cherry has been designated PGI (Protected Geographical Indication)! The tradition of cherry cultivation in this region has been recorded as far back as the 17th century, and this appellation is the result of generations of hard work to perfect the quality of the fruit. The PGI designation covers a significant part of Vaucluse, which is hardly surprising as it is France’s No. 1 cherry producing region.
Did you know ?
In the beginning there was the “amérise” cherry variety from the wild cherry tree – a tree which people nowadays appreciate more for its wood than its fruit. These trees form the origins of our current cherry trees.
Originating from the shores of the Black Sea and imported to Rome around 2,000 years ago, the cherry conquered France at the end of the Middle Ages. The variety of choice in Provençal gardens of the time was the sour black Morello cherry. It was not until the 19th century that this trend was reversed, and people acquired a taste for sweeter cherries.
In the 20th century cherry cultivation spread in Vaucluse, because the trees are so hardy and undemanding – and because successive frosts had decimated the region’s olive trees. Cherries eventually became staples, helped by the fact that the cherry harvest falls right between the apricot and olive harvests.
Aujourd’hui, avec près de 2 472 hectares plantés en cerisiers et une récolte annuelle de 15 004 tonnes de cerises de bouche en 2016, le Vaucluse se place au 1er rang de la production nationale. Environ 45 % de la production est destinée à la transformation (fruits confits, confiture…). Le reste est dégusté en frais.
The criteria that Côteaux du Ventoux PGI cherries have to measure up to include optimal maturity, a minimum calibre of 24 mm, an even red colour, and each must be hand-picked. Six varieties are protected, including the Burlat, within a geographical area extending from the north of Ventoux to southern Luberon, and naturally including the Monts de Vaucluse region. The designation covers no less than 70 growers altogether – in other words, a very large part of Vaucluse!
Association de valorisation de la Cerise des coteaux du Ventoux
8 route de Blauvac
Président : Jean-Christophe Neyron
T. 33 (0)4 90 69 77 41
Why not try...
- An electric bike ride through cherry orchards and vineyards: from Terraventoux cellars in Villes-sur-Auzon, €35/pers, every Tuesday from May to September, by reservation 24 hours in advance. Ideal for exploring the landscapes of cherry orchards and vineyards without wearing yourself out!
- Visit the Maison du Fruit Confit, opened in 2018, and learn about the long tradition of Luberon’s candied fruit industry, and especially candied cherries.
- Celebrate cherries at the Festival of Cherries and Local Produce in Venasque – note that there will be no festival in 2020.
- Get to know all there is to know about the cherry by heading over to the Guild of the Monts de Venasque Cherry, a quality brand of cherries set up in 1978! www.cerise-venasque.com