Buvons un Coup Ensemble - Corbieres and Minervois meetings

This Friday, there are a couple cool events about wine communication and sales online. There’s one in the morning in the CIVL’s Narbonne HQ. And the evening will be at a Chateau in Laure Minervois.

Here are the invitations:
Minervois BUCE invitation
Corbieres BUCE invitation

It’s organized by the same gang that does the Université de la Vigne et du Vin which I wrote about in 2011.

Volem Dire al Pais is a video series that aired at the Université de la Vigne et du Vin in 2011 in Ferrals-les-Corbieres. The video series is embedded below. This is one post in an ongoing series about the Universite de la Vigne et du Vin.

One of the coolest things about the Université de la Vigne et du Vin was a series of videos they presented throughout the day called “Volem dire al pais”. The occitan title is a nice nod to the fact that this conference is about local farmers. Occitan dominated these vines for a long time, much longer than French or Anglicized slang, a constant theme for the conference.

Sometimes, conferences like this get a little high brow and far-removed from the winemakers. These videos served as a healthy dose of local wisdom injected into the conference between every set of speakers. A really clever way to help give a well-paced message from lots of locals in between the more academic presentations.

And there are a few good laughs too. 😀

[iframe http://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/xm1j45 480 360]
Volèm dire al País, l’intégrale des 5 volets par onziemetoile

I attended the Université de la Vigne et du Vin in Ferrals-les-Corbieres, a small village in the heart of Languedoc wine country.  This post is a summary of my day.  A full pdf of the event program can be downloaded.

In brief

It was pretty cool.  The Uni is a real home-grown event where some very motivated people in the region (namely Nadine Franjus-Adenis) have organized a conference that addresses issues facing contemporary viticulture.

Nadine Franjus-Adenis stands in front of a giant screen with her profile on it

Nadine Franjus-Adenis hosts the Universite de la Vigne et du Vin

Being local, the conference has a lot of personality and is a bit quirky (which you know I am a fan of).  The organizers interrupt speakers every time they use anglicisms.  There’s a lot of occitan thrown around between presentations.  The whole event is clearly taking place in the Languedoc.

And it also feels a lot less pretentious than other more International events.  And the speakers are easily as good here as the ones I see at larger conferences (Wine Futures comes to mind).  You don’t need to be a big wine celebrity to be thought-provoking. Which is funny because the theme was actually about being a big wine celebrity.

2011’s theme – Riche et Celebre

The theme was “Riche et Celebre?”, a playful choice because virtually all of us in the wine business know how impractical it is to think that all winemakers could become rich and famous.

Louise Hurren’s summary on facebook is very accurate:

Essentially, it was about the importance, for wines and wineries, of being known, of having an identity. In French, the process of being first “connu” and then “reconnu”… there was a lot of talk about the need to work together as a group and have a collective identity. Lot of debate about whether to promote under the banner of terroir, of cepage, of appellation, of brand (eg. Sud de France)… and so on.

People presented on a variety of subjects linked to the theme of notoriety.  There were a number of things I disagreed with, but that’s healthy for a real exchange of ideas.  I hate those conferences where everybody agrees.

Actual speaker synopsis

I started writing these up and some of them got very long so I’ll give them their own posts.  Follow the link to read my thoughts on any particular speaker.

Jacky Rigaux, Université de Bourgogne –
Terroir is the best way to promote French wines

Christophe Juarez, France, ton vin est dans le rouge
Adapting to the modern wine world

Jacques Berthomeau, Ministry of Agriculture & Blogger
Share your stories and use the Internet

Francois Druel, web consultant –
The Internet is cool

Christine Ontivero, PR –
What Press Agents do

Michel Smith, Jouranlist/Blogger and Winemaker –
How to communicate with journalists

Panel Discussion: Individual versus Collective Identity

  • moderated by Hervé Hannin, director of Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Vigne et du Vin
  • Jacques Berthomeau, as above
  • Elodie Le Drean, filiere vin Sud de France Developpement
  • Jerome Villaret, delegue general CIVL
  • Xavier de Volontat, vigneron independant & President AOC Corbieres
  • Frantz Venes, Chateau Massamier la Mignarde

Volem Dire al Paisshort film interview series with Michel Cano conducting interviews and film/editing by Alexandre Pachoutinsky

Wine tasting with Frederic Senechal from L’Auberge du Vieux Puits (Gilles Goujon three michelin starred restaurant)

coverage of l’Universite de la Vigne et du Vin

Other articles about the event:

Photos of Universite de la Vigne et du Vin


This is part of an ongoing series about places to visit near Carcassonne.

Small wineries and vineyards around Carcassonne, often lack the infrastructure to receive tourists year round.  This post will attempt to list some of the wineries that are well-known in the area for receiving visitors regularly.

If you’d like to visit a particular estate (eg your favorite producer), it’s often a good idea to call ahead of time to make sure the winemaker is available to receive you and taste through some wines.  But if you’re fine visiting a winery you’re unfamiliar with, here is a list of folks open to last minute visitors.

Wineries really near to Carcassonne:

O’VineyardsDirections from the castle – This is my family vineyard and we’re generally happy to receive people year round.  It’s always best to call before hand because we are a working vineyard and could be busy. It’s convenient to book one of our wine & food experience on our detailed website . We receive dozens of last minute visitors each year. Visiting us is fun because you’ll actually hang out with the winemakers.  We’re also native English speakers and we enjoy sharing with people who know very little about wine.  So don’t be intimidated!

885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou
33 (0)6 30 18 99 10

Chateau PennautierDirections from the castle – A prestigious estate north of Carcassonne that has a tour of the chateau as well as wine tastings.  They have staff dedicated to these tour groups so you can show up without any reservations.

2 boulevard Pasteur
11610 Pennautier
33 (0)4 68 72 65 29 ?

Wineries closer to Narbonne:

L’Hospitalet – This is a bit farther away in La Clape (by Narbonne), and it’s a bit more of a gift shop tour.  But what’s cool is that it unites wines from all of Gerard Bertrand’s properties in the Languedoc Roussillon.  So in one place, you’ll get to taste wines from lots of different parts of the region.  And Narbonne might be worth a day trip anyway.

Route de Narbonne plage
20409 11104 NARBONNE
33 (0) 4 68 45 28 50

Le Bouis – This one is near Narbonne too and has a cool restaurant.  It’s technically in the Corbieres but it’s not lost in the mountains to the south.  It’s in Gruissan, really close to the coast and makes an easy addition to a Narbonne day trip.  You might also consider seeing the salt flats in Gruissan after visiting the winery.

Route Bleue
11430 Gruissan
33 (0)4 68 75 25 25

Wineries in the mountains of the Corbieres

Driving to these wineries will take some time as they are in the mountains (see map of corbieres wineries).  But this can be a gorgeous road trip.  Avoid the motorway and take the small mountain roads.  But don’t drink too much or you won’t be able to drive back! 😀

Embres & Castelmaure – This cooperative winery has some great wines and display them at the gift shop.  You can do the tasting for free but they only do winery tours if you make a reservation.

4, route des canelles
11360 Embres & Castelmaure
33 (0)4 68 45 91 83

Mont Tauch – Same deal.  A great cooperative winery where you can taste the wines for free, but winery tours must be booked ahead of time and are generally reserved for larger groups.

Les Vignerons Du Mont Tauch
11350 Tuchan
33 (0)4 68 45 41 08

I’ve written about a few other cool wineries in the Corbieres, but you might have to call ahead for some of them.

Harvest is right around the corner at O’Vineyards.  I mean that literally.  If you walk past the corners of our property, you’ll be surrounded by harvesters.

We aren’t harvesting yet.  The grapes just aren’t ready here.  In several days, they will be.  But not today.

Why are the nearby neighbors harvesting?  Different philosophies.  Waiting for that last bit of maturity is relatively risky.  A sudden and heavy rain could lead to watery grapes and grey rot.  Additionally, rain could muddy up the vineyard and make it very hard to pass through and machine harvest.  Alternatively, no rain is almost worse for the guys who sell by the kilo.  As the grapes ripen in the next seven days, they are likely to lose water weight and start to shrivel up just a tiny bit.  When you see a single grape shrivel, you can assume that you’ve lost a huge amount of juice.

With these risks, why does O’Vineyards wait?  Well, we don’t mind losing juice if it means that the grapes will have that extra level of ripeness.  You can harvest now and get good grapes.  But if you wait just a tiny bit longer, you’ll get great grapes.

But we get anxious waiting and preparing.  We’re cleaning all the equipment and moving wine around so that there’s enough space to bring in this year’s 100% hand harvest.  There aren’t a lot of cool movies to film.  I’m basically just cleaning stuff.  But here is a picture just to show you even the boring parts of my life have a beautiful vineyard backdrop.

cleaning cagettes before harvest at O'Vineyards

A new facet of this year’s preharvest anticipation is how jealous I am of everybody who is started or done with their harvest (n.b. these people are in microclimates that harvested earlier this year and escape my obvservations regarding the nearby neighbors mentioned above).  My web efforts have brought me much closer to a lot of estates in the Languedoc-Roussillon and around the rest of the world.  And a lot more people are bringing the harvests online.

It’s oddly distressing to have to watch all these harvests progressing just an hour’s drive away from here.  But it’s okay.  We can form a club of late bloomers.  The tardives climates.  The medium to high altitude vineyards.  I was commiserating with Castelmaure high up in the Corbieres who look like they’ll start even later than me.  I think most of the work getting done so far in the Cabardes estates is limited to white grapes (which aren’t actually included in the classification).

How to find us

Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387

Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
Wine Cellar. Winery Visits. Wine Tasting.
Wine & Food Pairing

North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910

  1. Best by GPS.
    Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
  2. Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
  3. Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
  4. At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
  5. After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.