Microbial species present on the surface of grape berries at harvest play an important role in winemaking, thus counting and identifying them is of great importance. The use of conventional microbial techniques and molecular methods allowed a quantitative and qualitative inventory of the different microbial species present on the grape berries. These experiments were carried out in several areas of the Bordeaux region on the red grape varieties Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Populations and species clearly varied according to berry development stage. The most widespread yeast species at berry set, Aureobasidium pullulans was never detected at harvest. Fermentative yeasts were detected at harvest and not in the first stage of grape growth. Oenoccocus oeni was detected on immature as well as on mature berries. Gluconobacter oxydans was detected mainly at harvest. Detection of Pediococcus parvulus, was dependent on the vineyard. Veraison appeared to be a key stage for yeast colonisation and the increase in population involved a change in the proportion of each species. The number of A. pullulans fell significantly at veraison as it was superseded by fermentative yeasts. Microbial populations peaked at harvest when the berry surface available for adhesion was largest and no agrochemical treatments had been applied for some weeks. Soil, grape variety and grapegrowing practices may also influence this microbial ecosystem. Based on these and published data, we formulated hypotheses to describe this microbial ecosystem, thus enabling us to develop the concept of a microbial biofilm.