Eloïse Massot & Jean‑Luc Monteil, winegrowers at "Domaine des Bergeries" in Haute‑Provence

It’s Spring 2021 and the first batch of “Domaine des Bergeries de Haute-Provence” wine has just been bottled! A genuine feat for Eloïse Massot and Jean-Luc Monteil, at the helm of this beautiful vineyard complete with two luxury self-catering gites, nestling in the foothills of Lure mountain, at the crossroads to Provence and the Southern Alps. The man-and-wife team told us all about their magnificent project and the places that inspire them in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

How did your project to revive a vineyard between Provence and the Southern Alps come to life?

We’d been mulling over the idea for a long time! We were looking for the ideal place to bring it to life. It had to be somewhere that would take global warming into account – where we could plant our vines at an altitude of at least 500 metres.

We literally fell in love with this cluster of 4 ramshackle old sheepfolds the first time we visited it. What an amazing memory! We both said “That’s it! We’ve found the perfect place!”. The ancient Popes of Avignon were no fools – they absolutely loved wines from Les Mées, the famous rock formations set facing our vineyard.

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Vines and wines… A family affair? Tell us more.

Jean-Luc is from Manosque and passionate about the wine world. During his hospitality and sommelier studies, he took part in a variety of competitions (he was two-times finalist in the Concours Ruinart French sommelier challenge). He also pioneered the first wine fairs held by the Carrefour group and worked for the prestigious Nicolas group in Paris. In short, he’s mad about wine!

Eloïse was born in Burgundy, so she was immersed in the wine world from a tender age. Her family loves wine and would always crack open a bottle of the best at family reunions. To her, wine is synonymous with togetherness and sharing.

So it’s really no surprise that our shared passion united us around this amazing project. Emma, our 5 year-old daughter, is also part of the adventure. She loves welcoming guests who come to stay at the vineyard!

In what way does the region – and especially your area – inspire you?

We’re really very lucky to live in the Alpes de Haute-Provence area! A lot of people travel through, but few truly get to know it. The natural environment here is preserved and protected, which is a great plus for our wines and other local productions. The local inhabitants are authentic, genuine and sincere. Life is good in the Alpes de Haute-Provence, you really feel on top of the world here! We love introducing our guests to these stunning landscapes – many for the very first time. They are always thrilled!

What are your Top 3 favourite spots in Haute-Provence?

–  Sisteron: we love its majestic citadel – now a listed monument –, little arched passageways typical of Provence and Rocher de la Baume rock, with its characteristic vertical strips of limestone. The site is reputed worldwide and geologists consider it a genuine curiosity. It’s always a pleasure to stroll round Sisteron. It’s a history-packed town located just 20 minutes from Domaine des Bergeries, and lots of tourists go there in summer. It’s nickname is the “Pearl of Haute-Provence” and it wears it well!

Les Mées: this protected site is also a real geological curiosity. The village of Les Mées owes its fame to its narrow rocks, thrusting over 100 metres up into the air. We actually call them the Penitents because of their evocative silhouette. Legend tells that they are monks from Lure mountain, petrified by Saint Donat during the Saracen invasions as a punishment for falling in love with the beautiful young Moorish women brought back by a local Lord from one of the crusades. Wherever the truth lies, we never get tired of the view from our vineyard!

The history-packed village of Lurs, the former summer residence of the Bishops of Sisteron and now an official “Village of Character”. It’s perched on a rocky outcrop and the views over the Southern Alps and Luberon are breathtaking. We love exploring its steep little lanes and wandering around its stone houses, medieval church, clocktower and adorable little open-air theatre…

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If you had to sum up Haute-Provence in one word?

Irresistible!

 

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