I love wine and I love France so what better than to combine the two with a stay at a Vineyard. We’re lucky that we have friends who own a vineyard just outside of Carcassonne called Domaine O’Vineyards.
Domaine O’Vineyards is in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
The winery is set in a stunning location just outside Carcassonne, although when you’re driving through all the houses you think you may be heading in the wrong direction. But you just need to carry on and it suddenly opens up into open countryside.
Liz and Joe who own O’Vineyards decided to buy a vineyard and start making their own wine back in 2004.
When they decided they wanted to own their own vineyard they were living in America, Joe was building high end houses and Liz was the queen of entertaining, but decided they wanted to move to France with their son Ryan. Liz is French Vietnamese, and Joe is American.
They finally found the vineyard just outside Carcassonne and decided to buy it. The vineyard had plenty of vines but no house or winery. Not to be deterred Joe designed and built the new house and winery himself.
They chose the vineyard as it had well established vines, the local grape-growing area allows for a balance between Atlantic and Mediterranean influences for Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah.
They made the move to France in 2004 with their son Ryan and started the task of learning how to make wine, they knew what they liked to drink but had no idea about actual winemaking.
O'Vineyards Bed and Breakfast
Once they had established their wine making, they were very quick learners and were soon producing excellent wine which is now served in the Michelin star restaurant, La Barbacane, in Carcassonne, they decided to diversify into bed a breakfast; although it is more like a small intimate boutique hotel.
The house has been designed with a huge open plan living area that serves as a tasting room and living area with a huge table for entertaining guests.
There are 4 double guest bedrooms. Joe isn’t a fan of small bedrooms, so you’ll find the bedrooms at O’Vineyards are large and open with some having wonderful views over the vines. The décor is an eclectic mix of French antiques with some modern touches.
Liz and Joe are also great art lovers and you’ll find wonderful pieces placed around the house including some wonderful paintings.
Eating at O'Vineyards
Liz and Joe are the perfect hosts, no sooner have you stepped out of the car a glass is offered, you’re rarely without a glass in hand when you visit O’Vineyards.
Liz loves to entertain and cook food for her guests and she is a wonderful cook. Being French Vietnamese brings a different dimension to her cooking. Dinner could be a starter of her wonderful Vietnamese spring rolls, which we taught me to make, followed by something traditionally French like local duck; and always some wonderful local cheese. What you can always be certain of is that it will be wonderful and there will be lots of it. Dinner is usually at least 4 courses paired with plenty of wine.
I couldn’t really talk about O’Vineyards without actually mentioning the wine. Predominantly Red but with one White wine the O’Chasan 2015 a popular, but underrated crisp dry wine of the Languedoc region.
The Red grape varieties that they grow in the vineyard are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah and they produce around 7 different wines.
The Stranger Stranger is 100% Merlot and has to be one of my favourites; and it even has my silhouette on the label which is cool; and it is a gorgeous wine.
A heavenly, aromatic bouquet, led by rich, intense dark fruits and freshly polished leather, with baked plums and raspberry rounding off an endearing array of scents. The palate is broad; black cherry, damson and vanilla, with mild aniseed and velvety milk chocolate on the finish, which itself is of extraordinary length. A texturally addictive and hugely masculine mouthfeel really make one appreciate the full-bodied presence of this wine. Rich, dense and oily in complexion, deep purple and opaque in colour.” – Miles Simmons. drinkmemag.com –
The Proprietors reserve is their premium wine, and this is what Tamlyn Currin, a writer at JancisRobinson.com has to say about it.
O’Vineyards, Proprietor’s Reserve 2006 Cabardès 16.5+ Drink 2010-2015
Six barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 barrels of Syrah and 12 barrels of Merlot. Fermented and aged in new French oak for 18-20 months.
A perfume that made me close my eyes, just to breathe it in. Sweet damson spiced dried fruit, figs and wet tea leaves. Rich and chocolatey, with plenty of dark plum tang and cinnamon. This tastes much more American than Languedoc – something that is more or less what I have noticed in all their wines. Very long. Velvety. Hedonistic. (TC) 13.5%
You can see a full list of O’Vineyards wines here O’Vineyards Wines
Winery and Vineyard Tours
Ryan and Joe are both very passionate about their winemaking and love to share their knowledge. Ryan has been working in America with Naked Wines for the past couple of years so Joe is left running O Vineyards with Liz.
Joe is very easy going which makes the winery tour a very relaxed but informative experience. Joe explains everything about how the wine is made, and you get to taste samples from the tanks and barrels and tour the vineyard.
Muse, the family dog likes nothing more than heading out with guests for a walk around the vines. There are lots of wild natural herbs and flowers that surround the vines (known as Garrigue) and when you’re out walking the smell is wonderful. It’s no wonder this influences the taste of the wines.
We’ve stayed at O’Vineyards a few times now and it’s always great to be able to get to see how the wine is made, we even had a go at blending some to see how it’s done.
Why you should visit
If you love good wine, great food and excellent company in a stunning location then you should definitely make a trip to O’Vineyards.
Not only is visiting O’Vineyards a great experience you can also visit nearby Carcassonne, I’ll tell you all about that another time.