TripAdvisor Reviews: Don't Be a Stranger!

“C’était une très agréable visite pour nous, surtout parce que nous n’étions pas les seuls à nous amuser–eux aussi!”

(It was a very enjoyable visit for us, especially since we were not the only ones having fun, [the O’Connells] too!)

This morning, I had the idea to reread my TripAdvisor review from when I first visited O’Vineyards back in September 2010. I was not surprised to rediscover my first impression of this place–it hadn’t changed one bit. Since day one of my current stay, I have been telling myself the same thing every day: the O’Connells have way too much fun making wine. Their joy and passion is contagious, too.

So we would like to take this opportunity to send out a special thanks to all the guests who have kindly left a review on the “Domaine O’Vineyards” TripAdvisor site. We greatly appreciate your praise, compliments, feedback and striking photos of our vineyard (see below for a few of our guests’ own snapshots). Above all, it helps us keep all the memories alive too!

Whether you stayed at our Bed and Breakfast, dined with us at our Winemaker’s table, or simply popped in for a tasting, we’d love to keep in touch through the TripAdvisor site. Donnez-nous de vos nouvelles…Don’t be a stranger!


Photos de Domaine O'Vineyards, Villemoustaussou
Cette photo de Domaine O’Vineyards est fournie gracieusement par TripAdvisor

Photos de Domaine O'Vineyards, Villemoustaussou
Cette photo de Domaine O’Vineyards est fournie gracieusement par TripAdvisor

Photos de Domaine O'Vineyards, Villemoustaussou
Cette photo de Domaine O’Vineyards est fournie gracieusement par TripAdvisor

This is part of my guide to ViniSud 2012

Like all the great music and art festivals, Vinisud draws a lot of talent to the area where it’s held (Montpellier).  So every day, after the fair ends, the party is just beginning for other people.

The French refer to afterhours parties and tastings as “OFF’ events.  This is a run down of all the OFF events I’ve heard about so far.  Feel free to add your own in the comments section or email me if I’m missing some.

If you find this list helpful, consider tweeting about it or sending a link to your friends by email.

Events that require a reservation or paid entry are marked as such.  Note that virtually all of these events are meant for wine buffs.  Especially the ones that are invitation only.  You should probably only attend if you’re in the trade or press, or if you can demonstrate a pretty professional enthusiasm for wine.  The dinner events are probably more open to amateur visitors.  Don’t get mad at me! You know I don’t make the rules. 🙂

Sunday OFF Events

Le Vin de Mes Amis – 14h-19h – Domaine de Verchant 34170 Castelnau le Lez
Cost 10€
Vin de Mes Amis blog
PDF of invitation vdm 2012 pdf
A huge list of very good wines.  A lot of the usual suspects from Changer l’Aude en Vin, but tons more to boot.  See page 2 of the Vin de Mes Amis PDF for details.  I heard that this might be at Trinque Fougasse O’Nord but the invitation says Domaine de Verchant. Look into it if you’re interested!

Haut les Vins! – 10h-20h – Chateau de Flaugergues (in Montpellier)
official website
list of participants
A large group of winemakers from all around France, and a couple from Portugal, Spain and even Serbia.  This gang will be doing their tasting at a Domaine that is actually located within Montpellier’s city limits.  My buddy Benoit will be pouring his zero dosage Champagne and lots of other good winemakers are in attendance.  It’s open all Sunday so if you get to Montpellier early, this is a great way to ease into ViniSud.  But don’t party too hard as you have three days of salon ahead of you!

ViniFilles – 18h30 – Jam 100 rue Ferdinand de Lesseps 34000Montpellier
invitation required
This group of Languedoc Roussillon winemaking women are having a rock show and tasting at the Jam.  There’s a buffet and ample wine.  The bands playing are Les Gazelles de Bruxelles and La Mal Coiffée.  But there is a guestlist so you have to contact them if you want to get in.

Chateauneuf du Pape, Tavel & Rasteau – 19h – Chateau de la Banquiere Vauguieres le Haut 34130 Maugio
dinner & music
invitation only
The AOCs Chateauneuf du Pape, Tavel & Rasteau are organizing a nice dinner with music and winemakers from the three appellations presenting their wines around a buffet dinner.

Monday OFF Events

G-Night, Occupy Grenache – 19h-2h – location not yet announced (underground ;D)
PDF of invitation G-Night Invite Vinisud 2012
Facebook event page
A night devoted to Grenache.  Run by the same people who organized the Grenache Symposium at La Verriere.  Should be fun.  The location is still a surprise so I expect they’ve got something fun in store to reveal it closer to the date.

Le Vin de Mes Amis – 10h-19h – Domaine de Verchant 34170 Castelnau le Lez
Cost 10€
Vin de Mes Amis blog
PDF of invitation vdm 2012 pdf
Les amis this time around are Jean Yves Bordier with butter and cheeses from Saint-Malo, Irene et Julienne Daniaux with glass art, and Antony Cointre a roving chef.  And a huge list of very good wines.  A lot of the usual suspects from Changer l’Aude en Vin, but tons more to boot.  See page 2 of the Vin de Mes Amis PDF for details.

Haut les Vins! – 10h-18h – Chateau de Flaugergues, Montpellier
official website
list of participants
If you’re not in town on Sunday, they’re doing it all over on Monday.

Contains Sulfites…Mais Pas Trop! – 18h – Le Ban des Gourmands, Place Carnot, Montpellier
Official blog
RSVP required on the official blog
This hilariously named group of reasoned winemakers are doing an event on Monday night at a restaurant. It might be a sit down dinner… the invitation just bills it as an Intergalactic journey. 😀  Reservations should be made before the 10th so hurry up!

Mas de l’Ecriture – 18h-20h30 – Chez Boris (brasserie)
invitation only, for wine trade and press
A 12 year vertical of Mas de l’Ecriture. Pretty stunning opportunity, but very limited space in the venue.

Tuesday OFF Events

Mardi Gras des Gaillardises – 11h-20h – Aeroport Hotel Maugio/Montpellier
blog post about the event
facebook page
25 winemakers will present their wines at the Aeroport Hotel which is easy to get to by using the regular airport shuttles from the Parc des Expositions.  There are some really top notch producers from all over France.  And of particular interest to my blog readers, there are a couple of Internet superstars including my mom from O’Vineyards, Iris Rutz-Rudel from Domaine Lisson, Isabelle Perraud from Cotes de la Moliere, Amy Lillard from La Gramiere, and Lilian Bauchet from Les Bachelards.   So if you’ve been reading our blogs and wondering if the wine is as good as the words, here is your chance.  Full list of vignerons available in the link above; you’ll see there are some heavy hitters.

Mas de l’Ecriture – 18h-20h30 – Chez Boris (bistrot)
invitation only, for wine trade and press
A 12 year vertical of Mas de l’Ecriture.  Note the venue changes from the similarly named Chez Boris Brasserie to Chez Boris Bistrot.  But still limited space.

So OFF that they’re ON

There are a few events that are structured like OFFs or have the spirit of an OFF, but they’re actually going to take place within the walls of ViniSud.

The Outsiders will be teaching you new ways to communicate about wines.

on Monday afternoon at 16h @ the Pavilion 2.0
on Tuesday morning at 10h @ the Pavilion 2.0

chateau margaux cellar I just got to visit Chateau Margaux on their first full day of the 2010 harvest.  This is sort of a dream and it’s hard to believe that it really happened.  It was an authentic and intimate glimpse into the belly of one of the world’s most prestigious estates, one of the four (five if you count Rothschild twice) premier grand cru estates in Bordeaux.

As you know O’Vineyards grows Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Cabardes region of France.  So we’re always talking about the potential of these Bordeaux varietals in the Atlantic Corridor of the Languedoc.  So it’s an exceptional opportunity to see how Chateau Margaux (arguably the most famous producer of Cabernet Sauvignon in the world) harvests and vinifies.

That first photo up top is a partial shot of one of their TWO cellars.  They age the wine there for a full year (so that’s the 2009 being aged in the photo) and then they move it to the second year cellar.  Now why am I talking about large wine cellars?  Those aren’t unique by any means as large wine cellars exist around the world, but I think it’s a good place to start talking about Chateau Margaux.  cabernet sauvginon chateau margaux harvestWhile it’s very well-recognized that this estate produces some of the world’s most desired wines (the 2009’s are hitting 1000 Euro / bottle), what a lot of people don’t realize is how many bottles they make of it.  To produce that quality level on such a large scale is truly a wonder of the world.

Down south, we have some cult wines and some famous wines, but production tends to be very small.  I’ll flatter myself through a brief comparison.  I like to think my wine is very good, but I have to acknowledge that I could never scale it up to produce thousands of cases per year.

So how on earth do they scale up the production of this quality level?  Well, they have two identical harvest lines bringing in pallets of small fruit cases full of hand-harvested grapes.  The small crates full of grape bunches run up a short conveyor belt.  A person  empties the crates onto a sorting line where bunches that show any sign of rot are removed (although I spent a long time up there without seeing any which indicates a good harvest and/or a talented team of harvesters who only pick the good stuff).

harvest chateau margauxThe conveyor belt drops the grape bunches into a machine I don’t know the name of photographed here (but the front of it says “VINOCLEAN”).  It is some sort of very fancy destemmer that takes the grapes off of their stems very nicely and bounces them down to another conveyor belt. One more machine that crushes the grapes very slightly before they are dropped into a stainless steel container.

This container is brought to the winery by futuristic pallet jacks with built in scales so they know how much tonnage goes into each tank.  The stainless steel container is hoisted above by a winch and the grapes are carefully dropped into the tanks from above.

As the pallet jacks wisked past us, Marie from Chateau Margaux reached in and grabbed some 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon for us to taste.  I get to taste before Parker now! ;D

chateau margaux cabernet sauvignon harvest

grapes hoisted by winch at chateau margaux

And then there’s the whole process of fermentation where they are truly dedicated to maintaining the high reputation of their estate.  Needless to say, I took a lot of notes and borrowed a couple of the less expensive ideas for O’Vineyards.

And then we had a really educational tasting of the 2009 and a few other wines followed by the most amazing meal in a very elegant dining room of the Chateau proper.

I will talk more about this visit when I’m not so busy with my own harvest, but I thought it would be fun to share this technical side of the Chateau Margaux harvest intake while my brain is still in harvest mode.  It is rare to get such an unfettered glimpse into the process of a legendary wine estate.  Thanks again to Paul Pontallier for his excellent welcome at Chateau Margaux. And also a huge thanks to Barry and Stuart for making this visit possible.  What a fantastic experience!

OVineyards winemaker dinner at Carcassonne

O'Vineyards winemaker dinner

We were interviewed for Food and Wine Talk, a radio program based out of Miami and hosted by Simone Diament and Carole Kotkin.

Winemaker interview for Domaine O’Vineyards

This was an event organized about a year ago by the CIVL and they had a little winemaker dinner with some American press.  Since our wines had been selected for the US Ambassador tour, we were poked to do this very fun dinner in the medieval castle city of Carcassonne.  There was another larger producer in the Malpere present, so it was a fun western-Languedoc dinner.  Not enough focus on the Malpere and Cabardes, two Languedoc appelations with very peculiar varietals available to them (eg. Merlot, Cabernet)

Here’s the full article about Carole’s Languedoc travels.

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.