Bien arrivee en France! From last week on, this Texpat (Texan expat) resides in Tournon sur Rhone, a town of 10,000 along the banks of the Rhone, situated in the beautiful department of Ardeche, in the Rhone-Alpes region of la belle France. Never heard of it? Are all of these words just a bunch of jibber-jabber that only makes sense to the author? No sweat, it might help to let you know that it’s also smack dab in the middle of the Northern Rhone Valley, and incidentally amongst the vineyards of St. Joseph, Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and the like. By now, all of this may be ringing a bell.
Technically speaking, Tournon is on the left bank of the Rhone, home to the well-respected St. Joseph appellation. Like all appellations in the Northern Rhone Valley, there are few varieties (cepages) which are permitted in the wines produced here: Syrah, Marsanne and Roussane. Does that mean that if I wanted to grow grapes in my garden and make wine to sell at the farmers market, I would only be allowed to grow these 3 grapes? No, not at all. I could make any wine from any grapes/fruit/flower petals/bark that I wanted under the terms that it was labeled correctly.
Brief half-ass lesson of the day: To be labeled under St. Joseph A.O.C. ( or any appellation), First, I would have to verify that my land was located within the boundaries of the St. Joseph A.O.C. and this means a lot of research and staring at topographical maps. (graduating from 8th grade earth science helps in this process). Then, I would have to go through a lot of red tape, which means learning the rules and regulations as far as viticultural (vineyard) and vinicultural (winery) practices go. A few more steps, beaucoup de bucks spent, sweat, cursing and blisters, repeat, and voila: your name here wine, St. Joseph A.O.C. In other words, glory. .
……at least that is the plan for me and Julien, my betrothed. Not only glory, but in addition, a greater sense of accomplishment, humility, and a living wage. I mention this because my fiance is an aspiring winemaker who owns a small vineyard in St. Joseph, and I imagine that in a few years, I will have a better idea of the entire process and will have to come back and re-edit today’s post. Until then, more posts to come, wine to be made, and milestones to be celebrated. Wish us luck!