Smart Deals: Chateau Canet
I met Victoria Lemstra Bake and her husband, Floris, nearly a dozen years ago, in the wisteria-clad Burgundian town of Beaune. She was in charge of Butterfield & Robinson's European biking and hiking operations and he was working in the wine business.
Fast forward to 2009. The pair now own and operate Chateau Canet in Languedoc Roussillon, a working wine and olive domain in the southwest of France. They're located outside the aptly named town of Rustiques, east of Carcassonne (below).
There are 45 hectares of vineyards, predominately planted with Syrah and Chardonnay, surrounding the 19th century estate. There is indeed a fine chateau at the heart of the property and their wine is laudable: their 2007 Minervois Blanc won a gold medal in Paris. But better yet, there is a cluster of nine cottage, with names like Picholine, Merlot and Grenache (top). All of the cottages have kitchens, and they come in various sizes, sleeping anywhere from two to 10 guests. With the euro down, a quiet vacation in rural France hasn't been this achievable in years.
In the words of Victoria, "Our set up is truly family friendly, although it works equally well for wine lovers who dream of waking up to the sound of the harvest knowing that they can wander into a working cellar and taste the juice fresh from the press."
At Chateau Canet, there's also a swimming pool and tennis court. The idea is to relax, enjoy the rhythms of a proper working vineyard, and have a great base for sightseeing in the region. You can hire a mountain bike, arrange for Pilates lessons or a tennis coach. The hosts can organize a day of biking with a picnic lunch along the Canal de Midi or a wine blending course and guided tour of the vineyards.
The one bedroom Merlot starts at Euro 425 ($564) per week while the two-bedroom Grenache cottage sleeps four, with rates starting at Euro 525 ($696).
For more information, contact Chateau Canet.