Château de Beaupré is a majestic property near Aix-en-Provence of 325 acres of rolling hills covered in vines. The property features an 18th century Bastide with a natural spring. The wine cave is found in a rustic farmhouse on the property that dates to the 15th century.
The wine domaine at Château de Beaupré is the story of the Double family that extends back 6 generations. In 1890 they began the pursuit of cultivating great wine by planting their first vines. Generation after generation the family has carried on the same work with true dedication. In the 1980’s the family were pioneers of aging Provence wines in wooden barrels. Today, the tradition continues with a new generation: Phanette, passionate oenologist and agricultural engineer, and her brother Maxime.
September is the harvest month for vineyards in Provence. I visited the domain a few times and each time Phanette was out in the rows of vines with the team conducting the harvest. Sleeves rolled up, sun hat on, driving an enormous tractor…this is a person completely invested in her wine.
I met Gregory, a viticultor who works closely with Phanette on the domain. He was working on this enormous machine and I asked him to tell me about how he uses it. He explained that this tractor can harvest 12 acres of vines per day. The tractor straddles a row of vines and actually shakes the wood of the grape vine and clips the grapes to fall into a basin at the bottom of the tractor. The video shows the tractor in action.
He explained that the team start their day during the harvest period at 4:00am to collect the grapes for their rosé and white wines. The grapes used in rosé (Grenache), for example, must be crushed immediately to achieve the ideal color and taste. White wine grapes are also harvested in the morning (Grenache blanc, Clairette, Muscat, Sauvignon blanc). The grapes used for red wines can be harvested later in the day.
The domain is a lovely visit. Visitors can see the area where the grapes are treated and the wine is produced, the lush beauty of the property, its many acres of vines, and of course experience an extensive tasting of the many wines the estate offers.
Just after harvest time has finished, picnics in the vineyards are particularly lovely. We glean (in French: “grappiller”) for dessert - les vendanges leave some lingering fruit untouched. Ripe and sweet as can be. With time, the remaining grapes turn to raisins, still hanging there. They are a delectable treat through Christmas, especially when warmed by the sun on a December day (a secret shared by locals here).
Château de Beaupré is open 7 days a week, 10:00am-7:00pm, for tastings. It is a good idea to contact them in advance and plan a more extensive tour/tasing (1.5 hours). They also offer picnics on the property, if scheduled in advance. For further information: https://www.beaupre.fr/