Posted: 2009-08-29

Chad’s Birthday

For Chad’s birthday on August 20th, we took a day off from our WWOOF responsibilities to celebrate.  Yay, Chad!  We started the day with our typical breakfast of bread and jam, yogurt, fruit, and tea/coffee.  Then we went wine-tasting with our hosts, André and Patricia.

Our breakfast - those fresh figs were huge, as big as my fist!

In France, there are vineyard operations which grow grapes and then make their own wine on the premises. However, there are also small vineyards which have land to grow their own grapes but which do not have facilities to make the wine.  These vineyards bring their grapes to the local co-op, and then the co-op makes and sells the wine.  The first place we visited on our wine tour was a wine co-op. 

Here’s the wine co-op we visited which is called Les Vignerons de Taradeau

Chad and I tasted some rosé wines while Patricia and André bought some boxed wines.  What?  Did I just say “boxed wine?”  Why, yes, I did.  In France, it is common for people to buy wine in bulk, because they drink it every day at lunch and dinner.  Like I have said in previous posts, they do not drink a bunch of wine to get drunk.  They just have a small glass or two with the meal, just enough to compliment the food.  Because they drink wine every day, it is more economical to buy it in bulk.  The box wine is vacuum-packed, so you can fill a glass for yourself or fill a carafe/bottle for the table, and the wine in the box stays good for a long time.  Plus, unlike the United States, box wine in France tastes good!

In France, it’s typical to serve bulk wine for lunch or dinner - you just fill an empty wine bottle from the box, and then set it on the table

The second place we visited was called Château Ste-Rosaline.  It is a private vineyard where the owners are art collectors.  This vineyard reminded me of a typical Napa Valley vineyard - beautifully grapevines in a small valley, a big tasting-room building right off the road, a long tasting counter with a few types of wines (white, rosé, red) available for tasting.  We tried a few - some we liked, some we didn’t.  We had brought sandwiches for a picnic, so we found a spot next to the vineyards for lunch.

Patricia made “pan bagnat” sandwiches with tomatoes, peppers, onions, olives, hard-boiled eggs, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper - these are typical in Provence - yum! - Can you see my giant round sandwich on the blanket next to the bottle of water?

Here’s the entrance to the tasting room

I love this sculpture of a swimmer in the fountain out front

This sculpture has a man with a little, tiny head drinking out of a giant bucket

After lunch, we visited a chapel on the grounds which is dedicated to Saint Rosaline de Velleneuve.  It turns out that Ste-Rosaline is still in the chapel, preserved as a mummy in a glass box.  There were also some beautiful modern mosaics, stained glass, and a nice wooden alter in the chapel. 

Here is the body of Saint Rosaline preserved as a mummy - yes, this is an actual dead woman - we don’t have this in the United States

This mosaic in the chapel was done by Marc Chagall in 1975, it is called “Le Repas des Anges” (The Meal of the Angels) - Dad, I took this Chagall photo for you!

Here’s a stained glass window in the chapel done by an artist named Ubec in 1970

The alter is carved out of wood and then decorated with gold

In a close-up of the alter, the Virgin Mary is swooning as Jesus is lowered from the cross

We had one final wine-tasting stop.  This last vineyard sold their own wine but also other bottles.  We tasted a few wines and then bought some bottles.  What was interesting for me at this place was that you could ask about any wine in the place, and the tasting host would grab a bottle and open it for you to have a taste.  We weren’t limited to the wines at the tasting counter.  The other great thing about this vineyard was the prices.  There was a menu of wines selling between 5 and 7 euros.  You would never find these prices in Napa Valley.

Here is the price list of the tasting menu in the winery

Chad and Patricia at the tasting counter

At the end of the day, our hosts had a special birthday dinner for Chad.  Patricia’s daughter Virginie drove 45 minutes from her home in Grasse to join us for the meal.  André even designed and printed a special menu for the dinner.

Dinner included pork with mustard sauce, cooked figs, and green beans

All in all, we had a great day.  A wonderful French breakfast.  Wine-tasting and picnic in Provence.  A delicious dinner with our new friends.  Happy birthday to Chad!

-Julia Abbott



Pork, green beans, figs! Some of my favorite foods. Looks like you had a delicious birthday, Chad.


What a great way to spend your birthday, one you won't forget. Love the swimming sculpture. The food looks yummy and I am sure the wine tasting hit the spot.


I recognized the Chagall as I scrolled down through your journal entry. Isn't it remarkable that no matter the medium - mosaic, stained glass, painting - it is all identifiable as Chagall - colors, "visions," compositions. Thanks for the photo. The food looks yummy, also. Wish I could do that. Probably one needs fresh figs. We're just coming into wild persimmon season in the Ozarks. Not many figs.

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