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Award-Winning Wines From Rugged Slopes: Domaine de la Rectorie


Our mission is to expand and delight your wine palate by sharing the undiscovered viticultural gems of the Languedoc-Roussillon. Friends often help out by telling us about amazing wines they’ve discovered while traveling in our region.

Last year, we received this message from a friend who was visiting the artist village of Collioure which is in the Roussillon region, right on the Spanish border: "You must share the wines of Domaine de la Rectorie in the US!" We followed up on his suggestion, made a visit down to the domaine, tasted their wines, and discovered a true jewel. 

Wines Nurtured On Unforgiving Slopes

Domaine de la Rectorie is a family domaine located in Banyuls-sur-Mer, an area of the Roussillon which at first glance seems inhospitable to any kind of farming or viticulture. The geography is incredibly steep, rocky, and hard to access. Yet vineyards have been planted on the surrounding hillsides for centuries and the village is world famous for fortified sweet wines.

Domaine de la Rectorie's high-altitude slopes produce extraordinary wines.Domaine de la Rectorie's high-altitude slopes produce extraordinary wines.

 

The steep, rocky slopes are so unforgiving that to this day machine harvesting isn't even an option. Grapes must be harvested by hand, and cultivation is aided by the family’s team of horses.

Domaine de la Rectorie's vineyards must be hand-harvested.

 

For centuries, For centuries, "borie" or huts have shaded vignerons and their animals from the intense heat on the rugged slopes of Banyuls-sur-Mer. The borie also provide storage for tools.

 

On The Trail Of An Undiscovered Gem

To learn more about Domaine de la Rectorie, we dispatched one of our most knowledgeable team members, Ioana Bucur, French Wine Scholar, COO, and tasting room manager. After experiencing the wines and spending time with the winemakers, Ioana delivered her verdict — the wines of Domaine de la Rectorie were spectacular, embodying all of the qualities that first attracted us to the winemaking renaissance of the Languedoc-Roussillon. Artisanal, influenced by terroir, shaped both by tradition and creativity, these wines captured it all. 

Ioana Bucur visits Domaine de la RectorieIoana with Emilio Perez, Domaine de la Rectorie's export and sales manager.

 

Since then, we've been able to visit the domaine and experience these stunning wines ourselves. We toured the vineyards and the winemaking facilities. Following in Ioana’s footsteps, we met with Emilio Perez, an amazing team member.

La Rectorie is run by founder Thierry Parcé and his son Jean-Emmanuel. The Parcés are members of a winemaking family whose roots run deep in Banyuls-sur-Mer.  Thierry's great-grandmother, Thérèse, oversaw the vineyards for nearly 50 years. At that time, the grapes were taken to the local cooperative cellar for vinification. Thérèse's father, Marcelin, made fortified sweet wine in the second half of 19th century. 

The wine cave is actually a repurposed underground bunkerThe wine cave was once a WWII underground bunker. It's now used for more peaceful purposes.

 

Award Winning Wines In Demand

Extreme geologic conditions, hands-on viticulture, and generations of winemaking expertise coalesce to create the exquisite wines of Domaine de la Rectorie. It's no surprise that the wines have received numerous awards and are in demand all over the world. Princess and Bear was able to secure a small allocation of four cuvées: L'Argile (white), L'Oriental (red), Montagne (red), and Leon Parcé (vin doux naturel, natural sweet wine).

We normally reserve new wines for our club members, but we've decided to make these wines widely available. After the shipment arrives in August, wine lovers can purchase them on the website and in our tasting room. 

We are off to Greece soon with our family.  We will be looking for new grape varieties that are accustomed to high temperatures because those should be appearing in the vineyards of the Languedoc-Roussillon more and more. Thanks for joining us on our adventures!!

A votre santé,
Carol Bailey and Steve Medwell
Founders, Princess and The Bear Wines

P.S. Our annual party for Mediterranean wine club members will take place in early October 2022. Once again, we've partnered with Vin En Vacances to create a fabulous travel program that will include tours, wine tastings, and restaurants — all off the beaten path. Review the itinerary and learn more here. 

 

 

Time Posted: Jun 21, 2022 at 12:41 PM Permalink to Award-Winning Wines From Rugged Slopes: Domaine de la Rectorie Permalink
 The Princess and The Bear
 

Founder Notes: A Tasting Ramble & Our Latest Wine Discovery!

We welcome small family winemaker, Domaine Allegria, to the Princess and Bear family.


Our passion is to find and celebrate the highest quality, small family farms and winemakers in the Languedoc-Roussillon, a beautiful undiscovered region of France. Each year, when we return to the region after spending the winter with our family in the US, this passion is renewed and deepened.

This year, our first discovery was Domaine Allegria in the village of Caux. As is often the case, we learned about this small family domaine through another one of our winemakers — aka the Princess and Bear “grapevine” 😁.

Wine cave of Domaine Allegria

The estate was founded by Delphine d’Aboville and her husband Ghislan in collaboration with the family of legendary winemaker Roberto de la Mota of Argentina. Delphine and Ghislan excel at producing small quantities of handcrafted organic wines.

We filmed this brief video during our recent visit to Domaine Allegria, introducing Delphine and Ghislan and describing our process of finding new domaines:

“Allegria” means “joy” in Occitan, the medieval language of the Languedoc. The estate’s motto is “A hillside where life is good.” After visiting the vineyards and spending time with Delphine, Ghislan and their five children, we can attest to the truth of these descriptions!

Delphine d’Aboville with a box of wine in tow for our “tasting ramble.”

Delphine and Ghislan treated us to a special experience — a tasting ramble. We followed them from vineyard to vineyard, glasses in hand, pausing to taste each wine while overlooking the very plot where its grapes were harvested.

This small family farm covers 12 hectares (~30 acres). The soils relfect the incredible diversity of the region’s terroir, including deposits of enormous oyster shells dating back 1.5 million years. The shells impart minerality to Domaine Allegria’s exceptional white wine “Les Hautes Lumières.”

The Syrah vineyard lies on an ancient lava field on the slope of a dormant volcano. Both the ancient oyster shells and the basalt from the lava fields give unique minerality to the white and red wines of Domaine Allegria. 

The estate’s terroir is influenced by both the igneous rock of an ancient lava field (left) and deposits of massive oyster shells (middle). The shells impart minerality to Domaine Allegria’s white wine (right).

Our tasting ramble was followed by a farm-fresh lunch at the home of Delphine and Ghislan. We were surprised and delighted when Delphine grilled duck breasts over the hearth in the living room.

Delphine preparing the hearth to grill duck breasts.

We left Domaine Allegria with full bellies and grateful hearts. This summer, we'll begin "spreading the joy" of their artisanal wines in the US!  

In the meantime, stay tuned for more of our Languedoc adventures on the road and in the glass.

Delphine and Ghislan d’Aboville with their five children and two Great Pyrenees guard dogs.


Finally, our hearts are with the people of Ukraine during this extraordinarily difficult time. Like many of our Languedoc neighbors, we are sending support to the Ukrainians who remain in the country.  Many of us have opened our homes to the refugees fleeing to the South of France. Our fervent hope is for peace and stability to return to the region and the people as soon as possible.   

A votre santé,
Carol Bailey and Steve Medwell
Founders, Princess and The Bear Wines

 

Time Posted: Mar 22, 2022 at 12:47 PM Permalink to Founder Notes: A Tasting Ramble & Our Latest Wine Discovery! Permalink
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December 6, 2021 | The Princess and The Bear

Founder Notes: Year-End Reflections & A Hopeful Adieu

Founder Notes: A Challenging But Hopeful Adieu To 2021

 

As we look back on 2021, it's hard not to dwell on the difficulties. People suffered and died from COVID-19. Businesses failed and with them the jobs that families rely on. Many of us weren’t able to be with the loved ones we count on for support and joy. And divisions seemed to worsen in societies across the world among people who cannot agree on basic facts.  

All of this gives us pause. But it also strengthens our resolve to promote kindness and bring people together by sharing our love of the wines, culture, and history of the Languedoc-Roussillon.   

Year-End Reflections

2021 brought challenges for Princess and Bear Wines, but also growth, community, and the discovery of delicious new wines. Scroll on for a few highlights!

New tasting room, opened April 24, 2021

Thank You For A Year Of Growth

Despite shipping disruptions and an astronomical cost increase, we still managed to find incredible wines at reasonable prices, enabling our business to grow throughout the year. You helped as well! A huge thank you to all of you who introduced friends, family members, and colleagues to our wines through gifts and word-of-mouth.

Welcome To Our New Tasting Room

At the local level, we got off to a rocky start with the closure of our tasting room in Seattle. But a few months later, we opened the doors to our new tasting room, a gorgeous, light-filled space in South Park, an exciting, multicultural neighborhood in Seattle. 

Since then hundreds of people from the Seattle area have been able to taste the wines we personally research and select from the Languedoc and Roussillon regions.  Thank you to everyone in the Seattle area who visited the new tasting room and shared it with friends. We deeply appreciate the warm welcome we’ve gotten from the South Park community.

Carol and Steve with independent winemakers Franck and Christina Avéla

Introducing—Fabulous New Wines And Winemakers

Because Europe was still quiet in the beginning of the year, we had few visitors and didn't travel much. As a result, we had plenty of time to taste new wines and discover fabulous new winemakers. We continue to be inspired every day by the hard work of small, independent winemakers and their families. The hands-on nature of their winemaking and the quality of their wines is rare and admirable.

Our wine club members will be receiving some of these incredible new wines in the coming months. For those of you who aren’t yet wine club members, we'd like to "whet your appetite" with two recipes that will be included in the next wine club shipment: 

1st Annual Wine Club Party (In The Languedoc!)

Another bright star in our year was the first annual party for our Mediterranean wine club members and others who have strongly supported Princess and Bear Wines.  We hosted the party at our home with music, fantastic food, and five of our winemakers and their partners and spouses.

Friends new and old at the 1st annual wine club party

Our local travel partner, Vin en Vacances, also organized day trips to the many historical sites in this region. This included a seafood lunch on the Mediterranean where the Romans first landed, just before they planted vineyards in the Languedoc over 2000 years ago. It was a true joy to introduce this beautiful region and a few of our winemakers to our wine club members. 

Wine Makers at the annual Languedoc Party

Winemakers at the annual party, left to right: Franck & Cristine Avéla - Domaine Avélla, Lidewij van Wilgen - Terre des Dames, Camille & Ulrich Izarn - Borie la Virarèle. 

Hope And Adventure In The New Year

Despite the challenges of 2021, we feel a sense of enthusiasm and excitement for what the next year will bring. Thank you for your support, and for trusting us to introduce you to wines far off the beaten path! We hope you'll continue this adventure with us in 2022, as we go deeper into the heart of the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region.

Wishing you and yours love, good health and joy!  

Santé,

Carol Bailey and Steve Medwell
Founders, Princess and The Bear Wines

Learn more about Vin en Vacances.

 

Time Posted: Dec 6, 2021 at 7:57 AM Permalink to Founder Notes: Year-End Reflections & A Hopeful Adieu Permalink
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October 12, 2021 | The Princess and The Bear

Travel, Wine, Food, Culture: Wine Club Party In the Languedoc!

October 9th marked our very first wine club party at our home in the Languedoc. It was a magical evening, filled with incredible food and wine, laughter, music, and friends, new and old.

Twenty-five of our top-tier Mediterranean wine club members and other supporters of Princess and Bear Wines flew from all over the US to join us. European friends and five of our winemakers attended as well.

Oct. 9th party at Carol and Steve's home in the village of Quarante

The wine was flowing and the food was fabulous, enhanced by the music of a British DJ who played Brazilian classics throughout the evening, creating an atmosphere both cozy and cosmopolitan.

The party was part of a tour we organized with our friend Wendy Gedney of Vin en Vacances, one of the premier vineyard tour companies in the Languedoc. 

Winemakers at the party. Left Photo: Franck & Cristine Avela - Domaine Avela (left), Lidewij van Wilgen - Terre des Dames (center), Camille & Ulrich Izarn - Borie la Virarele (right). Upper Right Photo: Simon & Monica Coulshaw of Domaine Trinites (1st from right), Kirsten & Glen Creasy of Terre2Sources (2nd from right).

For us, the wines, landscape, culture, and food of the Languedoc-Roussillon region are inextricably intertwined. This tour was designed in that same spirit.Carol Bailey, Founder, Princess and The Bear

The itinerary included wine education, tastings, and tours of several artisanal, organic winemakers who own their vineyards, cultivate their vines, and carry out all aspects of the winemaking themselves, root to sip. We trust that everyone on the tour felt as inspired as we do by these incredible individuals. 

Left: Princess and Bear Founder Carol Bailey and COO Ioana Bucur with 23-year-old winemaker Audrey Rouanet of Domaine Rouanet Montcélèbre. Right: Street signs and vineyards outside the medieval town of Minerve. 

Historic markets, medieval castles, and a restaurant on the Mediterranean Sea near the salt flats rounded out the program, offering participants a rich experience of this extraordinary region. 

Private Princess and Bear food and wine paired dinner at L’Atelier in the medieval village of Caunes-Minervois.

To give you a better sense of the tour, we've attached the itinerary below.

It was a joy to host everyone and share in their delight as they discovered the supernatural South of France!  We are already planning for next year…

A votre santé,

Carol Bailey and Steve Medwell
Founders, Princess and The Bear Wines

Learn more about Vin en Vacances.

Review the itinerary.

 

 
Time Posted: Oct 12, 2021 at 11:31 AM Permalink to Travel, Wine, Food, Culture: Wine Club Party In the Languedoc! Permalink
 The Princess and The Bear
 

The Magic of Food and Wine Pairing

 

Photo collage - food and wine pairing

One of the benefits of the Princess and Bear Wine Club is access to original food and wine pairings. For every quarterly shipment, we design recipes to complement the specific aroma, flavor, and body profile of each wine.  

Designing these food and wine pairings starts in our home in the Languedoc. Each year, we tour the region, tasting hundreds of cuvées but selecting only a small percentage to import to the US. 

Food and Wine Pairing - Pech Redon with chard fritters and halibutL'Epervier Blanc ($32.99/@) paired with Swiss Chard Fritters. Recipe designed by Founder, Carol Bailey.

 

In food and wine pairing, the magic happens when the food elevates the experience of the wine, and the wine brings sparkle and depth to the foods that nurture our bodies and spirits.Carol Bailey, Founder, Princess and The Bear

 

After visiting a domaine and discovering a “winning contestant,” we leave with a bottle to enjoy at home, just as our customers eventually will. 

Here's where the fun begins!

In an almost meditative silence, we taste the chosen wine, teasing out the nuances. As we refine the aroma, flavor, and body profile, the perfect food and wine pairing begins to emerge.  

 

L'Epervier Blanc with halibut ingredients - food and wine pairingIngredients for Halibut w/Peach-Mango Salsa. Recipe by Founder, Carol Bailey. Pairing suggestion 2019 Cyprius ($22.99/@) 

Carol then draws upon her expertise as an internationally trained chef, most recently at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, Ireland. She also taps into a lifetime of dining on the culinary creations of excellent home cooks and world famous chefs. The result — a unique recipe that complements and enhances the flavor profile of the wine, and vice versa!

We invite you to sample two Princess and Bear recipes:

Halibut Recipe  - Food and Wine Pairing


Chard fritters recipe - food and wine pairing

A votre santé,

Carol Bailey and Steve Medwell

Founders, Princess and The Bear Wines

Time Posted: Aug 10, 2021 at 11:37 AM Permalink to The Magic of Food and Wine Pairing Permalink
 The Princess and The Bear
 

The Secret to Expanding Your Wine Tasting Palate (and Improving Your Relationships!)

photo collage - secret to expanding your wine tasting palate

Folks often ask us for guidance on the best way to expand their wine tasting palate.

Our answer always includes a confession — before moving to the South of France six years ago, we were narrow-minded tasters. If a wine didn’t taste familiar, we would turn up our noses and move on. Since most of the wines we encountered were from American producers, “familiar” generally meant heavily oaked (US winemakers tend to use oak more liberally that their European counterparts). 

Our wine “awakening” occurred after a wine tasting tour with Vin en Vacances which exposed us to the extraordinary winemaking renaissance underway in the Languedoc-Roussillon. The experience was so profound that we launched Princess and The Bear Wines to share the delicious, affordable, artisanal gems of this region with American wine lovers.

 

Carignan, a native grape of the Mediterranean

Since that first experience, our palates have expanded dramatically. We’ve tasted over a thousand cuvées, eagerly trying wines made with unusual grape varieties and vinification methods. Where once we gravitated to heavily oaked Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons, now we prefer wines with minimal or no oak, allowing the grape varietal to express its qualities in the terroir where its roots live. 

Our current favorite white wine is Cyprius from Domaine La Bouysse ($22.99/@), a blend of Grenache Blanc, Vermentino and Macabeu. While some light oak is detectable, the natural acidity of the Mediterranean grape varieties keeps the wine fresh and lively.

Crisp white wines, like Cyprius from Domaine La Bouysse, are a welcome departure from the heavily oaked style of American Chardonnays

The independent winemakers of the Languedoc-Roussillon create wines from a wonderfully diverse range of grape varieties. Many of these varieties were unknown to us before we moved to the region, such as Carignan, a native grape of the Mediterranean.

La Deves, a Carignan-dominant cuvée, has become one of the Princess’s favorite wines. The hints of suede leather are a reminder of her Texas roots!

La Deves, a Carignan-dominant cuvée from Domaine Des Trinités 

Today, we value quality, personality, and character in wines, rather than familiarity.  The "zing" of a fresh white wine excites us much more than heavily oaked whites.  Herbal wines interest us more than fruity.  Even slightly oxidized wines have a place in our expanded palate (Princess more than Bear 😊). 

We approach every new wine as if it might become a treasured favorite, regardless of price, label, or critical response. And we don't expect everyone's taste to align with ours. Wine tasting can be incredibly personal and subjective. Just as some people love peach pie and others love broccoli quiche, so each taster has unique preferences for the taste, aroma, and feel of different wines. 

So — what is the real secret to expanding your palate? The answer can be equally applied to our relationships as to wine — keep an open mind and try not to judge in advance. 

A votre santé, 

Carol Bailey and Steve Medwell

Founders, Princess and The Bear Wines 

Time Posted: Jul 6, 2021 at 12:31 PM Permalink to The Secret to Expanding Your Wine Tasting Palate (and Improving Your Relationships!) Permalink
 The Princess and The Bear
 

South of France Meets South Park Seattle: Our New Tasting Room

As the country reopens, and folks safely take to the skies, trains, and roads once again, we’d like to suggest a festive, wine lover’s option for your itinerary — the grand opening of our new Princess and Bear Tasting Room! The celebration will take place July 8th - 11th.

Our tasting room is located in a boutique village in the Seattle neighborhood of South Park, an area known for its diverse community of creatives, entrepreneurs, and mavericks, reflecting the same independent spirit we admire in our winemakers. So we feel right at home!


Ioana Cosmina Bucur, FWS Chief of Operations


The space is designed to bring the warmth and conviviality of the South of France to Seattle. Patrons are invited to connect, find community, and taste and learn about our hand-selected, small batch Languedoc-Roussillon wines. In the coming months, we’ll also offer live music, sales of full bottles, and small bites and noshes!


Kristi Tower Wine Club Concierge


We were also drawn to this location because of the ample free parking. When picking up a wine purchase, you can relax in your car while we bring out your order. When visiting the tasting room, you'll have plenty of time to raise a glass with friends, new and old (with a designated driver of course). 


Rachael Beidler Chief Executive Officer


Our tasting room features distinct, well-spaced areas, allowing patrons to be with each other in whatever way feels comfortable. Groups can gather in our tasting bar while Kristi Tower, our wine club concierge, or another team member, shares about the unique grape varieties, root-to-sip winemakers, and rich history of the Languedoc-Roussillon. 


Bar area

Bar area


For a more intimate experience, wine lovers can sit at our bistro tables and enjoy being served by Princess and Bear staff. For larger groups and visitors interested in meeting new friends, our communal table seats eight to ten people. On warm days, outside seating will be available as well.


Bistro and communal table seating

Bistro and communal table seating


Our lounge area features a cozy sofa and chairs, perfect for folks in the mood for easy conversation while exploring a new cuvée.


Lounge area

Lounge area


After enjoying our tasting room, we suggest wandering next door for a fantastic meal at Osprey Bistro or a small craft beer at Tin Dog Brewery. You can also explore the wider South Park neighborhood which offers a variety of wonderful restaurants, food trucks, and novelty shops.

You're invited to drop by now or for our grand opening celebration, July 8th - 11th. Learn more and book reservations here. 

A votre santé,

Carol Bailey and Steve Medwell

Founders, Princess and The Bear Wines

 

 

 

Time Posted: Jun 12, 2021 at 1:07 PM Permalink to South of France Meets South Park Seattle: Our New Tasting Room Permalink
 The Princess and The Bear
 

Blind Rosé Tasting! Introducing Our Winners

Wines Featured In The Blind Rosé Wine Tasting

The Thrill of Tasting New Vintages

Each year we participate in an exciting ritual — tasting new vintages and choosing the very best to delight our wine club members, wine lovers, and everyone in the Princess and Bear community.

This year’s blind tasting of 2020 Languedoc and Roussillon rosé wines was thrilling. Based on our research from personally visiting winemakers, tasting wines, and touring vineyards, we narrowed the field to twelve top contenders. We then organized the blind tasting at our home in the Languedoc, inviting wine professionals and amateurs alike.

The below video offers a peek at our preparations for the tasting, including our “high-tech” method of keeping the wine identities under wraps!

 

And The Winners Are...

After tasting each of the wines, everyone regrouped to compare notes on color, clarity, aroma, taste, mouthfeel, and finish. We also factored in our personal preferences and shared when we’d been pleasantly surprised by a vintage. In the end, after reviewing our own notes and taking into account the input of the wine experts (Wendy Gedney and Kate Wardell), Steve and I chose eight rosés as the best-of-the-best:

Domaine Terre des Dames Diva Rosé

Domaine Terre des Dames Le Rosé

Domaine Chateau de l’Ou Rosé

Domaine Les Terrasses de Gabrielle Summer of Love Rosé

Domaine Cailhol Gautran Roseum

Domaine Terre Des 2 Sources Amourettes

Domaine Gilbert & Gaillard Le Rosé

Domaine Modat Le Petit Modat Amour

In the coming weeks, we’ll be importing these rosés. Once we've added them to our website, you'll be able to purchase them and conduct your own tasting! Don’t forget — wine club members enjoy first access to all of our new wines.

Thirsty Now?

To tide you over until our new rosés arrive, we invite you to explore other delicious cuvées from the winning domaines:

Wines from Cailhol Gautran

Wines from Terre Des 2 Sources

Wines from Gilbert & Gaillard

Wines from Terre des Dames

Wines from Les Terrasses de Gabrielle

Wines from Chateau de l’Ou

Wines from Domaine Modat

 

This Year's Wine Experts Kate Wardell Wendy Gedney

 

For this year’s blind tasting, we were joined by two excellent wine educators, Wendy Gedney and Kate Wardell.

Wendy began her career as a wine educator in England. In 2009, she followed her dream to live and work amongst the vineyards of the Languedoc. She holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) diploma and is a WSET certified tutor. Her company, Vin en Vacances, is the leading wine tourism business in the Languedoc, offering off the beaten path wine tours and tastings that highlight the diversity of quality wine in the region. In fact, it was a Vin en Vacances tour that opened our eyes to the extraordinary winemaking renaissance underway in the Languedoc-Roussillon. Our tour experience was part of the reason we founded Princess and Bear Wines. Visit https://vinenvacances.com/ or Instagram @vinenvacancestours to learn more.

Wendy’s partner in crime, Kate Wardell, is a graduate of HOSTA, a premier hotel and tourism school in Switzerland. She holds a WSET 3 distinction and is working on her WSET diploma. She is regularly invited to judge wines at Europe’s largest organic wine expo – Challenge Millesime Bio.

We’ve learned so much from both of these joyful wine educators! Thank you Wendy and Kate!

A votre santé,

Carol Bailey

Time Posted: May 11, 2021 at 5:15 AM Permalink to Blind Rosé Tasting! Introducing Our Winners Permalink
 The Princess and The Bear
 

Root-to-Sip: The Gifts (and Perils) of Small Farm Winemaking

Root to Sip Winemaking

If you belong to our wine club, or have enjoyed any of our wines, you’ve experienced something remarkable and rare — authentic, Root-to-Sip winemaking.

What does Root-to-Sip mean?

True Root-to-Sip winemaking is an intimate, high-touch process typically practiced by small family farms. Every aspect of the winemaking is carried out by the same hands: from pruning three times a year, to harvesting and destemming, to fermentation. Often these winemakers practice organic viticulture and use no chemicals or added yeast. Principles of sustainabilty and Earth stewardship guide the relationship to the land, plants, and animals.

In our experience, these wines express the most colorful and distinctive personalities. They also impart a strong sense of “terroir” or place, a quality impossible to cultivate in corporate monoculture vineyards flung over many miles.

Root-to-Sip winemaking is not for the faint of heart. Small family farmers are vulnerable to Mother Nature and erratic weather. This year's Spring bud break in our region of the Languedoc was interrupted by a late frost that killed off newly emerged buds. 

 

Healthy buds at Bud Break, and damaged bud from early freeze

Top: Healthy bud that will flower before developing into grapes. Lower left: Signs of the spring “bud break” before last week’s frost. Lower Right: Bud growth, dead on the vine, after last week’s frost.

 

Mildew is another danger, particularly for farmers who refrain from the use of chemicals. Last summer, a mildew blight sickened the grapes, causing catastrophic grape loss.

Unlike corporate operations, most family farms can’t compensate for major losses in one vineyard with a healthy harvest at another location. So the very thing that creates the magic in the wines we sell — Root-to-Sip, small family farming — means these domaines face existential risks every year.

 

Clay Amphora

Root-to-Sip winemakers often employ creative methods, such as aging in clay amphora — an ancient shape used by the Romans for both aging and storage.

 

We are honored to support the “small is beautiful” farms and winemakers of the Languedoc-Roussillon as they struggle against challenging weather conditions. For over 2,000 years this farming culture has existed in the Languedoc. Our hope is for the tradition to endure another 2,000!

We’re also honored (and delighted) to be your “boots in the vines,” discovering the very best wines the region has to offer. When you purchase one of our wines, you can trust it has our "Root-to-Sip" stamp of approval. We personally visit every one of our winemakers, tasting wines, touring vineyards and winemaking facilities and, most importantly, building community —and spotting the occasional goat!

 

Springtime is also for baby goats!

Springtime in the Languedoc means baby goat sightings!

We're thrilled that our new tasting room opens April 22nd in Seattle, WA! Email us if you'd like a socially distanced tasting: info@theprincessandthebear.com

Time Posted: Apr 13, 2021 at 4:07 PM Permalink to Root-to-Sip: The Gifts (and Perils) of Small Farm Winemaking Permalink
 The Princess and The Bear
 

Forging Her Own Path — Diane Losfelt, Winemaker of the Year

Our celebration of International Women's Day and Women's History Month continues! Today we raise a glass to Diane Losfelt of Château de l'Engarran, one of our winemakers who was recently awarded Winemaker of the Year by Guide Hachette, a publication considered by many to be the “bible” of French wine.

Diane has been the owner and winemaker at Château de l'Engarran for more than 30 years. Her guiding principles for creating her wines are authentic terroirs, elegance, and, above all, personality. Her wines embody strong character and high style — like the winemaker herself!

Steve and Carol visit Diane at Château de l'Engarran. Princess and Bear is proud to carry 2019 Château de l'Engarran Rosé, 2019 La Lionne Blanc, and 2013 Quetton Saint Georges.

We asked Diane to share her thoughts on receiving the Winemaker of the Year Award, as well as the challenges and rewards of being a female winemaker in an industry where women are still underrepresented. She also described her vision for the future of Château de l'Engarran and the launch of a new cuvée!

The winery operates in a 17th century chateau with a romantic, formal French garden surrounded by 60 hectares of vineyards.

This isn’t the first time Diane and her wines have been recognized by Guide Hachette. On five prior occasions, her wines have received the guide’s highest rating (3 stars and a coup de coeur); most recently, Château de l’Engarran Grés de Montpellier 2017 for the 2021 Guide Hachette. 

The exceptional rating for Château de l’Engarran Grés de Montpellier carries special meaning for Diane because it honors a wine first bottled by her mother, Francine, in 1978.  Diane said the acknowledgement brought "joy and satisfaction to be shared with your team and family. The way, all through these years, from one winemaker to another, from one woman to another, from one vintage to another.”

Château de l'Engarran is certified Terra Vitis. This means the winery practices responsible, sustainable farming while respecting both the earth and the people who live and work nearby.

Despite the previous awards, Diane was amazed to learn she'd been named Guide Hachette's 2021 Winemaker of the Year for the Languedoc region. “Of course after 37 years of being a winemaker, you hope you’re doing your job the right way," she said. "And I'd already won some awards. But this is like the 'grail,' the utmost acknowledgment.”

Left to right: Diane, her mother, Francine, and sister, Constance.

Being a woman in an industry steeped in tradition and dominated by men for hundreds of years has been both challenging and deeply gratifying. At the start of her career, Diane aroused suspicion among her winemaking peers in the Languedoc. Not only was she a woman and young mother, she was considered overly intellectual because of her degree in Agronomical Engineering. Being from Paris didn’t help either. “Nobody trusted me. I had to fight my way through, step by step.” 

Diane discusses winemaking.

During one harvest, when she was pregnant with her third child, the chief harvester remarked that he hoped it was boy. When Diane asked why, he stated matter-of-factly that the son could take charge of the vineyard. “What am I doing now,” Diane replied, “if not being in charge of the vineyard?” 

Diane is keenly aware that her career would have progressed more rapidly if she were a man. However, she feels the slower path has presented its own opportunities. She is the first woman to join the Languedoc Producers Union — and the first to become vice president. Often, hers was the only female voice among the men. “And I can tell you, I made my voice loud enough!” 

Her advice to up-and-coming female winemakers? “It’s a fight...but it is worth it! Women are allowed to have ambition, and they are remarkably underrepresented in the upper echelons of the Producers Union.” 

Diane and her niece, Emilie, will continue to fight the good fight, exploring the enormous potential of the Languedoc and drawing upon the extraordinary terroir and history of Château de l'Engarran to create delicious wines with distinctive personalities. “Ours is now among the best wineries of the Languedoc. My Mother was right, l’Engarran is worth it!” 

To celebrate the Hachette award and the power of the feminine, Diane and Emilie are launching a new cuvée, ELLE.  We can’t wait to raise a glass! 

 

Time Posted: Mar 9, 2021 at 1:04 PM Permalink to Forging Her Own Path — Diane Losfelt, Winemaker of the Year Permalink