Vintage Vendanges by Carole Rommene

Vintage Vendanges 1

Both my grandads were winemakers in a small village near Béziers, and as we were growing up, my sister and I were constantly fed stories of how things used to be done ‘in the old days’. Harvest seemed to hold particularly vivid emotions as we were told of hot arduous days of grape picking, then of long evenings relaxing with everyone around a table full of nice food and copious amounts of last year’s wine. I’m sure as the years passed, the excruciating back pains involved with bending down to the vines and carrying heavy buckets slowly evaporated to be replaced by the team spirit and the comradery in my Grandfathers’ memories.


I guess coming from a long line of wine producers, Fanette Fessy from Domaine Galus may have had a similar experience with her family because every year, together with husband Jean-Baptiste Paquet she tries to recreate the classic harvest of yesteryear. They have even set up a special association to raise awareness about the traditional way of harvesting vineyards. Fanette explains the reasons behind this: “Our aim was to bring people together around the tradition of hand picking and more generally around the culture of wine and wine tasting.”


Every year, they invite friends and family to their domain in Meynes (30) to harvest by hand their oldest vineyards for a day. Adults and children roam the rows of vine plants, bucket in one hand, pruning shears (or sécateurs) in the other until they fill the tractor. “It’s a really fun day for all generations,” she adds. “Children love the freedom of running around and adults relish the opportunity to do something different in a friendly atmosphere. It’s a good way to unwind and break the monotony of the daily routine.


"When the day is over, we all gather around a big table and share a well- deserved meal for which everyone has brought something. It’s a very friendly way of finishing what has generally been a tiring but enjoyable day."


An ideal background

Both from Burgundy, Fanette and Jean- Baptiste were immersed from a young age into the culture of wine. Fanette is the sixth generation of a family of wine growers and the daughter of a renowned wine merchant, whilst Jean-Baptiste has been working since he was a child with his father at his domain in South Burgundy. After studying wine growing and oenology, and following several stints in the industry, they finally took the plunge and made the crazy decision to buy a domain of their own when they were only in their mid-twenties.

In 2009, they chose to go organic in order to grow their wine the most natural way possible. Their land is mechanically ploughed and all their wines have the AB (Agriculture Biologique) label.


The estate

In Latin, galus means Gaul, as well as rooster. For Fanette and Jean-Baptiste, it was therefore an obvious name to proudly represent French wine. Together, they grow grapes in the Rhône valley in their domain, which in the old days used to be a pottery. In fact, as Fanette explains “when we farm the land, it’s not rare for us to find some old remains from the past.” The property spreads across 27 acres, stretching out around the cave coopérative of Pazac, between the villages of Meynes and Redessan. The terroir, which indicates the type of agricultural land, is made of big round pebbles called cailloutis silicieux, which naturally accumulate heat during the day and restitute it at night, thus favouring the grapes’ maturity. The wine varieties are mainly made up of Grenache and Syrah.


An international affair

Although the majority of Domaine Galus’ clientele is domestic, the two main export markets are the UK, primarily through the Wine Society organisation and Belgium, where wines are sold through independent retailers. Fanette also loves to go abroad to promote her wine, because she says she loves "travelling, discovering new countries, cultures and languages”. She also finds it fascinating to study “how lifestyles and consumption habits vary from one place to another."


Vintage Vendanges 2Art & Wine

Although not originally from this area, Fanette and Jean-Baptiste have totally embraced the local culture. For this reason, they have chosen local artist Romàn, famous for his ultra-feminine bullfighting silhouettes to illustrate their latest G. bottles. “Wine and bullfighting are part of the culture of our local terroir; Romàn, with the opulent simplicity of his paintings, was the perfect artist to illustrate our G. range and enhance its dark rich colour”, says Fanette.


When I ask Fanette what she likes so much about her trade, the answer comes from the heart: "Our job is our passion. When you love wine, it’s for life. It can be completely different from one year to the next or from one region to another. But one thing is for sure, wine is totally entwined in our culture.


"And best of all, it’s a topic that always fascinates people. At dinner parties, it’s always easier to talk about wine than mechanics!" Check it out next time you’re having friends round...


Fanette Fessy & Jean-Baptiste Paquet
Domaine Galus
Route de Redessan
30840 Meynes

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