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Goodbye vines...

Leaving Domaine de la Citadelle

So it's a bittersweet feeling currently. On the one hand, I'm about to be finishing up in France, taking my winemaking exams (gulp!) and rejoining my family in Chagford and plunging head long into running the store.

On the other, though, I'm leaving a workplace and group of people I've spent the last two years with. My colleagues gave me so many leaving gifts, I don't know where to begin, but the signed Jeroboam of the wine I helped make this year, with a lovely picture of us all, is really a wonderful highlight.

Will I miss Provence? Of course, some parts. The produce, the mountains, the markets... But I love the moors, and that is home.

Really though, the thing I will miss the most, is those beautiful vines. I never expected it - I spent a good part of my youth in the city, and never expected to find any plants and the soil they grow in to be so fascinating. But the vitis vinifera vine is a wonderful thing. Humans have learned to look after it, train it and coax the best out of it for thousands of years, but we are still left mystified at times about why it acts in certain ways.

For me, the best wines come from those producers who respect the vine and where it grows. It may sound common sense, but you can't make good wine without good grapes. This is why there is a growing trend towards Organic and Biodynamic products. It's true that it's no guarantee of quality, just as not having a certification doesn't mean the producer isn't careful about what products it's using. But at the very least, we know that the producer is reflecting on what it is doing, and how.

In the end, I take care to understand as much as possible about each wine I have in store, and I have a high proportion of Organic and Biodynamic wines. It is important that I understand that what I am selling is a product that has been created thoughtfully.