Grenache Symposium - La Verriere

A lot of the time, we use the words conference, salon, fair, expo and show interchangeably (not to mention the French equivalents and the ever popular foire).  Which is sort a travesty because they all have their own nuanced meaning.  This weekend, I’m at the International Grenache Symposium in the Rhone and let me tell you… they have organized a true symposium.

symposium (plural symposiums or symposia)

  1. A conference or other meeting for discussion of a topic, especially one in which the participants make presentations.
  2. (in ancient Greece) A drinking party, especially one with intellectual discussion.

So we had 6 panels on topics like winemaking, viticulture, marketing and so on.  All Friday, the panelists met to discuss exactly how each panel would approach their topics.  Experts from several continents met to brainstorm and bring some pretty cool ideas to the table.  There’s a real exchange before and during the presentations.  And then, like in ancient Greece, a drinking party with intellectual discussion ensued.

You know I think of myself as an ascended fanboy and this weekend has pushed that feeling into overdrive.  Randall Graham is laughing at my stupid jokes.  Michel Bettane wakes up and says good morning to me as he comes down the stairs at this gorgeous estate in the Rhone.  We share snarky quips throughout the presentations, bouncing back and forth between English and French as we casually discuss the future of the world’s fourth most planted grape varietal.

I am in some sort of storybook where all the people who shape and influence the wine world with their words and their wines have come to share a stage and I get to walk around amongst them smiling and bashfully letting them know that the only reason I’m in France making wine is because they inspired me to be crazy.   Then Herve Bizeul pours me a glass of his finest out of what looked like a nebuchadnezzar… or something… it was huge.

Chene Bleu, an independent and rural estate in the cliffs of the Rhone has created an unforgettable gathering place where some of the coolest people on earth are meeting and sharing ideas and wine.  People from more than a dozen countries are all just here because we really like Grenache and know that we can do a lot with this grape varietal.  The organization has been flawless, all these moving parts quietly and efficiently preparing the next step of our day so that we can almost think it’s effortless.  Like it happens every weekend.  But it doesn’t happen effortlessly or regularly.  This is the first time ever and it’s a once in a lifetime experience.

Incidentally, I really want to get some Grenache vines now. ;D

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.