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Luxury Vineyard Camping

I went camping at the Vinolodge set up in Virgile Joly’s vineyard. Always accused of Blair Witch Style, hand-held camerawork, I was really looking forward to using the camp atmosphere to do a Blair Witch parody. . . But it was actually pretty hard to pretend to be scared or uncomfortable in any way. The tents are simply outfitted, but the gorgeous open space and chic furnishing make it feel pretty posh. And reliance on renewable energy doesn’t prevent the tents from feeling blinged out from time to time with the LED mood lighting and fully-stocked wine bar.

So, enjoy my Blair Witch moment. Even if its pretty chimeric. It was just too hard to feel scared or uncomfortable in such a nice tent.

While the tents are really well integrated into the surrounding vines and local wildlife, you really have all the amenities of traditional eco-tourism projects.  I was pretty impressed with how much space we have especially.  This tent is bigger than a lot of hotel rooms in France.  And it has its own porch, foyer, bathroom, etc. almost entirely powered by the solar cells and windmill outside the tent.

vinolodge tent overlooking terrasses du larzac

To take the two photos below, I just had to turn around.  I hope that conveys how closely juxtaposed luxury and nature are in these tents.  You really just have a nice hotel room in the middle of a bunch of trees and vines and shrub and pheasants and everything else the Terrasses du Larzac has to offer.

beds in eco tent at vinolodge view from bed

Why this project is important

I’ve talked a bit about how comfortable it is. What a nice vacation it would make… but with all that advertising fluff aside, I’m most impressed by the long term implications of the vinolodge project.  The potential applications for winemakers and nature-lovers in general are pretty astounding, largely due to the ZERO impact promise of the lodge.

Beyond being one more way to go glamping (glam camping), the Vinolodge offers an innovative way to drop a tent into the middle of any natural environment without impacting the place permanently. Even dirty hippies in sleeping bags have SOME impact on nature. Experienced campers will know that this is referred to as “low-impact” camping.  But low impact is not as cool as NO impact.  How can a big tent structure have a smaller impact than a hippie in a sleeping bag?  I feel like I’m going to have to explain this … and there’s just no avoiding the one big example.   Oh boy. I guess it was only a matter of time before I start talking about poop on my vineyard’s blog.

A camper creates waste. And even the old “dig a hole and bury your business” solution has an impact. It’s low impact, and you can wipe with leaves and a variety of other gross stuff to lower your impact more, but you’re still leaving a lasting mark on the environs.  But the vinolodge tent has its own waste processing and storage. Whenever they want, they can decide to break down the tents and within a couple days the whole camp has disappeared leaving NO permanent mark on the environment. Not even poop buried everywhere around the tent.

This means that the tents allow for campers to go where even hardcore low-impact types weren’t allowed before. Like my vineyard. Or a well-protected national park. Or remote locations after natural disasters. The vinolodge (frequently referred to as a geolodge) quickly inspires a lot of important big picture ideas. It goes far beyond the long list of novelty eco tourism that ranges from cramped tree houses to glorified camping car parking lots.

What does it mean specifically for vineyards and the Languedoc?

I think that it offers an unprecedented access to the terroir that we like to brag about so often. A wine drinker who stays in one of the vinolodge tents becomes familiar with the local flaura and fauna in a way that is simply extraordinary. You can hear things at night, you can smell things in the morning, that you just don’t get access to unless you live on a vineyard. Heck, a lot of winemakers would benefit from staying in their own vines once or twice as many of us live quite a ways away from our vineyards.

Imagine having 10-12 of these lodges set up throughout the Languedoc Roussillon. A person could choose to stay at a series of vineyards and really discover the nuances between the microclimates, soil topography, what goes bump in the night, etc. I think that people who really are keen on learning the difference between one terroir and another will appreciate this first-hand access and experience. And I wouldn’t really be comfortable taking regular campers in year round… but the vinolodge makes it feasible and even attractive.

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  1. falchetto john Says:

    Great idea! I love it. Maybe they should setup tents like these around the Cote du Rhone area also. I would definitely be a taker. Now let just hope nobody gets shot by hunters as the ouverture approaches.
    Seriously, I love the idea and the concept behind it.

  2. mroconnell Says:

    haha, John. I’m so glad you didn’t mention hunters until after my night there. Thankfully for prospective tourists, the season that these tents are open to the public (May-August) is free of hunters. I’m glad you like the idea. I liked it too.

  3. Iris Says:

    well, I would rather opt for such lodges around during harvest period – exclusively reserved to hunters by night – perhaps that could bring the solution to my wild boar problems… even if they don’t shoot at least they could snore in concert after some bottles of good Lisson wine in the evening;-)!

  4. Louise Hurren Says:

    Hi Ryan, glad your Vinolodge test drive was a pleasant experience. Thanks for helping spread the word and encouraging people to tread a little more lightly on the earth’s surface.

  5. Graham Says:

    If the lodges come with figging rights then the waste disposal would certainly get regular testing (sorry, couldn’t resist).
    Seriously, this is an excellent idea, and given it’s nearly 8 months to go before welcoming the first paying guests it feels like a project with long term commitments.

  6. Harvest Time in the South of France 2010 | Love that Languedoc Says:

    [...] one video I took at Virgile Joly’s vineyard when I stayed at his new Vinolodge project which Ill tell you all about later! Share the [...]

  7. Comment rester glamour au camping ? Essayer le glamping ! Ecolodge de luxe au plus près des terroirs — Bourgogne Live | Site d’information sur le vin, l’œnotourisme et l’art de vivre en Bourgogne Says:

    [...] « J’ai été agréablement surpris par la place disponible. Cette tente est plus grande que beaucoup de chambres d’hôtel en France. Les tentes sont très bien intégrées au milieu des vignes et de la faune locale. Vous avez vraiment toutes les commodités traditionnelles des offres d’écotourisme. J’ai été assez impressionné par la quantité d’espace que nous avons en particulier. Cette tente est plus grande que beaucoup de chambres d’hôtel en France : elle a son propre auvent, séjour, salle de bains, etc et elle est presque entièrement alimentée par l’énergie solaire et éolienne. » Lire la suite en anglais sur le site de Ryan O Connell [...]

  8. Graham Tigg Says:

    Any news on Vinolodge in the Languedoc – things have gone very quiet

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