Mellecey Wine Group Tour
Travelling for work! Who doesn't want that? I used to do it more often in previous years as a sports photographer. Once I started focusing on food photography, the travelling slowed down — most of the photoshoots started being in studio or at local restaurants — all in a small area around the city.
It was a pleasant surprise to discover that I can still travel for work, go to places with a camera in hand ready to discover faraway treasures. That was the opportunity that Cyndi Grossman from Mellecey Wine Group offered me in March 2018. Which also happened to land on my 32nd birthday.
The Mellecey Wine Group started as a passion project and became a "passion business." Cyndi is a sommelier, and along with her team, she offers a wide variety of services all related to wine. From private tastings to training, cellar management, consultations and wine tours. That last one is what got us to this post. In 2018, Cyndi organized her first corporate wine tour with destination: France, where we would visit some of her favourite wineries and world-class restaurants, learn about producers, artisans and winemakers, and go to the home of the wines she imports as part of her wine list.
The plan was to travel to Paris, jump into a van, go on a road trip across valleys, mountains and fields, and set base in Beaune, Burgundy for a week. The adventure would include seven staff members and over 20 guests from The London Club. The first two days included walking around town and capturing some of the beauty of French architecture; brick streets, aged wooden doors, colourful signs, stone walls and majestic cathedrals. The cute little town was nostalgic and beautiful.
On the third day, all the guests arrived at La Terre D'Or, a dreamy bed and breakfast owned and operated by Jean-Louis, Christine, Vincent and his family, located at the top of a hill with a 360˚ view of the town down below. The next stop was a wine tasting and a 3-hour feast at the Domaine Lucien Jacob Cellar, followed by a walk on their vineyards, a sparkling reception and a family style dinner.
Subsequent days included non-stop sessions of wine tastings and storytelling with the winemakers themselves, including Domaine Machard de Gramont, Domaine Drouhin Laroze, Chassagne-Montrachet and Domaine Albert Boillot. A traditional Burgundian lunch at Le Cellier Volnaysten, a truffle workshop with Claire de Truffes, and a fun morning learning how to handcraft a wine barrel at Art du Tonneau. A memorable dining experience at the 3 Michelin starred restaurant, Maison Lameloise, a visit to the most expensive land in the world, Romane Conti, and the unforgettable Banée de Meursault gala. The famous wine gala is a private event held in the cellars of Château de Meursault, where each year there's a big celebration where all the winemakers in the area connect with other wine lovers, exchange wines and get inspired for the year to come.
It was time to go back home, with our hearts full and the SD card on my camera bloating with images from the trip. I can't speak for others, but for me, the highlight of the trip was the local people. There's something magical about artisans and people who work with their hands, the winemakers' stories were incredibly inspiring, and even when they produce some of the best wines in the region, there was something humble and down to Earth about them that stole my heart. I've never been a big wine drinker, but in times like this, it was a must to try what top quality wines taste like. The other game changers were the baguettes, artisanal cheeses and Dijon mustard. I always find the most joy in the simple things!
It was a great experience in a world that I'm not entirely familiar with, but as usual, you can't go wrong with a farm-to-table experience, especially when you're meeting the makers. Once you create those relationships and taste the difference, you will never support "mass-produced" ever again, in wine, food, and everything else.