GRIGNAN, LAND OF PROVENCE
Enjoy vineyards, olive groves and lavender fields...
The land of Grignan
Shines with the colours of Provence
From rolling hills and prairies you can admire the distant peaks and foothills of the Southern Alps (Montagne de la Lance, Mont Ventoux, les Dentelles de Montmirail…) Westwards, beyond the Rhône, you can enjoy a glimpse of the Ardèche mountains.
A land shining with the colours of Provence, where the dense vegetation of holm oak and box elder trees, juniper and broom jostle for space against the straight lines of the vines, and lavender and truffle fields.
Villages and powerful fortifications, built for defense on isolated promontories, first appeared in the Iron Age and then later on in feudal times. As Christianity spread its influence, settlements sprouted up in the lowlands, around abbeys and priories, creating Montjoyer and many other hamlets.
The stories to be told about the history of the area, the magnificent scenery, the fine flavors of the terroir and the unique hospitality all make the Pays de Grignan a visit not to be missed when on holiday in France.
The original Château de Grignan dates to the 11th century
The Grignan family became well established for the next century, but in 1239, ownership of Grignan passed to the Adhémar de Monteil family, and expansion of the castle began then, first becoming a mighty fortress. From this time the Adhémars rose in influence and power, from Barons to Dukes to Counts, and the castle grew correspondingly.
In 1559, Count Louis Adhémar died without an heir; his titles and possessions passed to his nephew, Gaspard de Castellane. The castle was eventually inherited by François de Castellane-Ornano-Adhémar de Monteil de Grignan.
The 16th-century Medieval castle was remodeled from 1545 to 1558 by Louis Adhémar. A century later, from 1668 to 1690, François de Castellane-Adhémar converted it from a fortress to a magnificent Renaissance palace.
The Château de Grignan was completely ruined in 1793, during the French Revolution. Early in the 20th century, Madame Fontaine spent her entire fortune restoring the castle to its former grandeur. The castle today is a restored national historical monument..
The Castle of Grignan offers a 360-degree view of the local countryside and village, along with an interior almost like that found at Versailles. The village of Grignan is typically provincial, soft red tiled roofs, small winding streets, open-air cafés, weekly markets, and tree-lined streets.
« Blue gold »
Lavender is more than a wild plant, and it was not an obvious choice in agriculture. It was developed because its commercial prospects for farmers with plenty of land.
Since Greek and Roman times, lavender has always been used for its virtues. A medicinal plant in the Middle Ages, it was most efficacious against the Plague.
Then, at the turn of the twentieth century, lavender took on a new form : 'Blue Gold'.
As the perfume industries in Grasse expanded, the demand for fragrant plants rose. Means of production improved and developed in scale. In the middle of the twentieth century, mechanization and an improvement in the very nature of the plants resulted in intensive farming. People were able to live entirely from lavender.
Things changed towards the end of the twentieth century. In a highly competitive market, farmers abandoned their crops. The landscape changed but so did the uses that lavender could be sold for. New niches appeared, as demand for services providing well-being grew. Businesses survived and projects carried out to improve its virtues.
Lavender and lavandin
Several species of lavender (genre lavandula) grow naturally in provence. Two of them are mainly grown as crops and transformed into a fine lavender.
Fine lavender grows naturally above 700 and 800 metros. It is robust enough to resist the climatic constraints of the dry mountains in Prvence. Most lavender is grown for essential oils. Perfumers and cosmetic manufacturers love it for its fresh and sharp scents. It is also made into small bouquets sold worldwide. Some is kept as confetti for local weddings.
The lavandin, which is more bulky and produces more, is mainly grown in the lowlands or on the plateaux no higher than 600 metros. It takes up more than 90%
A mushroom with a spellbound fragrance and an exquisite taste.
Highly prized in French cuisine, the truffle - known as "rabasse" in local dialect - is the only luxury product sold just as it was picked, coated in the rich soil of Provence, where 80% of French truffles are grown.
The truffle is a mushroom that grows below the soil. It requires a host tree, such as holm and white oaks in Provence, and is nourished by leaf litter.
Only four varieties have culinary value, the finest species being the "black diamond" or tuber melanosporum. The "melon" consists of a globular tubulous root whose black-purplish flesh is striated by fine white veins beneath a black outer skin.
Round and irregular, ranging in size from that of a wall nut to that of a large fist, it releases an exceptional, captivating fragrance well known to connoisseurs.
When the vines in our region were destroyed by phylloxera in 1885, people began planting truffle oaks.
Well-known and appreciated in Ancient times, it was ignored during the Middle Ages only to be presented before François 1er.
Still today, it remains a mystery, a passion, a pleasure in culinary art.
Several species picked in the countryside here.
According to Brillat Savarin, the tuber melanosporum is the 'black diamond of French cuisine'.
The 'melano' and the tuber brumale closely resemble each other and are picked from Novemebr to March.
The tuber azstivu or summer truffle is picked foam May to the end of August.
During the First World War, truffles were neglected and resulted in a spectacular fall in production (from 1600 tons from 1900 to 1960 down to 80 tons today).
Nowadays, 70% of national production comes from the Pays de Grignan and the land around Tricastin and the Enclave des Papes, making it the most important truffle region in Europe.
An AOC located right in the heart of the Rhône Valley.
The Phoenicians first started growing grapes here in the 5th century BC. The "Molard" farm, excavated near Donzère, is considered to be the largest Roman wine villa. The vineyards were of excellent quality until phylloxera destroyed them in 1885. They were neglected until 1965 when a few winegrowers undertook the building of several important estates the North of the AOC.
The Coteaux du Tricastin were awarded their AOC in 1973. Its designation was changed to Grignan Les Adhémar on 17th Novemebr 2010. The easterly vineyards, the Côtes du Rhone and Côtes du Rhône Villages have been included in this appellation.
The winegrowing estates covers 4,500 acres of terroir, in 21 communes, in the heart of the Rhône Valley, spreading across from Châteauneuf du Rhône near Montéliamr, to North of Saint Paul les Trois Chaâteaux in the south and to Grignan in the east.
Red wines comprise 70% of the appellation and they are made from the principal varieties of grenache, syrah, cinsault, carignan, mourvèdre and marselan. The white wines have been developed from the viognier, roussanne, marsanne, clairette, grenache blanc, bourboulenc varieties. Together with Rosé wines, they make up 30% of total production.
Grignan-les-Adhémar is a new wine-growing AOC in the Rhône Valley, and appropriately evokes both Grignan, the most touristic town in the area, and the noble Adhémar family who reigned for centuries over this fine region.
Our AOC is set right in the heart of the Rhône Valley, north of its southern vineyards and this location determines the quality of our wines, giving it a personal touch while at the same time binding North to South in our beautiful Rhône Valley.
The Olive Tree - the symbol of peace and quiet.
"Whoever has olives as part of their everyday diet will live as long as the sturdiest of joists." (French proverb)
Tanche Olives are only found in the south of the Drôme, in the Ouvèze valleys around Buis-les-Baronnies whereas Eygyes olives grow above all around Nyons and in the northern regions of the Vaucluse.
Pruning starts in March and is best done before the first flowers blossom towards the end of April. All through spring and summer, the orchards are closely inspected to stamp out the trees worst enemies - cochineal insects and bark coloring. Olives grow to their optimal size when still unripe towards the end of July. They are picked and preserved as summer or bitter olives. Black olives are picked in November when their green colour acquires hues of blue.
In Nyons, table olives have always been picked by hand thus awarding Tanche Olives with the AOC designation.
Once picked, the olives are sorted according to size and quality. The larger ones are preserved while the rest is crushed to make olive oil. On average, five kilos of olives will produce one litre of cooking and table olive oil.
The paste left over from crushed olives used to be placed in "scourtins", recipients resembling a large Basque beret. The scourtins were placed one on top of the other and then pressed until all the remaining virgin oil was extracted.
Olive oil as a medicine.
Both oil and leaves can be brewed or macerated to heal burns, sun burns and skin ulcers.
According to cardiologists and nutritionists, olive oil helps prevent card vascular diseases. This has been confirmed by supporting research. Bernard Jacotot, a well-known research scientist in this field, noted "Because it contains the right amount of fatty acids and is rich in anti-radicals, olive oil is a form of nourishment that certainly has beneficial and healing effects on the arteries, stomach and liver. It therefore enhances growth and increases life expectancy.