Wine ‘follies’

Heritage

Château Saint-Martin-de-Graves: in the pure tradition of the wine folly

There are many remarkable chateaux dotted across Languedoc. Known as ‘follies’, these manor houses were built in the middle of the vineyards. Their architecture provides evidence of the wealth and past prosperity of the region’s wine merchants, for whom these mansions and their agricultural facilities were built in the 19th century. Most have been converted into guest accommodation and wineries like Château Saint-Martin-de-Graves near Pézenas, and they offer visits at affordable prices.

Chateaux aka ‘Follies’

Now owned by Roger Santa, former chairman of France Boissons and CEO of Heineken France, who bought the ‘folly’ at an auction by the candle hosted at the Béziers courthouse, Saint-Martin-de-Graves is enjoying a new lease of life in the wine industry. Twenty hectares of vines have been replanted, 9 of which are currently bearing. The cellar has been entirely rebuilt and produces two ranges of wines, one AOP Languedoc and the other IGP Pays d’Oc: Terre d’Aumes, in red, white and rosé. The wine has become famous and its success can largely be credited to the fans of Johnny Hallyday, who created the wine.

Château Saint-Martin-de-Graves offers guest accommodation – the former stables have been converted into a reception room for seminars and weddings. More recently, the farm buildings (the workers’ or grape-pickers’ houses) have been turned into 8 gîtes which are available for rent. As a privately-owned chateau, it is not open to the public, though the winery, cellar and grounds can be visited.

Languedoc’s follies draw their architectural inspiration from a wide variety of styles…

from neo-gothic to neo-medieval, neo-renaissance or neo-classical. They are pejoratively referred to as ‘châteaux pinardiers’, as a nod to their erstwhile wine merchant owners, particularly along the plains around Béziers where there are more than a hundred of them.

Château Saint-Martin-de-Graves, which was built in 1890 and once belonged to the Marquis de Graves, was originally surrounded by 300 hectares of vines. It has a particular claim to fame: it was here that the Petit pâté de Pézenas, a sweet and sour pastry speciality shaped like a coil, was created in the 18th century. Its invention is ascribed to the English cook of Lord Clives, Viceroy of the Indies, during a stay at the chateau.

Languedoc’s follies draw their architectural inspiration from a wide variety of styles…

from neo-gothic to neo-medieval, neo-renaissance or neo-classical. They are pejoratively referred to as ‘châteaux pinardiers’, as a nod to their erstwhile wine merchant owners, particularly along the plains around Béziers where there are more than a hundred of them.

Château Saint-Martin-de-Graves, which was built in 1890 and once belonged to the Marquis de Graves, was originally surrounded by 300 hectares of vines. It has a particular claim to fame: it was here that the Petit pâté de Pézenas, a sweet and sour pastry speciality shaped like a coil, was created in the 18th century. Its invention is ascribed to the English cook of Lord Clives, Viceroy of the Indies, during a stay at the chateau.

Now owned by Roger Santa, former chairman of France Boissons and CEO of Heineken France, who bought the ‘folly’ at an auction by the candle hosted at the Béziers courthouse, Saint-Martin-de-Graves is enjoying a new lease of life in the wine industry. Twenty hectares of vines have been replanted, 9 of which are currently bearing. The cellar has been entirely rebuilt and produces two ranges of wines, one AOP Languedoc and the other IGP Pays d’Oc: Terre d’Aumes, in red, white and rosé. The wine has become famous and its success can largely be credited to the fans of Johnny Hallyday, who created the wine.

Château Saint-Martin-de-Graves offers guest accommodation – the former stables have been converted into a reception room for seminars and weddings. More recently, the farm buildings (the workers’ or grape-pickers’ houses) have been turned into 8 gîtes which are available for rent. As a privately-owned chateau, it is not open to the public, though the winery, cellar and grounds can be visited.

C O N T A C T

Château Saint Martin de Graves
34120 PEZENAS
04 67 90 39 91
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