Intrepid Intern

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Hi there followers of Wendy’s blog! Ever wondered what it would be like working for a Vineyard Tour Company? Read on for a little bit about my experience.

I’m Natalie (sans h), and it’s been 3 months since I started work as an intern for Vin en Vacances, 3 crazy months which have flown by, obviously caught on the back of that famous Languedoc wind. Now that it has reached September and the flurry of activity has started to gradually subside, I can look back on the last 3 months and say that I have absorbed the workload and lifestyle relatively well. I have still got 2 months left, so without speaking too soon, I think it is still safe to say that I’ve had a really fabulous and inspiring summer.

Mas Gabriel’s 10th Anniversary

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Mas Gabriel Logo

Peter and Deborah Core made a life-changing move when they quit their jobs in London and headed to New Zealand to learn how to become wine makers. Deborah was a lawyer and Peter an accountant so their new chosen path was one that took them in an entirely different direction and one they have no regrets taking.

The Spirit of Languedoc

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A view over vineyards in the valleyWhat’s in a name? I run a few long weekend wine tours in Languedoc each year and a few years ago I was searching for a title for one of them. The tour in question is a 4 night, 3 day tour that explores 3 different parts of the region taking people to taste the wines and foods of the region. It also explores some of the historical events such as the Cathar Crusade and we visit some beautiful villages, markets and some historical buildings, lunching each day on local cuisine.  It has taken me many years to seek out all these gems and it’s been a journey of a lifetime helped by some of the friendliest people I have ever come across.  The pace of life is slow and people have the time to stand and chat or watch the world go by. One wine maker I visit always greets me with ‘welcome to paradise’ and I nearly called the tour that but I chose instead ‘The Spirit of Languedoc’.

The Corbières Gourmet Tour

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016Every year we run some long weekends of wine and food tasting tours in the Languedoc and last weekend we ran one called ‘The Gourmet Corbières Tour’. Eight people booked their places so the tour was full and I arranged for them to stay at a super B&B ran by a wonderful cook called Elisabeth in the village of Lagrasse. They arrived on Thursday night, all Brits and only 4 of them already knew each other but the group gelled beautifully and I think they will remain great friends.

The tour began on Friday and was run by Carlos, one of the newest members to the Vin en Vacances team and a great asset. His talented language skills, his knowledge of the region, wines and history plus his ability to create a great rapport with everyone made the day a superb success. The group visited 2 fabulous vineyards in the Boutenac area of the Corbières and were welcomed in to the garden of a private house, owned by friends of Vin en Vacances, for a delicious lunch.

Juicy ripe Tomatoes (and other tasty things)

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Wendy in MarketYou haven’t tasted real tomatoes until you taste those ripened by the Mediterranean sun. It’s the same story with all the fruit and vegetables here in Languedoc-Roussillon, they have a taste you won’t find in those greenhouse ripened cousins which actually bear very little taste resemblance to those bursting with sunshine flavour.

Mediterranean food is loved the world over and often written about but I have not come across any Languedoc specific articles so I was delighted when I found Caroline Conran’s book Sud de France, the food & cooking of Languedoc (available to buy from our website).  It is filled with fabulous recipes using the delicious produce of the region. I have used it many times and everything has turned out superbly well and tasted delicious. Chapter 8 is dedicated to vegetables, pulses and wild foods and this perfectly reflects the culture here, for foraging is something the Languedoc folk love to do.  In this chapter is a recipe for La Truffade which is a rustic cheese and potato cake. No truffles are contained in this dish, it gets its name from the old Occitan word for potatoes, truffas. But truffles are very much part of the cuisine of the region and we celebrate them during the season of January and February with several festivals.