French Wine Grapes Grow Out of Former Coal Mine Garbage Heap in Northern France

A stock image of a wine barrels.
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A piece of lush land in Northern France is a former slag heap and is the place where the waste from coal mines was dumped.

They say that you can age like fine wine but what about vino in a heap of garbage?

This past summer brought on a heatwave in France that scorched the land, and grape growers found a way to make a special harvest that will soon be turned into “Charbonay” wine.

The 10-year-old vines were named “Charbonay” as a word-marriage between the classic chardonnay grape and "charbon," which means coal in French.

A lush piece of land in Northern France is a former slag heap, which is where the waste from coal mines was dumped.

There are more than 350 slag heaps, sometimes called spoil tips, in Northern France alone, and people have been looking for environmentally friendly uses for what used to be industrial trash.

Trying to transform a slag heap into a winery has additional challenges. The land is steeply sloped, making it difficult to use modern machinery. Most of this wine operation is done by hand.

But more importantly, what does it all taste like?

“Charbonay” has been described as “scented and very buttery,” and the vintage reportedly “compares well with white burgundies in the same price range."

The winery’s owner says this year’s harvest should be triple the previous year, proving even a heap of waste can give you a reason to say “Cheers!”

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