There’s Something About Sonoma…

binNotes | a food, wine & travel blog

There’s Something About Sonoma…

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

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There’s something about Sonoma…

An intoxicating place of towering palms, embracing oaks, fragrant eucalyptus, spiked aloe and agave, lilting hibiscus, redolent oleander, abundant orange, apricot, lemon, lime, and almond trees…oh, and more than a few acres of vineyards…not to mention a vibrant artisan food and wine scene…

As I catch my ‘wine legs’ and catch up on a backlog of writing assignments, here’s a montage of scenes from my first week in this land of plenty…Santé!


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Red Thread™ Interview | Montinore Estate| Willamette Valley

binNotes | a food, wine & travel blog

Montinore Estate Willamette Valley

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

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Montinore Estate Willamette Valley

Fourth in a four-part series on Willamette Valley wine makers celebrating 50 Years of Willamette Valley Winemaking history and Oregon Wine Month.


“Don’t push the river.”

 So states Rudy Marchesi of Montinore Estate in northwestern Willamette Valley.

Owner of the United State’s largest Biodynamic® certified vineyard, gentle giant Rudy Marchesi imbues heart and soul into his vines, wines, and the workers under his care.

The insatiably curious, patient, yet quietly driven Rudy moved out west to pursue his dream to grow the purest fruit possible, and craft unique, authentic wines from that fruit.

 Fruit that include local favorites like Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, as well as unusual suspects like Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Teroldego and Lagrein.

Recently, the Red Thread™ caught up with Rudy Marchesi and his red wine maker Ben Thomas at Montinore Estate to talk terroir, biodynamics, and family.


RT ™:   Who or what brought you to wine making in the Willamette Valley? 

RUDY MARCHESI:  “I had been growing grapes and making wine at our winery on the East Coast for about ten (10) years when I discovered Oregon wine, and recognized the potential. That was in 1992 when I was visiting my daughter, who was attending Reed College in Portland.

I was able to get a variety of Oregon wines into distribution in New York and New Jersey, including Montinore. I eventually became a consultant for Montinore in 1998, and President of the winery in 2002.”

BEN THOMAS:  “I came to Oregon for two reasons. One was to make Pinot Noir, the other was to absorb the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of Portland. On both counts, my experience far exceeded expectations.”

RT ™:   Tell readers a bit about the history of Montinore Estate. Rudy, it seems you’ve touched just about every corner of the wine industry, from distribution to vineyard management to wine making. 

RUDY MARCHESI:  “Montinore Estate was established in 1982 by the Graham family, who produced their first wine in 1987. They started with over 350 acres of different grape varietals, and eventually eliminated those that did not perform well, finally settling at about 240 acres.

Distribution was primarily in the northwest, until I began a push for national distribution in 1998.  In 2001, I started the transition to organic viticulture, and expanded to biodynamic in 2003.

At the end of 2005, I purchased the winery and became sole proprietor, allowing me to take the winery in a new direction, based upon the premise that organic/biodynamic viticulture produces the highest quality grapes and subsequently, wine.

A great deal of emphasis was placed on improving the health of the farm and vineyards, and within a few years we saw the result in the wines, which became more expressive and of better quality.

I have been growing grapes and making wine for almost forty years, but there was a time when both my daughters were in college that I needed additional income, so I spent seven (7) years working for Allied Beverage Group in New Jersey, a large import/distribution company.

There, I became Vice President of Brand Development, and had a great opportunity meeting growers and producers from around the world, visiting most of the major wine regions, and tasting and evaluating wines from almost every wine region imaginable.  It was a great experience, and gave me a broader perspective later, when I returned to the vineyard and cellar.”

RT ™:   Talk a bit about your distinctive heritage. Rudy, you grew up in an Italian ‘farm-to-table’ culture long before such a concept existed, learning about the beauty and importance of wine as a part of life –  a lesson you’ve passed along to your own family, including General Manager Kristen Marchesi and her children.

RUDY MARCHESI:  “My father was born in the southern end of the province of Lombardy in northern Italy.  He and his family lived in a rural district just above the Oltrepo Pavese, an important wine growing region. They were subsistence farmers, which included growing grapes and making wine.

My grandfather moved to the United States as a teenager. My grandparents later moved to the Bronx in New York, and had a big house with a large garden and many fruit trees and vines.  My fondest memories of my childhood are of family dinners with my grandparents and all my aunts, uncles and cousins at my grandparents home. Everything was homemade, out of the garden, or from my uncle’s butcher shop.  The wine was made in the basement. I had my first garden at age seven  (7), and learned to make wine from my grandfather, who was very talented. 

My father was successful in his business ventures and loved to take us to good restaurants in New York City, where my mother would silently analyze the dishes and try to recreate them at home.  The summer of my 16th year, we made trip as a family to Italy via France and spent the summer visiting family and seeing the sights.  By the end of that trip I had eaten in some of the best restaurants in Paris, Rome  and New York, along with exploring the wines of each region.  While the great meals at restaurants were memorable, we especially enjoyed sharing local dishes with family and friends when visiting their homes. That was a formative experience for me that I am sure influenced the paths I have chosen throughout my life.”

RT ™: Ben, you enjoyed a fairly unconventional upbringing. How has this shaped the way you grow and craft your wines?

BEN THOMAS:   “My mother is a wine and cider maker, and it’s her lead that I followed into world of winemaking. I grew up both on a commercial fishing boat that trolled the waters of Alaska and off the coast of Washington and a homestead on the Olympic Peninsula. This upbringing strongly influenced my relationship to food and drink. I learned the importance and satisfaction in self-sustenance. At almost every opportunity, we made, grew and caught our own.”


RT ™ :  Talk a bit about Montinore’s Biodynamic® certification from Demeter USA.  People may not realize that Montinore Estate is the largest Biodynamic® certified vineyard in the United States.  Why jump through all the costly and time-consuming hoops necessary to achieve the Biodynamic® certification from Demeter USA?

RUDY MARCHESI:  “The Biodynamic® certification was the end point of a long process.  I had first heard of biodynamic farming back in the late 1970’s, when a friend came to help me in my new vineyard. He had gone to Scotland to work on a biodynamic farm called Findhorn.  His stories and descriptions were fascinating, but I had trouble finding much information on the farming methods.

Later, when I was working at Allied Beverage Group, I was responsible for the Burgundy portfolio and much of the French selections, where I started to notice that some of the wines I liked best were biodynamic. I was determined to find out more.

Through a friend, I found out about a 10-month course in biodynamic farming and gardening given at a small college in New York, which I was finally able to attend in 2003.  At that time I was responsible for all the farming at Montinore, so I started experimenting with biodynamic practices with some great results.

I also recognized that many of the principles of the practices were similar to the way my grandparents gardened and made wine. I gradually expanded those practices, and in 2008, decided that we should be certified by Demeter USA.  By the time we applied for certification, we had been engaged in biodynamics for five (5) years, so we didn’t need to do much to qualify.

I believe strongly in Biodynamic® certification primarily because it insures and preserves the integrity of the practices.”

BEN THOMAS:  “We are the largest Biodynamic®  winery in the United States, believe it or not. It is still seen by many to be a niche market and a quaint-yet-hip production gimmick. Not for us. We’ve come to the conclusion time and again that the results of Biodynamic® farming just makes sense, even if the reasoning behind it often doesn’t. It works for the land, us who work here, and the wines we produce.”

RT ™ Let’s talk a bit about terroir. What sorts of soils and microclimates inform the flavor profiles of your wines? Do you have a favorite block? If so, which one(s) and why?

RUDY MARCHESI:  “Montinore Estate is located in the northwest portion of the Willamette Valley, and possesses a relatively unique set of soils compared to the rest of the valley.

Much of the vineyard land to the south and east of us is composed of either volcanic or marine sedimentary soils, each producing wines that reflect those soils.  All of our soils are every young, and were deposited at the end of the last ice age by the Missoula floods.

On the east and northeast-facing blocks, the soils were brought in by the wind in between the floods, so intrinsically very fine in texture, mineral rich, and with enough clay to have good water-holding capacity.

On the southern end of the farm, the soils are from the Missoula floods by brought here by the flood waters themselves.  What we find is that wines made from these vineyards, with their relatively unique soils, have distinctive character different from those of the valley to the south and east.  Our Pinot Noir is more savory than sweet with a character of berries, rather than cherries, and with a distinctive herbal, spicy character in the finish.

Our Pinot Gris is more citrus and tropical than most, with a distinctive herbal character similar to Sauvignon Blanc, and our other whites are very aromatic.  We have seen a great increase of these expressions since we converted to Biodynamic® practices.

I don’t have a favorite block since each one has its own appeal, and sometimes that will change with vintage.  I am glad to have so many blocks to work with to make a wine representative of the entire estate.”

Note: General Manager adds: “I’m particularly excited about our Gewürztraminer block. It’s part of the original planting in 1982 so is starting to show some age, but Stephen makes the most expressive yet versatile Gewürztraminer from it. Every year I am blown away.”

BEN THOMAS:  “Our vines grow primarily on wind-blown loess soils that resulted from the Missoula floods during the last ice age. These fine-particle soils create earthier, complex wines that have good structure and reasonably high acids. We don’t grow fruit bombs. Ours are wines that pair very well with a tremendous variety of foods.”

RT ™ Your white wine maker Stephen Webber flaunts his unabashed affinity for the cool varietals of Alsace. Your red wine maker Ben Thomas cut his chops on Bordeaux varietals, yet navigates the waters of Pinot Noir with skill. What’s it like coordinating with two wine makers, especially during crush?

RUDY MARCHESI: “Ben and Stephen work well together and have great respect for one another’s skills.  I think of myself as the conductor of the orchestra.  I don’t play an instrument but I know all the parts and step in when I see guidance is needed to get back on track.

Sometimes during the rush of harvest, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture and our goals for the vintage.  Part of my job is to maintain the big perspective, and help everyone stay on track.

As for style, we all agree that our first goal is to make wines that best express the character of our estate.  I let Ben and Stephen have creative license to achieve that in ways that they can do best.

During harvest I taste the wines daily and consult with our wine makers as needed.  It’s an arrangement that works well for us.”

BEN THOMAS:  “Stephen and I compliment each other quite well. In fact, having someone so solid and tradition-minded to work with side-by-side allows me to be a little bolder in my winemaking decisions. If I’m straying too far off the path, Stephen keeps me grounded. Likewise, I encourage Stephen to paint outside the lines at times – to go for something more ambitious.”

RT ™:  What are your greatest challenges at Montinore Estates?

RUDY MARCHESI:  “I see challenges on many fronts.  In the vineyard I have to deal with aging vines and the need to keep all the vineyards healthy and in balance from year to year.  The vines are alive, and we ask a lot from them, so they require a great degree of attention and care.

Here in Oregon,  we can have wide variations in the conditions form one vintage to the next.  There is no cookbook winemaking here!  We have to be observant and alert to the nature of the grapes that each vintage brings us, and apply our winemaking skills accordingly.

Then, of course, there is sales and marketing.  We need to make sure that our customers understand who we are, what we are doing, and how that is reflected in their glass of wine.  There are thousands of wines to chose from so constant attention is needed to effectively communicate to our customers.”

Ben Thomas:  “Driving to and from my house in Portland. I really can’t stand sitting in traffic. That’s why I have a trailer in the vineyard – for those longs days and nights of harvest. Plus, it’s simply fantastic to wake up to the sun rising across the vineyards. There’s nothing else quite like it.”

RT ™:  What motivates you to keep going?

RUDY MARCHESI:  “I love growing grapes and making wine.  I love growing plants and having the freedom to creatively make a delicious product from them.  I can’t think of any other way I would want to spend my time.”

BEN THOMAS:   “That very same sunrise. Oh yeah, and wine.”

RT ™:  Anything else you care to share?

RUDY MARCHESI:  “I feel so fortunate to have chosen this career and to have had it turn out so well.”

BEN THOMAS:  “It’s a rare opportunity that we have here to make wine a large estate encompassing such an intriguing range varietals, clones and micro-climates. My winemaking has improved in being able to focus on the subtle yet important distinctions between neighboring Pinot Noir vineyard blocks. It’s been a treat to get to know these vineyards year after year.”

RT ™:  One final question: “If wine making has taught me anything, it’s taught me…”


A great respect and appreciation for the beauty of life reflected in the annual cycle of grape growing, the magic of yeast and bacteria, and the complexity and beauty of the whole process of making wine from the ground up

Appreciation for the tradition of our craft.”

See what wine making has Montinore Estate owner and grape grower Rudy Marchesi, and red wine maker Ben Thomas in the video below…cheers!

Red Thread (TM) | Monitore Estate | Willamette Valley from binNotes on Vimeo.



More Red Thread™ interviews here.


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Thank you:

Team Montinore Estate:

Kristen Marchesi – General Manager

 Rudy Marchesi – Owner, Winegrower

Ben Thomas – Red Wine Maker

(Stephen Webber – White Wine Maker.)

Note: Trade samples were provided by the winery for this interview.

Red Thread™ | Penner-Ash Wine Cellars | Willamette Valley

binNotes | a food, wine & travel blog

Penner-Ash Wine Cellars | Yamhill – Carlton AVA | Willamette Valley

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

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Red Thread™ |  Penner-Ash Wine Cellars | Willamette Valley

First in a four-part series celebrating 50 Years of Willamette Valley winemaking history and Oregon Wine Month.


Quick – who holds Oregon’s title as first woman wine maker?

 If you answered Lynn Penner-Ash of Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, you are correct!

I first learned of wine industry pioneer Lynn Penner-Ash and Penner-Ash Wine Cellars while doing freelance features on the Willamette Valley  and Oregon’s !Salud¡ program a few years ago.

Her wines, her professionalism, and her generosity of spirit all left a deep impression.

So much so that I vowed to include her when rolling out the Red Thread™ wine maker series.

Here, binNotes make good on that promise with this interview, the first in a series showcasing Willamette Valley wine makers during

 Oregon Wine Month | May 2015.


RT ™:  Who or what brought you to wine making?

LPA: I originally wanted to be a botanist for the Smithsonian Institute.  I was advised by the curators there to head to UC Davis.  While at Davis I met a group of outdoor adventurers who were all native to Napa Valley.  Spending time with my new friends meant I was also spending time in Napa.  One summer I was offered a job working on the harvest deck of Domain Chandon and from there I changed my degree to Viticulture, spent a year working at Chateau St Jean and returned to UC Davis for the Enology degree.

RT ™:  Tell readers a bit about the history of Penner-Ash Wine Cellars. How did you make the‘leap of faith’ from working at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellar in Napa to Rex Hill Winery in Oregon?

LPA:  I’d been in the industry in Napa for almost eight (8) vintages, four (4) of which had been year round at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.  I wanted more experience and more responsibility but was not being offered the assistant winemaker’s job at Stag’s Leap.  When I applied for the job and was told I didn’t have enough experience, but was asked to help train the new assistant winemaker, I realized it was time to make my mark somewhere else.  As I was looking to move on, Paul Hart of Rex Hill called and asked if I’d be interested in a winemaking position in Oregon.  I interviewed with Paul, he offered me the job the same day and I moved North.  I was interested in an assistant winemaker’s position and instead found myself as a winemaker at 25 and the first woman winemaker hired in Oregon!  It was a huge leap of faith on Paul’s part and on mine.  The WV in the mid 80’s really didn’t have a huge support network like Napa did.  It was hard to find equipment.  I ordered most of our winemaking supplies from my past contacts in Napa.

RT ™:  What things did you learn in Bordeaux-steeped Napa that still resonate for you today as a wine maker in the Willamette Valley?

LPA:  I’ve always felt if you’ve got a solid background in winemaking it can be translated to any region.  The challenge is to learn that region and respect the place in your winemaking.  I’ve never been heavy handed and have tried to let our wines speak of the place.  When I was down in Napa it was at the time of the “heated” AVA discussions so I quickly learned that there are strong connections to where your fruit is grown and as a winemaker you don’t want to lose that sense of place.

RT ™:  Let’s talk terroir. Penner-Ash Wine Cellars draws from an abundance of quality sites within the Willamette and Rogue Valleys. Each site has specific flavor profiles. What informs your decisions each vintage when choosing what to pull from where?  Do you have a favorite site?

LPA:  I have sourced our fruit based on what it brings to our blends.  I love doing individual vineyard designates that let me honor each vineyard we work with but ultimately, I am trying to make our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir style consistent year in and year out.  I’ve focused on sites that I feel will do that for me.  Cooler sites, warmer sites, particular clones and rootstocks – it all plays into our decision when selecting a new site to purchase fruit from.  I have several sites that I love but my reasons are varied.  I have my favorite growers, my favorite blocks with in vineyard sites and favorite sites to visit as some sites will make you stop and enjoy the moment.  The correct answer here is of course, our ESTATE site is my favorite site….

RT ™:  In your experience, how much of your approach to wine making is science, and how much ‘art.’ 

LPA:  The science is important to know in the back ground but ultimately many of my winemaking decisions are made because the decision just feels right.  I’ve made many decisions while standing out in a vineyard tasting fruit that I hadn’t planned on picking.  From picking date to an experiment using Whole Clusters or changing the tank style or fermentation regime.  Emotionally something has changed my mind.  I think that’s the art and hard to explain side of wine.

b/N:  You not only make wine, but fulfill various executive roles within the wine industry, including past President and COO of Rex Hill, past Board member and President of IPNC, and current board member for Oregon Pinot Camp.  What drives you to engage so deeply in the Willamette Valley wine community? How do you manage it all?

LPA:  The collaborative spirit is alive in Oregon.  I enjoy working on boards with many of my dedicated peers.  The energy and ideas that we generate are always exciting and give me another creative outlet.  That said, I’ve spent many years on boards and am now excited to see the younger generation step up with new ideas and new energy.  I prefer now to help out on committees, act as a moderator but not with the commitment of boards.  The whole industry has benefitted from a lot of very committed winery owner’s and their passion on these boards – it’s now time for the next generation to give some time.  Besides, there are many adventures ahead for my husband and I now that our kids are grown.  I believe if you commit to working on a board it means you need to be there for the board meetings.  If I can’t wholly commit, I won’t serve.  Our plans to travel more means I wouldn’t be able to honor a board commitment in the way I feel necessary.

RT ™:  You also actively participate the annual ¡Salud! Barrel Auction, an auction that helps fund the Willamette Valley’s eponymous health care program for vineyard workers. Talk about what goes into your decision-making process when you choose your wine for the auction, and why this program matters to you.

LPA:  We taste every barrel in the winery.  There are several vineyards we think partner very well together and ¡Salud! allows us to put together these vineyards in a special cuvée.  We couldn’t do this in a larger volume so it is nice to be able to put together an extraordinarily special wine that is one of a kind.  We not only participate in ¡Salud! but hold 1-2 concerts each year that benefit ¡Salud! directly.  We are committed to ¡Salud! as our vineyard workers deserve basic health care.  Since many crews move between vineyards and don’t necessarily work “full-time” for one site, it makes it hard to offer benefits to these crews.  It is also difficult for these crews to make an appointment, take off work to get to this appointment so the mobile services are very important.  It is a way we can offer a health care benefit. ¡Salud! is also nice for our harvest crews that only come in for a short period of time, we’ve all benefitted from the mobile van stopping by the winery.  Our entire staff gets our flu shots each year.  It helps even our full time staff as something as simple as a flu shot can often mean having to take time off work.

RT ™:  What are your greatest challenges at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars?

LPA:  Compliance and tax laws.  We have to be experts in tax and compliance laws in all the places we ship our wine.  Many times the state regulators themselves can’t give us a clear answer and we are left trying to guess what the law means.  I’ve written checks to states for less than 50 cents to comply with a tax regulation.

b/N:  What motivates you to keep going?

LPA:  Walking into the winery when everything is quiet and I am the only one here.  It gives me personal moment to recognize how much we’ve accomplished and how perfect our winery is.  When our customers arrive and are so in awe of the wines, the winery and the vineyard, I understand as I am also in awe.

RT ™:  One final question: “If wine making has taught me anything, it’s taught me…”

LPA:  There is always more to learn. 


More Red Thread™ interviews here.

More about ¡Salud! here.


Care to share? Feel free to leave your comments below.

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Thank you:

Lynn Penner-Ash | Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

Burgundy’s Alternative Wine Auction | Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges

 binNotes | a wine blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Burgundy’s Alternative Wine Auction  | Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges

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In the shadow of Burgundy’s mega-watt Hospices de Beaune lies an alternative wine auction – the annual Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges.

Held each March, the Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges makes up for in attitude what it lacks in media attention. This year, the 54th Annual Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges takes place March 14th & 15th, 2015. Activities include a fitness-friendly semi-marathon, luxury chocolate festival, exclusive tastings and dinners, and a wine auction at Château du Clos de Vougeot. Proceeds benefit Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges and the ELA Foundation.

Every year, wine aficionados travel from throughout France, Europe and the United States to the Cote d’Or for a chance to wave their paddles over more than 100 barrels of premier and villages cuvées. While most proceeds fund the hospital, one barrel benefits a designated charity. Bidders employ the expertise of local negotiants to steward them through the process, from tasting, to auction, to élevage  the ‘raising up of the wine’ to final aging, bottling, unique auction labeling and shipping.

Each barrel roughly equals three hundred bottles, or approximately twenty-five cases of wine, important facts to consider when working out the logistics for final delivery of the finished wine. 

Founded in 1270 by the sisters if Hotel-Dieu in Beaune, Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges moved to its current site in 1633; remnants of the original structure remain. Originally built to care for lepers, over the years the hospital expanded to aid soldiers, respiratory patients and others in need. Currently, the 132-bed public health facility caters primarily to the elderly.

Throughout its benevolent history, grateful locals have donated to the Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges. The estate today comprises 12.4 hectares, including choice parcels from within the wine communes of Nuits-Saint-Georges, Primeaux-Prissey, Vosne-Romanée, and Gevrey-Chambertin. Planted mostly to pinot noir, the estate does include a few acres of chardonnay used to craft a small amount of premier cru white.

Moreover, the addition of an updated cuverie in 2002 ensures enhanced productivity methods and increased quality levels.

It’s no secret that as the price of Burgundy soars, more and more wine collectors consider Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges an attractive alternative to the pricier Hospices de Beaune wine auction. All the more reason to enjoy the fun – and wine – while Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges remains relatively obscure!

For more information:

The 54th Hospices Nuits-Saint-Georges wine auction happens March 14-15, 2015.

Care to share? Feel free to leave your comments below.

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Copyrighted binNotes 2015. All Rights Reserved.  All images courtesy Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges.

TGLF | Saint Vincent Tournante Wine Festival

Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.

by. L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

 binNotes latest feature in The Good Life France is out!

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Greeting, dear readers! You can read my latest feature on Burgundy’s St. Vincent Tournant in The Good Life France here.

Care to share? Feel free to leave your comments below…Santé!

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Copyrighted 2012-2015. All Rights Reserved. |  Images: Courtesy St. Vincente Tournante

SVT | Burgundy’s OTHER Famous Wine Festival

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by. L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

“Jamais en vain, toujours en vin.” (“Never in vain, always in wine.’)
-Motto of Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin

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You may know about Burgundy’s annual Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction held each November. Maybe even about the entire Trois Glorieuses, of which the auction is a part. But did you know about Burgundy’s OTHER famous wine festival – the St. Vincent Tournante?

Celebrated in late January each year, the festival honors the January 22nd feast day of St. Vincent, patron saint of wine.

Originally organized by medieval wine guilds under the Church’s aegis, the event eventually fell into obscurity. However, during the 1930’s, the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, or Brotherhood of the Knights of the Tastevin, revived the festival as a means of attracting attention to Burgundy and its wines.

It worked. Today, the event draws thousands of visitors to a carefully choreographed collaboration between the Confrérie, the Church, and local winemaking mutual aid societies. These brotherhoods offer assistance to local vignerons in times of need.

St. Vincent Tournante ‘revolves’ from village to village each year. While the hosting town varies, the ritual remains fixed: a sunrise procession led by the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, each brotherhood carrying banners and carved effigies to the Graves of the Fallen (originally honoring those fallen in World War I), then on to Mass, followed by a roast pig dinner and ceremony.

In 2015, Gilly-les-Citeaux | Vouget hosts ‘The Way of the Monks’ St. Vincent Tournante, marking 900 years of Cistercian wine making tradition in Burgundy with a walk from the castle of Gilly-les-Citeaux to the Cistercian Abbey of Clos de Vougeot.

Burgundy owes much to these industrious holy men. The monks considered wine making a spiritual endeavor, seeking to reveal God’s voice through soil, fruit, and wine – deeming pinot noir the most expressive conduit.

The Cistercians not only cleared the lands of Clos de Vougeot and other areas in Burgundy, but also tended the vineyards, erected stone fences (clos), and maintained meticulous records. Their records proved the bedrock to Burgundy’s codification of lieu dits and climats, as well as the inspiration for the more intangible concept of  terroir.

It’s no miracle that the monks of Clos de Vougeot turned Burgundy’s limestone into sublime wines. Passion, hard work, and a desire to give voice to the land – these traditions continue today.  St. Vincent Tournante offers a rare opportunity to share in this unique spirit of Burgundy.


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Copyrighted 2012-2015. All Rights Reserved. |  Images: Courtesy St. Vincente Tournante

Happy Holidays | Feliz Navidad | Joyeux Noel |

Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.

by. L.M. Archer,  FWS | Bourgogne ML

Happy Holidays!

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Holiday Greetings, dear readers worldwide!

A heartfelt thanks to all of the incredible wine makers and industry professionals who shared their stories with binNotes© | Red Thread™ in 2014:

binNotes takes a break to spend time with family through the holidays.

Join me back here after January 5, 2015 for more of The Red Thread™.


Care to share? Please leave your comment(s) below.

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