We took a side trip to visit Linda's friends who own Chateau des Tourtes, a sprawling and gorgeous vineyard estate and winery situated in the heart of the Bordeaux region in southwest France.
We stayed at the estate of the Miller family - the product of a romantic story about an American man who met and fell in love with a French woman during a summer internship at a winery in the US. Darren Miller and Manu Raguenot married and moved back to France to work for Manu's parents at the vineyard in Bordeaux that her parents had owned and nurtured since the 1960's. Darren and Manu would soon buy all the vineyards from Manu's parents and build their own homestead on the estate where they now live with their 2 beautiful girls and Manu's parents.
They are among the most gracious and hospitable people I have ever met, and they let me have quality time among their vineyards to paint!
Manu gave us a comprehensive tour of Chateau des Tourtes. Wine making is a fascinating and nuanced art - the painstaking details involved from the growing of the vines in the soil to the harvest of the grapes and removal of their skins - the temperature, the fermentation, the distilling process - all combine to create a wine that has a story and a life of it's own. It is a process that is perfected over many years and generations, and has given me a deeper appreciation for this labor of love. I see many parallels between the discipline of wine making and my own discipline of painting. Great wine and great art never come without great risk, hard work, and humbling failures.
Manu was a great tour guide, shuttling us around the Bordeaux region to see beautiful Medieval hill towns and towns on the banks of the Gironde River. St. Emilion, Blaye, and Bourgh were among the highlights.
Betsy proclaimed this trip a "Ladies Lark'. Indeed it was - filled with sunlight, incredible landscapes, warm hospitality, great food and heartfelt wine.
All my thanks to Betsy and Linda for including me on their Ladies Lark!
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