Last week I was lucky enough to be in the Carcassonne area of South France where I was shooting a destination wedding. Of course it made TOTAL sense to bolt on a few days to the trip, and what better way to fill one of them than to go on a tour of Gaillac vineyards with the wonderful Angus of Fine Wine Tours?
Angus picked me up in Carcassonne and we whizzed over to Toulouse to collect one other lovely lady, then off we went, heading first to the Tarn area to visit Domaine Sarrabelle. We met grandma, resting in the shade after hanging out the laundry, before being shown around by the brothers Fabien and Laurent - 8th generation of wine producers for this vineyard. The tasting began - I can highly recommend wine and pate for breakfast by the way.
Next up was a visit to Astrid and her sons at Peyres Roses where we were immediately immersed in family life. Astrid cooked us one of the most amazing lunches I've ever had and we sat under the trees eating, drinking and talking - exactly the way lunch should be.
Our final visit of the day was to Bruno and Anne at Domaine Duffau. We discovered yet more new ways of making wine and had our last few samples of the day.
For someone who has only ever popped down to the local shop and picked a wine based on how nice the label looks, this tour was a real eye opener. The weather was hot, and huge storms had been predicted. I'd never even thought about how this might affect the thousands of vineyards that cover the area. A unseasonable hail storm could potentially ruin the entire crop for 2 years or more. That's a very real stress when your livelihood depends on grapes and insurance is way too expensive to even consider.
It was a real honour to be invited into the lives of these people for a few hours. Their work is relentless and their passion endless. I'll never drink wine in the same way again!