* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Monday, June 2, 2014

Fete of the wine and the vine

When we lived in Paris, I had a good friend who was a wine enthusiast, and he introduced us to an annual Paris wine show.  We discovered a couple of vendors who became favorites we would look up
A Provençal vineyard along our route
every year. The year we moved down south, we informed the vendors that we were leaving and to take our names off their mailing list.  However, one of them told us that they held their own annual event at their château in the south and invited us to join them there.
  While they are at least a three hour drive, that's still a lot closer than going all the way up to Paris.  Eventually, because it was still rather far, we have become their guests for the whole weekend.  We thank them for that by helping them host their event for around 150 people.

Where our wine originates
Originally, there was a vintner who had four daughters, none of whom seemed interested in continuing the family business, which had been in operation since around 1750.  But one of the daughters married a guy who thought he would enjoy taking over the production, and he modernized the whole operation.  The father had let the name of the business drop, so the new husband had to come up with his own.  In honor of the family, he named it Les Quatre Filles, which means The Four Daughters.  While we've known three of them for many years, one lives way up at the top of the country, and we only met her for the first time last year.

The four daughters who have a business named for them

The château

The family château, which I believe was built by the grandfather, sits on a lovely property.  The four daughters grew up in this house, as did the current generation.  It is a real pleasure and privilege to have our own bedroom in it every year for the fete, plus other times we've passed through the area.  We are invited to stop in any time.

The château and grounds

The two sons, Vincent and Romain

Since we've known the family, the husband has turned the reins over to his two sons, so it's been interesting to see the torch being passed on.  Here are the two of them being occupied with the wine tasting aspect of the fete, which kicks off the day's events.

The daughter, Caroline
Service for 200
The wine tasting is followed by a cold buffet, which is primarily planned and prepared by the daughter.  We've known her since she was a junior in high school, and now she's a detective with the Paris police.  She never had any interest in being involved with the wine business, but she comes down every year to organize the meal aspect of the lunch.  She does an incredible job year after year.  While the guest list is supposed to be limited to around 150, this year there were almost 200, and she made all the salads for all of them, plus many of the desserts.

Half the buffet
The other half

Imagine how long the serving line took for 200 people.  At least it was a lovely, although extremely windy (a regular problem, the region is quite known for its Mistral), day, and every one had a wonderful time, so they weren't too unhappy.
The front of the line
The back of the line

Being now like part of the family ourselves, I helped a lot in setting out the dishes and glasses and then the food, then I made sure that as various dishes were emptied, they were taken off the table.  Meanwhile, Doc Leo helped to set up all the tables and chairs, and then he did his fair share of washing dishes and glasses, then washing more dishes and glasses.  For the most part, it was the men doing all the washing up all afternoon.

The purpose of the fete, of course, is to sell wine.  I believe they consider that it was a profitable weekend for them, which in today's economy isn't always the case.

Getting down to business

So once again, we spent a wonderful if not busy weekend with business acquaintances who have become personal friends, to the point that we are basically family when we visit, and we left with another open door invitation to stop by whenever we pass through.  And this time, we offered to come even another day earlier next year to help more with the preparation if they should find that useful.  We consider this weekend one of the highlights of our year.


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