In mid-July, my wife and I travelled to France to visit
the Mastalerz family living in Montpellier in southern France. We were able to
see some wonderful examples of the history of the area. One day we took the time to visit one of the local vineyards near Montpellier. We arrived at the Les Coteaux De St Christol Winery in the early afternoon and were treated to some great southern French hospitality. In preparation for the trip, I did some web research on the wine industry and grape growing regions of France.
Three of the best known wine growing regions in France include Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Champagne. The Burgundy area produces various wines from the Pinot Noir and
Chardonnay varieties. The Bordeaux area features the "noble" vine, the Cabernet Sauvignon. The best sparkling wines in the world are produced in the Champagne region. Other wine growing regions in France include Loire Valley, Savole, Rhone Valley,
Alsace and the Midi and Provence Regions near Montpellier, France. These other regions produce a wide variety of different full-bodied reds, whites, aperitif and dessert wines and popular
As we drove into the entrance to Les Coteaux, it was obvious that most of the acreage of the farm was cultivated in grapes. Most of the vines we saw were mature and laden with grapes moving towards harvest. Harvest of these grapes would not occur until late August or early
September. Most of the vineyards in the same area also had acres and acres of grape vines stretching as far as the eye could see. One farm had started some new
vines that had been lost in a wild fire in 2010. It was clear from looking at the landscape
why France is the leading wine producer in the world. I was surprise to find out that Luxembourg actually drinks more wine per-capita than France.
As we approached the winery, warehouse and retail shops, I was impressed with the simplicity and neatness of the lay out. Grapes were harvested here, processed into
various types of wines, boxed wine was warehoused and shipped from here and
retail sales were also conducted. The store had a neat but comprehensive display of all the wines that Les Coteaux De St Christol Winery offered.
We shopped and selected some of the ones we wanted to taste before buying. A cheerful young lady assisted us by carefully pouring into fresh glasses the portion of wine
needed to make a decision about its taste. A black vat was located nearby for us to pour off the unwanted taste tests. Of course, when we found one we liked, we drank the whole sample. The best part of visiting a winery like this for me was the rural French
hospitality that was coupled with a simple wine tasting experience that I soon
won't forget. We ended up buying several bottles and I am happy to say they made it back to the States without breaking.
Touring the wine regions in France provided me many fond memories. The vineyards we visited were beautiful to behold and included a back drop of historical structures that date
back hundreds and hundreds of years. If you get a chance to tour a French vineyard, you will enjoy the wine tasting, the country style hospitality and at the same time soak up the historical
significance of this area of Europe. For example, several vineyards in the area where we were staying were bisected by an old Roman aqueduct built around 92 A.D.
I intend to follow up with more details on our trip to France. In the meantime, buy the wine
you like best, store and serve it at its optimum temperature and enjoy immensely.