As soon as you enter Domaine de Gavaisson, you get the feeling that this is a very well maintained wine estate. We were welcomed by Emmanuel, our guide. He mentioned that the property comprises in total 10 hectares, with 4 hectares planted with vines, 600 olives trees and the rest parkland. They have created 3 Biotopes (a habitat where plants and animals live in a controlled ecological environment), in the form of 3 ponds with reeds, frogs, fish and other wild life. The family decided that they would only make white wine as 4 hectares is not very much for a wine estate and most of the Domaines in the area were already producing rosé and red wine.
Mrs. Than, the owner, originally from Austria, loved the gardens of Kyoto in Japan and when she bought the property in 1992, decided she wanted to create something similar at Domaine de Gavaisson.
Many of the naturally growing shrubs on the Domaine like; Quercus ilex (Holm Oak), Viburnum tinus, Pittosporum tobira and Pistachia lentiscus were clipped into topiary, some of the taller trees were shaped into cloud trees and in addition some specimen trees were planted; Weeping Cedar (Cedrus atlantica "Glauca Pendula"), Magnolia grandiflora and Gleditsia.
Emmanuel led us around the garden. Our first stop was a pond, part of the biotope project, next we made our way to the "Source", where the water enters the estate. A long canal leads from the "Source" direction the house. Rare species of ducks, Kaki-Campbells, Bahama ducks, Hottentot teals were waddling or sitting near the canal. Next to the canal was a large meadow with a donkey and sheep.
The view towards the house from the duck pond was impressive. The drive to the house is lined with Cyprus trees. The house is a "Maison de Maître", faded yellow in colour. The Holm Oak next to the house is clipped into "clouds" Beautifully done.
We continued our walk behind the "Source" to the "Gavaisson River", a small stream. We cross it to walk into a narrow strip of Bamboo forest. All the Bamboos are Phyllostachys, green or yellow in colour. Unfortunately Emmanual did not know their name.
A bit further on we cross the river again and walk past a small waterfall which is named "le voile de mariée" (the Bride's veil) because it resembles a veil in the winter when the river is in full flow.
We made our way to the back of the house, passing at the side of the house a magnificent rockery. Large rocks are placed one below the other with in between topiary, a beautiful Fig tree and a Judas tree. A few white plumbagoes scramble up the rockery in addition to some white oleander. The colours are just green and white. The white of the rocks and the flowers, the green from the trees and shrubs.
We walk on and come first to a Roman aquaduct,
then onwards to the Tannery, presently being restored.
For a Tannery you need water. The water used to flow from the aquaduct into the Tannery. The plans are to restore the water flow. The same building was also used to press olives in season.
We continued to the vegetable garden. As everything on the estate, it was very neat. They have an innovative way of growing vegetables in metal baskets.
The greenhouse was immaculate.
Our last stop was wine tasting. We tried two types of wine, both made with the Rolle and Semillon grape, the first was quite dry, the second and more expensive one was delicious. The grapes were picked late "récolte tardive" which gives a special taste to the grapes.
Next it was lunch at Gerda's. The tables outside were beautifully laid out. Each of us was asked to bring a dish, either a quiche, chicken, salad, cheese, bread, wine or a dessert. All of it was quite delicious.
Gerda has recently had her garden redesigned by a friend, Henriette Rooymans.
After our meal Henriette gave a presentation about how the garden was changed, what were the objectives and the reasons behind the plants that were chosen. The garden has changed totally and has turned out very nice. We then went around the garden with Henriette.
Altogether it was a lovely day.
Photos: Gerda and Michèle