Not that long ago I knew very little about wine. Fate brought me to the subject and opened up a new life for me, one I never imagined living and one that introduced me to people that I could never have met in my old life. And it brought me back to the Languedoc-Roussillon, this magical and very special place where I now live surrounded by vines and earning my living from and with them.
New to our range of offerings this year is our Wine Cellar Dinner Party and as with all new products there has to be a premier and this week we welcomed 14 wonderful people for the first time into the wine cellar at Domaine de la Senche in La Livinière.
The Languedoc region is blessed with many things but I think three of the most enticing things for visitors is the climate, the wine and the history and here at Vin en Vacances we have devised a tour that guarantees all of this. Catharism was a religious cult that spread through many parts of Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries but it was in Languedoc where it flourished and was openly practised. As it took hold the Pope tried to control the people and bring them back to the Catholic faith but his efforts failed and he realised he needed armed men to crush the Cathars in Languedoc. He eventually persuaded the King of France to join him in a Holy War, a crusade against Catharism. The king wanted Languedoc to be part of his realm and saw the crusade as a chance to achieve this dream so he raised a massive army led by the Dukes of France and the warrior Catholic churchmen who marched on Languedoc.
During the first months of the year, a walk through a vineyard is like visiting a cemetery. The vines look dead, standing like rows of headstones and it’s hard to believe they will resurrect to produce juicy grapes in half a years’ time. The vines are dormant and have been since their leaves fell after the first very cold spell, usually just after Christmas. It was then that the pruning began. The farmer must hand prune every vine and ideally this job must to be finished by the end of March, before the warming of Spring wakes them from their long winter slumber. Pruning is an important and skilled job as it will determine not only the shape of the vine but the amount of fruit the vine will yield.