The brisolée is born with the harvest
Harvests leave a strong mark in the memories of oldtimers, as a time for rejoicing yet a time of fatigue. Trails were long and tiring in this countryside where vine parcels were scattered around and where some farmers were agricultural nomads who moved between plain and mountain. Valais doesn’t have grand harvest festivals. But the intense activity around cellars leads to several festive local customs.
A between-seasons meal
This is the case for brisolêe, a dish of chestnuts roasted over an open fire, with cheese; it became a tradition starting in the 1960s in the Martigny-Fully region. Cafés located near vineyards put together a meal to mark the change from the season of bounty – fresh products (chestnuts, figs, grapes, pears, summer cheeses, grape must, young wine) to winter. Everyone eats indoors after roasting the chestnuts outside; wine and older cheese is served with produce from the current year. This tradition spreads throughout Valais at the end of the 20th century to such as extent that it is no longer limited to the contexts of the grape harvest and chestnut production areas of St Gingolph and Fully.
Other customs linked to the harvest include: kissing the woman harvesting who overlooked one bunch; the four o’clock snack shared along the wall of the vineyard; meals organized by some families and companies as a way of thanking the grape pickers.
Source: Histoire de la Vigne et du Vin en Valais, «Le temps des vendanges», Isabelle Raboud, ethnologist.