This was without doubt one of the best experiences we’ve had on our honeymoon in France. Joe and Liz, the owners of O’Vineyards, are a fabulously welcoming, friendly, fun couple who made us feel completely at home the moment we arrived for our visit to their winery to be followed by lunch.
We had biked up from Carcassonne (about 35 mins if you take the D118 route) and arrived somewhat hot and bedraggled. Joe immediately offered us a large glass of ice cold water, swiftly followed by a glass of delicious white wine, as we cooled down in the surroundings of their beautiful home.
Joe then took us outside, where we enjoyed 360 degree views of the beautiful countryside and rolling vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see. He explained about the different grapes they grew, and the different cultivating and cropping techniques they used to get the best crop out of each type of grape.
We went then went into the sorting and fermentation room. Joe talked us through the entire process, from harvesting to sorting, fermenting, distilling, mixing and barrelling. We tasted generously sized samples of their reds straight from the tanks and barrels. (Joe later quipped that he couldn’t understand why French domains normally serve such small sample sizes – the one thing that they have in abundance as wineries is wine!)
This was then followed by a delicious lunch cooked by Liz, where the conversation and wine never stopped flowing. To start, we had a fresh salad with slightly curried eggs, local red spiced lamb sausages and home made pates. For the main we had perfectly cooked crispy whole legs of duck with artichokes and courgettes picked less than one hour ago from their garden, with the tastiest fried rice I’ve ever had (no grease, but packed with flavour) and a duck sauce with fresh herbs from the garden. We then had some excellent cheeses (including a brie that Liz had added walnuts to – yum) followed by chocolate brownies and vanilla ice cream.
Throughout the whole meal our glasses never went empty. We had a glass for both red and white, and we continued to try different wines throughout lunch. Our favourite was their Proprietors Reserve 2005, of which we bought 2 bottles.
Throughout lunch Joe and Liz kept calling their gardener, Michael, over for glasses of wine and to sample all the dishes – this seems absolutely in keeping with their characters, which are welcoming, inclusive, fun and caring. It was just like being with friends and family.
We had such a great time that we’ve booked to come back for their B&B getaway weekend – 2 night with meals and wine. We absolutely can’t wait to return.
Joe and Liz, thank you for such an amazing experience (especially when it was supposed to be your day off!) and pass on our thanks to Michael for making the garden look so lovely and produce all those yummy vegetables and herbs.
Can’t wait to see you again soon! Helen and Aaron xx