Environ Communities is announcing plans to build a vine future at La Durantie in The Tarn department of Midi-Pyrénées in South West France. By reintroducing vines to the 15 hectare country club and chateau estate means that owners of the local French vernacular homes can make the idyllic notion of drinking their own Gaillac wine whilst sitting on the terrace of their holiday home a reality. La Durantie’s own Master of Wine, Andy Howard who is one of the World’s 300 Masters of Wine will be running wine courses and organising guided tours of the surrounding domains and owners will be invited to lease or buy their own rows of vines on the 1.3 hectare vineyard – giving them access to their own piece of French history.
Developer Tony Dowse, Founder of Environ Communities (UK) says: “When master planning La Durantie we wanted to be able to offer property owners the quintessential French dream of owning a vineyard home but without the maintenance hassle and substantial financial outlay. La Durantie is currently creating its own wine label and estimates that up to 15,000 bottles of wine per hectare will be produced in 3-5 years’ time. Owners will be able to have as much or as little involvement in the wine producing process as they wish as Durantie is partnering with a local vineyard to blend and produce the wine and we are very much looking forward to enjoying our first bottle.”
Gaillac is one of France’s premiere wine regions with the first vine plantation dating back to the Roman time. The town of Gaillac is just 10 kms from La Durantie and on 3rd – 4th August attracted wine-loving tourists and locals to its 35th Annual Wine Festival hosted at the Chateau Foucard. The popular celebration provides the opportunity to meet today’s winemakers as well as enjoy live music, displays, fireworks, dinner and dancing, as well as lots of wine tasting. Down the road at La Durantie, the same much loved L’Art de Vivre’ of Southern France including the local gastronomy and wine-tasting underlies the vision for the unique Country Club.
Within Durantie’s central agricultural buildings a multi-purpose hall with stage (‘Le Moyeau’) will be used for music, films, functions, events & courses. The grand salons and terraces of the chateau will be home to the Country Club and will comprise a formal drawing room and private meeting and dining rooms, a library, bistro-bar, barbecue terrace and gardens. It is here that residents, guests and local ‘members’ will come together during the day and into the evening to drink, dine and enjoy everything from courses and events to concerts. Other onsite facilities will include 20 metre indoor and outdoor swimming pools, state of the art spa, tennis courts, croquet lawn, pitch & putt and natural swimming lake etc. Environ Communities’ modern homes developments aim to achieve a true sense of that old fashioned notion of “community” and this is the reason they are called Environ Communities.
The Tarn region of south west France, on the same latitude as the Cote D’Azur, is almost undiscovered and takes you back to the ‘real France’, a warm and ancient region dotted with pretty stone farming villages and bustling towns, where vineyards spread out as far as the eye can see across unspoilt countryside.
Overlooking undulating vineyards and miles of dense oak forest, La Durantie will soon become home to 57 vernacular designed single and two storey one to five bedroom detached homes together with two styles of apartments with either 2 or 3 bedrooms. In-keeping with the local villages, homes will be arranged in small clusters of approximately six homes with private spaces and landscaped internal courtyards. Some homes will be stone faced and others will have the traditional render in soft hues bordered by local detailing in brick and stone. Terracotta roof tiles will enhance the mellow and traditional character of the scheme and a choice of furniture packages will enhance the chic French feel from within. Most homes will also have an ‘integrated’ private swimming pool set within the landscaped private gardens and the four apartments are clustered around a shared pool.
Andy Howard, Master of Wines
Andy Howard is one of the World’s 300 Masters of Wine and will be running courses on wine at Durantie. He worked for Marks & Spencers for over 32 years, the majority of that time as a buyer in the Food Division but latterly, before retiring this year, becoming wine buyer. He was responsible for Burgundy, Bordeaux, Loire, Italy, Chile, Argentina, North America, South Africa, England, Port, Sherry and Fine Wines –with an annual purchasing budget of over £50m
Andy with his wife Gill has had a second home in Gaillac for the past twelve years and made wine in South West France for six vintages from 1999 – 2004. This experience was invaluable for understanding the viticulture and vinification process and discovering the importance of the terroir. Invaluable knowledge for the planting of Durantie domaine and the forthcoming Durantie label.
He has chaired the judging for the SEVA (South Eastern Vineyards Association) for the past six years and also sits on the Plumpton College Curriculum Advisory Board with responsibility in particular for the vinery and vineyards. He judges Burgundy and Bordeaux wines at the annual Decanter awards. In 2010 he was made a Chevalier du Tastevin de Bourgogne.