Posts tagged Peter Mayle
Sun Sets On "Le Vin de Garage"

Sun Sets On "Le Vin de Garage" Sometimes the hardest part of a home remodel, is letting go of the old. Soon, it will be out with the old, and in with the new. It really is not that cut and dry. We have carefully thought this through, and tipped the scale in favor of our new barn.

In the above photo, is our revered garage named  "Le Vin de Garage," where until recently we made and stored our Domaine de Manion vintages. My husband, John, cleverly tweaked a photo of our "Le Vin de Garage" for our first label. It placed "Fourth Place" in "wine label category" at the San Diego County Fair a few years ago.

John got the "garage idea," one night, when we were watching the movie, A Good Year (Full-Screen Edition), based in Provence, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Russell Crowe in one of his only comedy roles. Based on the book, A Good Year, one of the many books written by Peter Mayle, the endearing plot revolves around a tasty mysterious boutique cult wine. These tasty cult wines called "garage wines" as mentioned in the movie, were from small vineyards, small productions, and often commanding super premium prices.

Our home was originally built in 1930, and we believe this stand alone garage was built a little later in the 1960's. It has to be close to 50 years old. A previous unknown owner took the time to enhance its character, with whales, waves, and crossed oars. If only our "Le Vin de Garage" could tell us some of its colorful stories of the past.

Alas, our garage has served us well over the last ten years, and it is sad to see it go. It does have termite damage from past neglect. When we have a heavy rain it does leak a bit. Now with our remodel plans, it is not in the best location.

Actually our "Le Vin de Garage," is not totally going away. We've decided to re-purpose its best materials in the form of a shed, close to our vineyard. In a way, it will live on, and continue to help us with our vineyard maintenance and vintages.

Our new barn is nearly finished. It has our new wine-making room on its ground floor, with a work counter for testing the wines, storage area for our equipment, and a harvest table. We really have come a long way, from the day we got the idea to plant a vineyard.

Please share if you make home-made wine? Please share how you got started making wine. Please comment on what kind of area or space you devote to making wine.

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Provence Markets "Spice Up Your Life"

Spice Vendor, Lourmarin Friday Market, Provence The photo above is of the lively Friday morning market in Lourmarin, also the village where famed English author, Peter Mayle, who wrote A Year in Provence and other novels, calls home.

One of my very favorite things to do when traveling is to frequent the local markets. As a matter of fact, I plan my itinerary around the flea markets, antique markets, fresh produce markets, bird markets, flower markets, etc. Markets are so colorful, and give you a real slice of local people, life, culture, and ambience. Markets are very lively and the vendors often very outgoing and playful types.

Markets are a way of life, especially in Provence, France. Locals shop frequently for fresh ingredients and produce, rather then once a week or every two weeks. The markets are held different days in different villages, and often specialize in certain items. Usually a guidebook, or articles on a particular market will divulge which "must have" items to seek out. Also, the month you are traveling may determine what is in season, and what to purchase. In Provence, cherries are a delectable treat in May, and lavender is in full bloom in July.

One of the "must have" items for me, are spices. I love to collect and buy spices whenever I travel. Each country has their cuisine and flavors, and what better way to relive your trip and experiences then making their local dishes and recipes, with local spices you have purchased there. Spices are easy to pack, and usually have a long shelf life. Spices are a small splurge, and a small effort to take home for memorable times long after your trip. They also make wonderful, reasonable gifts for loved ones, and especially for those who like to cook.

Produce is Elevated to Art Form

In Provence, its wonderful markets are brimming with Provence cheese, black olive tapenades, lavender honey, flowers, olive oils, wonderful hand-made sausage, local crafts, colorful Provence linens, hand-made pottery, delightful breads, and seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables. When you are here, take advantage of these incredible foods and flavors and experience Provence. You must pick up some famous "Herbes de Provence" which usually consists of dried thyme, basil, savory, fennel, and lavender.

Provence outdoor markets are a treat for all of your senses with colors, aromas, tastes, and people-watching. Some of my favorite markets in Provence are the Tuesday: Vaison-la Romaine, Thursday: Nyons, Saturday: Apt, Sunday: L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.

"Postcards From Provence"

Magic of Provence, Red Poppies Blooming in May I am not an expert on Provence, France, but I have studied, researched, and created two wonderful 2007 and 2008 spring itineraries that my husband, John, and I followed to experience the heart and soul of Provence. There is something so magical about Provence, it reaches to my very core. I snapped the above photo, roadside on an early Sunday morning, heading to the famous and fabulous L'lsle-sur-la-Sorgue antique market.

It is hard to pinpoint why Provence is so special. Is it the light that Van Gough would talk about and try and capture in his paintings? Is it the Roman influence of ancient engineering masterpieces, roads, and villages that survive to tell their story? Is it the legendary "mistral wind" that bellows through the famous Cote du Rhone valley? Is it the unspoiled rural countryside beauty? Is it the absolutely charming people full of rich tradition and culture? Is it the incredibly fresh and mouth-watering seasonal foods and time-proven wines? Is it the fact that you never know who you will run into at a cafe, or bump elbows with at an outdoor market? Ah, you will just have to go sometime and ponder these questions yourself. If you have been to Provence, and have some wonderful stories, please share.

Writing about a few things that makes Provence so magical a place is difficult. I could jot down a long detailed list, but prefer instead to share with you a few snapshots, that those fortunate to call Provence their home experience on a regular basis, if not daily.

Generally, my itineraries are "off the tourist beaten path", preferring to visit the lesser known special places, such as Edith Mezard's tiny linen and embroidery shop in Lumieres, the Abbaye St. Andre gardens across the river from the popular city, Avignon, or the little cheese shop, Lou Canesteou, in Vaison-la-Romaine, to name a few. Rick Steves' Provence and The French Riviera 2009 is a good guidebook for general information, tips, and proven itineraries for those wanting a starting point.

Some of my favorite books written about Provence, were the catalyst to visit this special part of France, and experience it first hand. If you can't get to Provence in the near future, perhaps you would like to begin by reading some of these wonderful books. For more information on these books, just "click" on their titles. A Good Year. A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France. A Year in Provence. Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France.

Please follow along with me for more snapshots of Provence.