Eighteen years later!
The cherry of the slopes of Ventoux obtained on June 14 the right to join the very select club of IGP, protected geographical indications.
This badge, awarded by the European Commission after a long national validation procedure, guarantees approved farmers the exclusive use of this territorial designation, on condition that they fulfill tricky specifications.
These producers from Vaucluse launched the procedure in 2003.
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This cherry which grows in the vicinity of Mont Ventoux has two peculiarities: it is large and very shiny.
With a waist size of at least 24 millimeters, it is a third rounder than those conventionally found on the shelves.
But the IGP, unlike a controlled designation of origin (AOC), does not come to sanctify a taste quality.
It is the recognition of a quality and a know-how attached to a very particular terroir.
Consecration of a know-how
Our fruits are brilliant because our soils, very calcareous, do not retain too much water and because we have good exposure to the sun
," explains Jean-Christophe Neyron, president of the producers' association.
We have know-how in terms of fruit size which is linked to the way in which trees are cut. They are pruned quite severely so that they are no more than 3.5 - 4 meters high. The IGP also recognizes our ability to choose the optimal maturity of the fruits: we have a color code associated with each of the varieties that we cultivate.
»Harvesting must be done by hand. A precise set of specifications, closely monitored by the certification authorities, which will ultimately make it possible to stand out on the markets and sell at a higher price.
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But before completely reshuffling the cards in Vaucluse, the leading cherry-producing department in France, there is still some way to go. Today, the cockade brings together only 44 producers for less than 6% of the land dedicated to cherries in the department and an average annual production of less than 1000 tonnes. With a lengthy procedure, people were lost on the way. “
We were around two hundred at the start of the process, but many got tired
,” explains René Reynard, the treasurer of the producers' association.
What was also discouraged is that for several years, we had to apply the specifications, without having the recognition that went with it: it was a blank IGP. As a result, only the irreducible remain.
See you on the shelves ... in a year
The IGP procedure is a succession of administrative tests.
Creation of a defense and management association (ODG) to bring together producers, development of very precise specifications, validated by the National Institute for the Origin of Quality (INAO) at the regional level, then at national level, approval by the Ministry of Agriculture, and finally, final validation by the European Commission.
An extended procedure that lasts, at best, about ten years.
We are people in the field: putting words into practices to make them administratively understandable, it was not easy
, analyzes Jean-Christophe Neyron.
The reform of the INAO in 2007 also made us waste time, we had to take up the case again. But we were able to hold on thanks to the support of the cooperatives, which adhered to the process all along.
The recognition now obtained, the icing will be able to attract new producers. The association estimates that it can multiply its average production by six. If it is too late to find labeled cherries this year, with the season coming to an end soon, that leaves producers a year to gain momentum. "
We will have time to prepare packaging and educate producers",
considers René Reynard. For packaging, it is a tray made from plastic recovered at sea, then recycled locally, which should be retained. It now remains to ensure the distribution. “
There will be all over France
, promises René Reynard.
They can even be found at Galeries Lafayette boulevard Haussmann.