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Vegan Wines Travels Through France

Vegan Wines Travels Through France

At Vegan Wines, there is always a purpose behind our trips: To add another wine region, vintage year, or perhaps a different varietal to our portfolio so that we can continue diversifying. This particular trip to France was not only to revisit two of the winemakers we currently work with, but also to visit Champagne for the first time.  Our goal at Vegan Wines is to find excellent wines produced by dedicated winemakers, build an ongoing working relationship, and keep curating an extraordinary wine portfolio!

Our Visit to Champagne 

Why Champagne? The idea started after I attended one of Blaine Ashley’s events about two months ago and fell in love with one of her featured champagnes. Blaine is the founder of NY Champagne Week. At her event, I spoke with the importer of this fantastic wine and learned more about him, the winemaker, and the owner of the winery that makes it. After I found out that they work within the strict guidelines and standards required by Vegan Wines, I decided to visit France with hopes that all my questions would be answered and we could add a Champagne to our portfolio! So we landed in Paris, got in our rental car, and drove off to Champagne where we spent three days in search of true vegan Champagne. We arrived hungry, and just before checking into our Airbnb on our first day, we found the perfect restaurant for lunch! Not only did we eat very well, but we made a new friend while we were there. David, the owner of the restaurant, was kind enough to take us to visit three of his winemaking friends and so that we could taste their wines. It was a great experience, and it just so happens that we’ve added two of these wineries to our “research” list! During our visit to the region, we also got SUPER lucky and discovered a vegan-certified Champagne. After calling up the winery, they said we could come by for a visit, so we headed over. We met up with the founder, Alain, and his dog for a tour of the winery and vineyard. While we don’t want to reveal the name of the winery until the details are finalized, we’re eyeing some rosé and dry Champagnes from this vineyard for our portfolio! After a great day of exploring, tasting, conversation, we had dinner at Heera Indian Restaurant in Épernay – in case you’re looking for a vegan option in the area. Needless to say, we ate very well during our time in France! 

And on to Bordeaux!

After Champagne, we headed to Montagne-Saint-Émilion in the famed Bordeaux region to meet up with Pierre Bernault and Violène Lagarde at Château Beauséjour, one of our first and favorite French wineries in our collection. This is the magical place where our Petite Robe is produced! We first met Violène back in July 2017 on her second day working with Pierre at the Chateau. Violène is an amazing winemaker and photographer – her love for life can be felt and seen in both her wine and her photos.  On our first visit, Violène cooked for us a vegan feast! The combination of her own plant-based eating lifestyle and her talented hands made for a delicious dinner. This time, we had yet another evening of elegant wines and warm conversations. If you’re interested in the details, we enjoyed the 2012 and 2014 Petite Robe, along with the Charme 2014 and 2016. The most beautiful part about experiencing natural wines is being able to taste the differences in the years – no two are alike because every harvest is different! Pierre’s wines are truly top-notch. He is very proud of every bottle he produces and aims for perfection. For instance, the Petite Robe is not fined or filtered at all, and it ages at least five to seven years before it is bottled. We’re hoping to introduce one of his younger wines to the Vegan Wines portfolio in 2020, so stay tuned!  

 It was rainy and windy during our trip, but as of November 4th, all of this year’s harvest has been put into the barrels. Now, we wait patiently as nature starts to work its magic! On our most recent visit, we learned that Violène is leaving Bordeaux to move to Champagne with her partner. The good news is that Vegan Wines is hoping to import our first Champagnes in 2020 and we now have another friend to visit when we return to the region! These friendships are perhaps the best part of our work and our travels. After saying our goodbyes, we were off to another one of our old favorites, Château Les Maubats. We had yet another amazing visit with Christophe Cadis, the owner, grape grower, and winemaker here. We currently have his Bordeaux Superior Red available on our site (and you can even purchase it wholesale in California, New York, and New Jersey, if you’re interested). We just happened to arrive on the day that they were separating the sediments from the wine. The aromas of the grapes were amazingly beautiful, and we were able to see how the sediments were removed manually rather than using chemicals or animal products. Christophe is not only a talented winemaker; his vineyard also holds a High Environmental Value (HVE) certification. This is the highest of Europe’s three levels of environmental certification for farms, requiring the vineyard to preserve the environment by maintaining land that is full of life and biodiversity from the soil up. Our day together included a lovely meatless, vegan lunch with some of Christophe’s best friends from Belgium who are now living in France. We ate a meal prepared from produce grown in their garden at their home, an old barn they’d renovated into a cozy cottage. Everything we ate was made from scratch, including breadsticks, hummus, and chocolate cake. In fact, one of the men was curious about how a cake would turn out with no eggs or milk, but by the end of the meal, we all agreed that it wasn’t necessary – everything was delicious! Of course, the Chateau Les Maubats wines paired beautifully with every course of our lunch. I just love how Christophe's wines are always the life of the party! We also walked around outside and met the donkeys that they love so much. Their owners shared stories about how these spoiled donkeys act as their alarm clock because they wake up and want their breakfast early in the morning! The story of each of our wines is so important to us. We’ve chronicled our journeys about the people we meet along the way because we want you to enjoy our wines and know where they come from as well as who makes them. Even if you can’t be there with us, we love giving you a little insight into their backstories!

Where we stayed during our trip in Bordeaux:

In July 2017, we visited La Parenthèse Bed and Breakfast in La Réole. We met our lovely host Anne and during our breakfast of homemade jam and bread, we shared the purpose of our visit to France and the mission with Vegan Wines. Anne than contacted all her local winemaker friends, that’s how we originally met Christophe of Chateau Les Maubats. We returned to stay with her again during this trip and cannot recommend her lovely bed and breakfast enough!  During our visit to Chateau Beausejour, we stayed in this Airbnb and the host recommended three wineries which we visited – two of which we’re thinking of working with!

A few of the wineries we visited:

Château Majoureau for sweet wines. Cognac Du Frolet for cognac, rosé, and white wines. Pierre Bernault of Chateau Beausejour referred us to this winery in the Cognac region. The owner mainly produces cognac and a few wines. Château La Croix d'Armens is a very, very small family vineyard. Although it was pouring rain, we received a tour to learn all about their winemaking, which was 100% vegan. We’ll reveal the names of more wineries after we’ve finalized our partnerships!

Vegan-friendly restaurants we visited in France:

Bulldog Vegan in Paris Heera Indian Restaurant in Épernay L'envers Du Decors in Saint-Émilion Cafe Saigon in Saint Saint-Émilion

Would you like to take a winery-based trip through France?