Provencal travelers invariably return home and describe sunshine, lavender everywhere, fields of bright yellow broom shrubs, and bottomless pitchers of pink wine. Idyllic accounts never hint at how the weather in the South of France can test the mettle of the most resilient wine grower.
No one understands that better than Raimond de Villeneuve of Chateau de Roquefort (his domaine just happens to have the same name as the famous cheese, which is not made in Provence). On July 1, 2012, a violent hailstorm brought sheets of ice crashing down on his family’s 62 acres of vines. In just seven minutes, he lost not only that year’s harvest, but his vines’ ability to produce at capacity for the next year. In a display of solidarity, friends from neighboring estates stepped forward, donating grapes or must from their own vineyards.