Rose De Mai Harvest In Grasse

The gold standard for all rose cultivation and harvesting
comes to a close for the season

Flowers Fragrance
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For five weeks between May and early June, in a small area of Grasse in Southern France, dozens of sun-bronzed local harvesters in straw hats move up and down the rows of bushes, gently but with purpose, snapping off their pink blooms and gingerly placing them into the apron pouches they wear. They are on a mission and time is not their friend. Like battlefield medics who understand the fragility of life, they must collect, bag and transport their fragrant bounty back to the processing facility before the rose heads begin to decompose and lose their stunningly vibrant aroma.

As the blooms pull up to the facility, men, young and old, unload dozens of burlap sacs which are quickly transferred to the plant. Inside, as the blooms await their fate in the extractors, processing vats where their oil will be expressed, men with pitchforks and shovels repeatedly “churn” the large pile of roses to keep them from crushing each other and delaying their demise. As the multi-tiered extractors are prepared, thousands of roses are then dumped in, their fate sealed inside the vats where Hexane, a powerful solvent, is pumped in to facilitate the molecular extraction of rose oil.

The result leads to a solid “concrete,” a waxy aromatic disc with the rose essence which is further processed to reveal a reddish-golden concentrated rose absolute oil. What results after this laborious process is one of the world’s most exquisite aromas in the world, which can be found in Rose Immortelle, Pétales d’Amour, Scarlet Flower and several other Belle Fleur fragrances.

image 1 & 4 Photograph by Parki Dukovi

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