I have been in France for a number of days.  I am returning to places that are familiar as I stayed in these same places last fall.  Europe must sprinkle some naïve dust on my head because I made the arrogant assumption that everything would be exactly as I left it……waiting for my return.  Although it has been only six months the changes are startling.  Mostly in people’s lives as they are marching forward, growing their homes, businesses, families.  And perhaps some of the naivety is really just a refection of my own life where my surroundings, people, have stayed the same.  Some subtle changes can be seen in the country side as well where roads are repaved, safety barriers are up where there were none before, new houses being built. It is a treat to begin to know the area well enough such that these changes can be noticed.

But, the point I am trying to make here with the conversation about all of the changes….I was out of internet access for over a week!  It was weird.  These were places that had WIFI before and for one reason or another there was no access this trip.  On one hand I hated it and on the other it was very freeing.   Yikes, no facebook, no email, no twitter, and in my case not even a mobile.  Other than not being able to let David know that I had arrived safe and sound it was not much of a personal hardship, but for business it is immobilizing.

The days in Maury were spent working on vineyard selection, blends, and business arrangements for the future.  Frankly, this is damn hard.  The language is less of a barrier as my French is always improving but the business climate is restrictive and bureaucratic (I believe that the French invented this concept!).  The laws rarely make sense (to me, an American that is) in that they continually inhibit one’s ability to do business, but on the other hand if one understands that some fee or tax is to be levied, then it all becomes clear.  Find a way to add a charge to every act of commerce and you have the rule.

Having said that, the K2 project is well underway.  Oh yes, K2.  I have used this label from time to time for special projects and this project is a great candidate.  The KEEGAN CELLARS label will be reserved for wines that I make myself.  K2 will act somewhat like a negociant label.  The first K2 bottling will be from Roussillon.  There are many details to finalize and until they are final I will wait to reveal them.  Nothing like retractions and rewrites to frustrate everyone.  Most importantly it appears that I have found a solid partner.

The weather my first week was perfect.  Mornings were chilly and the right time to head out for a walk.  I soon recognized my fellow walkers, all men with little to do.  Those who did have something to do were in their gardens toiling tirelessly to bring tasty fruits and vegetables to the dining table.  And as always, the women had more than enough to do.  The afternoons were warm and breezy.  One such lovely day I headed out to the famous French landmark, the Château de Quéribus.  I had made an effort to visit this monument of high altitude living last fall, but that day was socked in with fog.  I started up the winding road until I could not see five feet in front of me.  I knew that to the right of me was a drop of no return and rather than take that “flight” I turned around.  After driving up there this trip I know how wise a decision that was.  Remember those guard rails I mentioned earlier?  Well, that crew has not made it to Roussillon!

A lengthy walk uphill to the castle was heart pumping, and well….ruins are ruins. I returned to my auto and started down the “back” side of the hill.  I was now in Corbières, Department of Aude, heading for the quaint village (I know, aren’t they all?) of Cucugnan.

Château de Quéribus

The next castle is Château de Peyrepertuse.  Again, an interesting ruin and reminder of the need to have one’s home as high up as possible so there was plenty of time to see the aggressor heading toward you.  Although visiting a couple of castles was the “reason” for the trip what took my by complete surprise were the unbelievable number of wildflowers.  I think I stopped taking photos after 45-50 different lovely delicate flowers.  I hope that there is a book with all of this abundance of beauty.  For now here are a couple of teasers:

And Finally, Château de Peyrepertuse