Farther Down the Road Less Traveled


Back on October 5, 2020 I shared the first part of my story highlighting of our ‘off the beaten path’ adventures on the Route Des Grands Crus in Burgundy and there is still more to talk about. If you would like to catch up or reread The Road Less Traveled-Going Off the Beaten Path on The Route Des Grands Crus in Burgundy-Part One you can find it here.

Château de La Rochepot

Château de La Rochepot

I ended the first part of this journey with the advice to follow those signs posted in brown as the Routes des Grand Crus follows the tertiary roads west of the N74, but even if you have to turn around to peruse down the road that you just past, do it. You never know what will be around the next corner, like a 12th-century feudal castle of neo-Gothic-Burgundian style, rebuilt in the 15th century! Château de La Rochepot.

Rounding the bend in the road my husband and I were surprised and extremely thrilled to see Château de La Rochepot sitting off in the distance. We were letting the road take us where it wanted us to go and on a beautiful sunny September day in Burgundy, it lead us to a castle. Unfortunately during the time that we were there, the castle was not open to visitors but that did not stop me from exploring the grounds and taking in all of the architectural elements of this majestic structure.

Château de La Rochepot is located in the commune of La Rochepot in the Côte-d’Or department, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France. It is a part of the canton of Arnay-le-Duc. The commune arrondissement is Beaune. The commune of La Rochepot is famous for its winemaking traditions. The primary cultivated grape varieties are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

This feudal castle of neo-Gothic-Burgundian style was built in 1180 on the ruins of a castle burnt down in the 11th century and belonged to seigneur de Montagu Alexander of Burgundy (1170-1205) who was the son of Hugh III, Duke of Burgundy.

Château de La Rochepot in September 2019 -This hillside castle is located on the D973 road between Beaune and Nolay on the way to Saisy.

Seigneur Régnier Pot (Chamberlain to the Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Bold and Knight of the Golden Fleece)having returned from the crusade in 1403, bought the castle, named Château de La Roche Nolay at the time of purchase. The castle was then renamed after himself and he transferred it to his son, seigneur Jacques Pot, who, in turn, transferred it to his son, seigneur Philippe Pot.

Marshal of France Anne de Montmorency became the owner of the castle in the 16th century, followed by Jean François Paul de Gondi, the Cardinal de Retz who inherited the castle in the 17th century. In 1644 Paul de Gondi sold it to the first President of the Parliament of Burgundy Pierre Legoux de la Berchère. It is documented that the last lord of the castle was Joseph Blancheton.

During the French Revolution in 1789, the castle was renamed Château de La Roche Fidèle, and declared a national asset. Soon afterwards it was partially destroyed by vandals and left unkept, the domain passed for 100+ years from hand to hand. In 1893, Cécile Carnot , the wife of Sadi Carnot, President of the Republic at the time purchased the ruins. Carnot offered the location as a gift to her eldest son, infantry colonel Sadi Carnot, who then for 26 years carried out a meticulous historical restoration in the spirit of the 15th century. Based on data from archives, the reconstruction was based on a complication of information obtained from archaeological excavations to ensure that the restoration was completed in full historical authenticity. Hundreds of local residents were involved in the construction work, many of whom were unemployed after the devastation that the epidemic of phylloxera caused in the area’s vineyards.

Recent History of Château de La Rochepot

Some parts of the Château de La Rochepot castle were acknowledged as regional historical monuments in 2013 and in 2014, the annex buildings, vineyards and the park were given the status of national monument.

The last owner of Château de La Rochepot who opened the castle up to tourists, Dmytro Malinovskiy, was arrested in October 2018 and the castle was seized by the French government. Europol had discovered that Malinovskiy had faked his own death in a car accident and fled Ukraine to escape charges in a complex case of international fraud and money laundering. French officials realized that something was amiss when suspicious transactions surrounding the purchase of the castle (for $3.5 million) began to surface.

The investigation lead to the arrest of the “the King of the Castle”, as Malinovskiy was referred to. The French government seized an estimated $4.6 million worth of jewels and property, including the château itself. The possessions confiscated included three unnamed pieces of art by Salvador Dali and a vintage Rolls Royce from Malinovskiy.

I didn’t know the recent history of the castle until after we returned home from France. The castle was deserted when we visited and although a website still stated its hours of operation, it looked like it had not been open for a while. However, we still enjoyed walking around the outer edges of the castle and taking photos of the amazing architecture. It is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area of Rochepot in the Côte d’Or, a nice excursion that can be combined with a visit to some vineyards in the region.

If you are curious what Château de la Rochepot looked like before it closed in October 2018 watch this video from Rick Steves’ Europe Travel Guide – Travel Bite.

A little Burgundy Grape History

Phillip II, Phillip the Bold

After seigneur Régnier Pot bought the castle in 1403, Pinot Noir grapes started being planted in its vicinity as decreed in application of the Decree of Philip the Bold of 1395.

On July 31,1395, Philip the Bold’s famous proclamation banning that most “disloyal variety”, Gamay, from the Côte d’Or. An early example of agricultural regulation related to wine quality this act had far-reaching consequences for Gamay in the region.

Gamay, is noted to have originated in the village of Gamay in the south of the Côte de Beaune (near St Aubin) before the 14th century.

History, Restoration and Photography Practice

All along the Route des Grands Crus you come across astonishing buildings that truly encompass the history of the region. Luckily on this trip I was the passenger and was free to look around while exploring each stretch of the Route. Driving through Fixin, I saw in the distance the vibrant tiles on a church’s bell tower steeple and I was instantly drawn to it.

Église Saint-Antoine de Fixey-During Restoration in September 2019.

A marvel of Romanesque architecture, the Church of St. Anthony of Fixey can be found on the Route des Grands Crus in the middle of a Burgundy vineyard in the commune of Fixin. Originally belonging to the Saint-Bénigne abbey in Dijon, since 1860 the commune is a fusion of two villages, Fixin and Fixey.

The location in 902, was marked with a Romanesque oratory and dedicated to Saint Antoine (Antoine the Great). This site over time grew into a church and today it is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) Romanesque building in the Dijon region.

Listed as a historic monument since May 2, 1912, the architecture with its lava roof and its bell tower in glazed Burgundy tile is hard to miss when driving through the village of Fixey.

Here is a photo of the church before it’s currant restoration. Visit this Website to see more images.

Photography Tip: Buildings like Église Saint-Antoine de Fixey are a great opportunity to take a mixture of vertical and horizontal photos as well as an array of wide and close up detailed shots. Not a typical tourist spot, locations such as this allow you the time and solitude to work on Architectural photography.

Photography Tip: If you are able to walk around the property of a historical building do so and with each circle move a little farther away, search for different perspectives and angles that will add to your photo collection. In the photo below the wall was at first just in the way, but by finding the right spot and selecting the right viewpoint level I was able to capture a original and historic part of this property along with that the restoration, the old and the new together in one photo.

Photography Tip: Take in the entire location with 360 degree shots. With the church to my left I faced the vineyard in front of me and was greeted with a beautiful view of the Bourgogne region.

Turn again to my right and I was able to capture another vineyard (below) that was getting ready to be harvested.

Moving one more turn what there is a view a vineyards and village homes as seen below. All three of these photos were taken without moving locations, each photo was captured by just standing in one position while turning in a complete circle.

If you really want to experience Burgundian wine culture and history to the fullest, you’ll have to get out into the countryside. Before leaving on this trip I had talked with a number of people about their travels to Burgundy and was amazed by how many of them said that they missed out on the countryside vineyards and cellars because they did not have access to a car.

Give yourself a chance to Get Lost in Burgundy

For three days we traveled the roads of Burgundy, paved roads, dirt roads, roads that were obviously only made for tractors, and roads that lead to vineyards and vistas that I never imagined we would see. During this road trip, not once did someone ask us what “I we were doing there”, or asked if we were lost.

The Burgundian countryside ranks among the most beautiful and varied landscapes in France. It is a place full of charming villages, elegant churches, castles, and vineyards at every turn.

Planning a trip to Burgundy then remember this, You’ve Made it to France and it is a time to embark on the journey you’ve always dreamed about. This should include getting away from the throngs of tourist crowds, trying something different, like a voyage of discovery through the Burgundy countryside and getting lost off the beaten path.

Dry Stone Huts

If you take a drive in the French countryside, in many areas, you will come across small dry stone wall huts. I had no idea what these huts were used for so I set out to do some research.

The dry stone huts were a generic designation much like a cabin.

Built entirely without mortar, a dry stone hut, is a rustic building, built constructed with local stones and used as a temporary shelter or as seasonal shelter for farmers in the 18th and 19th centuries. These stone huts were also used as a place to store tools, animals , and even the harvest, in a plot far from a farmer’s permanent home.

Dry stone huts exist in many different places in France, they are known as cadoles, cabanes, loges, bories, capitelles, masures or cahutes.

Dry stone huts come in many shapes, sizes and are found in varies locations. Relics of former times, dry stone huts found in the vineyards share a glimpse of when the winegrower’s lot was not an easy one. These rough and medieval-looking these shelters were also where vineyard laborers would escape the sun and have a bite to eat. They were also refuge from late drenching rainstorms and harsh weather in winter.

Back roads and off the beaten path side trips lead to the discovery of these historical structures.

Still need another reason to travel the Routes des Grand Crus by car? Think about all of the amazing photographs you will get of vines loaded with violet or golden grape clusters, especially during harvest.

In the short time we had to visit Burgundy, we barely scratched the surface in exploring the area and learning all the nuances of this region. Yet, I felt by the end of my three days there that we had experienced more than most people because we took the focus away from wine tasting and gave the countryside and landscape our full attention.

Wine Tasting at Château de Savigny-les-Beaune

I tend to believe that everything happens for a reason, this includes those unexpected and memorable chance encounters. While driving the Route des Grands Crus in September during harvest, we did find that most of the wine houses were closed for wine tastings. So, when we happened upon one that was open we quickly stopped to see if they were offering wine tasting. We almost drove past Chateau de Savigny but when we saw the castle set back from the road we couldn’t help but pull into the small parking lot and then we were amazed to see an ouvrir (open) sign.

Savigny-les-Beaune near Beaune, is a château that overlooks a beautiful estate of several hectares which houses, both fighter planes and vineyards.

Although we didn’t visit the museum at the château, what can I say we were there for the wine, it contains a treasure trove of aircraft, racing cars and motorcycles along with the impressive collection found on the grounds.

What made this stop and wine tasting memorable was the number of other Americans in the tasting room who like use where there because this winery was one of the few that was open on this particular day. Hearing us speak English one group quickly invited us to join there table and taste with them.

We then spent the next hour sipping wine, laughing and sharing our France travel stories. It was a fantastic experience and later that evening we ran into the same group of people on a sidewalk in Beaune as we walked to a restaurant for dinner. It was Serendipitous!

My best memory Chateau de Savigny was the delightful hospitality we received during our tasting that along with the fantastic company that we shared this fabulous wine tasting with.

I had my notebook and pen ready to take some notes during this wine tasting but the conversation was too good to miss by writing down tasting notes.

Now of course the wine was wonderful and we ended up purchasing some bottles to drink during the remainder of our trip and a bottle to bring home to remember this fantastic afternoon.

I hope that in some way I have inspired you to spend some time traveling off the beaten path and explore the countryside of Burgundy. This slow travel philosophy encourages you to slow down, absorb, appreciate, savor, and really hold on to some once in a life time travel experiences.

Images and content © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.

Wine Education-Giveaway

Giveaway is now CLOSED. Congratulations to Meridith and thank you all for entering.

“The joy of learning is as indispensable in study as breathing is in running.” -Simone Weil

Learning any subject or topic does not end once you graduate from school, it is a lifelong process. There are always new skills to learn and techniques for us to adopt. To live life to the fullest we must continually look for ways to improve our knowledge of the subjects that interest us the most. The more you learn, the more knowledge and ideas you can share with the people around you.

Challenge is the end result of true learning.” Leo Buscaglia

As I continue my Wine Education this year I want to share my excitement of learning more about American Wines (with a special emphasis on Washington and Oregon Wines). To do this I am giving away a $100 e-gift card to the Napa Valley Wine Academy so that you can sign up for your own wine education class or special program. I will also be sending the winner a copy of Journey Through Wine: An Atlas: 56 countries, 100 maps, 8000 years of history-by Adrien Grant Smith Bianchi and Oregon Wine: A Deep Rooted History by Scott Stursa.

  • To enter add your email to the subscription box on the right side (or towards the bottom on your phone) of this blog page (only legitimate email address will be entered). By subscribing you will receive notifications when new blog stories are posted.
  • Comment on this Giveaway Post. Learning is a never-ending journey and I’d love to hear what you are interested in learning more about this year.

It’s that simple! This giveaway will end on Saturday April 24, 2021 at 11:59 pm PST and the winner will be notified by email on April 25, 2021. If you already subscribe to Drink In Life (and live in the U.S.) leave a comment and you will be entered into the giveaway. The winner will be chosen from a random drawing of all the new and current blog subscriptions (who have also commented on the blog post). The E-Gift Card will be delivered to the email address provided and the books will be sent to the winners address supplied to Drink In Life Blog. “Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 21 years of age or older are eligible to enter.”

See below for a second giveaway on my Instagram page!

More about the Wine Education Prizes

Journey Through Wine: An Atlas

Welcome to your tour of the wine-growing world. This book goes back through time to retrace the grape’s conquest of the world, stopping in each wine-making country, from the oldest (Georgia) to the most recent (Poland), to discover wines past and present, while looking to future producers in places such as Tahiti and Sweden. The book also contains statistics and information on grape varieties, characteristics and terroirs. This large-scale publication, encompassing 56 countries, 100 maps and 8,000 years of wine history.

The atlas works on a spread-by-spread basis. For each region there is a large-scale, specially drawn map, an overview of the area’s history of wine production and a list of its main grape varieties, along with details of its world ranking in production volume, annual production, proportion of black and white grapes produced, month of the grape harvest, date of first viticulture (and which culture brought it) and suggestions of appellations to taste.

Oregon Wine: A Deep Rooted History

The history of winemaking in Oregon is steeped in legends so well known they’ve become gospel, but reality is even more fascinating. Discover the truth about who opened the state’s first commercial winery and the real origin of Willamette Valley’s famed Pinot Noir. Learn about Portland’s daring Italian Americans, who kept home wineries during Prohibition, and the flourishing agriculture that contributed to the popularity of fruit wine. From the nineteenth-century winemakers through the modern industry that now includes more than seven hundred wineries, places like HillCrest and The Eyrie have been serving Oregonians for a half century. Uncover the forgotten roots of Oregon wine with author Scott Stursa and raise a glass to its prosperous future.

A $100 E-Gift Card will be sent to the winner.

Napa Valley Wine Academy is America’s Premier Wine School™ based in Napa Valley California-Whether you want to learn about wine or spirits, for business or pleasure, our certification classes, workshops, and wine tastings there is a class for you. The academy combines the unparalleled knowledge and passion of their instructors, with a friendly, approachable style.

Instagram Giveaway

Giveaway on Instagram is now Closed.

Visit me on Instagram @drinkinnaturephotography where I am also giving away another prize package that includes a $100 E-Gift Card to Washington Winery Pearl and Stone Wine Co., a copy of Washington Wine and Food: A Cookbook by Julien Perry and two Drink In Nature logo stemless Riedel wine glasses. This giveaway closes on Saturday April 10, 2021 at 11:59 pm PST.

You can read more about Pearl and Stone Wine Co. on my previous post, The Snoqualmie Valley Wine Experience.

This is a separate giveaway. Instruction on how to enter the Instagram giveaway and the last day to enter can be found on the post. “Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 21 years of age or older are eligible to enter.”

This giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by any party other than Drink In Life Blog.

Images and content © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.

Mastrogiannis Distillery & Winery-Rosé For Cure

What words would you use to describe your mom? Beautiful, brilliant, caring, funny, giving? No matter how you describe your mom, she deserves to be celebrated. As Mother’s Day inches closer (it’s May 9th) now is the time to let your mom know how much you appreciate everything she does with a special gift. Even if she says “I already have everything I need” consider getting her a gift that equals her generosity, a Mother’s Day gift that will not only make her smile but one that gives back and helps others as well.

For the mom who likes to “wine” down and who is passionate about making the world a better place there is a Washington Rosé that can take care of both of those requests, Rosé for Cure from Mastrogiannis Distillery & Winery.

Every day thousands of children are diagnosed with illnesses and are fighting for their lives. As parents and small business owners, Ilias and Bojana Mastrogiannis knew that they had to do something to help the children and their families. Contemplating how to help Ilias and Bojana were inspired to start Rosé for Cure in July of 2020. Bojana told me, “During its inaugural release we came across a little girl named Sofija, who was battling a life-threatening disease. We decided to donate 100% of our wine sales to her family to help raise money for her medical treatment.”

The Mastrogiannis’ like to say that “Children are our future!”

Bojana shared, “This is one of the slogans that they started using with the belief that each child, especially those battling illness, deserves a chance in life. They should be able to grow up and have their dreams become a reality and some may even change the world!”

The outpouring of gratitude and the family’s relief for the support prompted them to extend the initiative and help more children. Rosé for Cure now donates 10% of every bottle sold directly to a sick child and their family with funds given out every six months. Keeping the needs of their families in mind, Rosé for Cure donates its proceeds directly to families with no strings attached or requirement for how the funds are allocated. Unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) are ideal as they allow for flexibility in accommodating the financial needs of families as they navigate illness.

“When we did our initial fundraiser we got a huge response and lots of support, and the momentum has only continued with Rosé for Cure. We are hopeful that by spreading the word about our cause we will succeed in supporting a lot of families.” -Bojana Mastrogiannis

To Cure A Rose

During the month of April 2021, the Mastrogiannis’ are donating 100% of their Rosé sales in addition to the $1,800 they have already raised to the ‘To Cure A Rose Foundation’. To Cure A Rose Foundation was started by Casey McPherson to help his 5 year old dauthger, Rose and other children who are battling a rare genetic disease called HNRNPH2. There is currently no cure for HNRNPH2, but Casey has connected with research scientists to help him find a cure for this disease.

HNRNPH2 is a rare genetic condition involving a gene on the X chromosome. It encodes the protein HNRNPH2 that helps gene messaging inside the cell, a function fundamental to brain development. Symptoms start soon after birth, and often worsen over time. Children with this disorder experience developmental delays, intellectual disability, autism symptoms, tone abnormalities and seizures. They struggle to connect to their parents and siblings, to attend school, to tolerate sounds and sensations of everyday life. They lack the words to communicate their feelings, and scream without stopping, unable to explain why. Many of these children degenerate over time and sadly some of the children die young.

The cost for this ground-breaking research is $4 million to work toward a treatment for Rose and other children like her who currently have no hope. To help raise the money needed you can purchase Rosé for Cure and they will donate 100% of the sales towards Rose’s Cure this month or if you would like to support directly you can make a donation to Rose’s Go Fund Me Page.

Giving back by purchasing a bottle of Rosé for Cure is simple, you buy a delicious Washington Rosé that you can give as a gift or enjoy yourself.

Photo Credit-Rosé for Cure

To date Rosé for Cure has donated $2840 and their hope is to continue to see this charity contribution increase over the coming years.

Rosé for Cure

Proudly made in Washington State, Rosé for Cure works with Washington grape growers based on their sustainable farming practices and the unique regions in which they grow their grapes. The 2019 Vintage showcases grapes sourced from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA in the Yakima Valley and is predominantly Syrah-based, blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and a splash of Pinot Gris. Current produced of Rosé for Cure is 160 cases but there are plans to increase this in the coming years.

Rosé for Cure’s key to sourcing for their Rosé is to ensure that it has low sulfites and a dry style in order to adhere to the type of wine that they like to drink in our family.

“Rosé For Cure is considered a dry style Rosé that shows off an attractive pale color of pink cotton candy and an intense nose bursting with aromas of white peach, juicy melon, delicious citrus and some floral, spicy and herbal notes. a well-balanced wine with lively mid-palate and a soft, round mouthfeel that lingers with notes of pink grapefruit and mixed berries. has aromas of white peach, melon and citrus. With floral and herbal notes, the rosé finishes with the taste of pink grapefruit and mixed berries.”

When I asked Bojana why they decide to start with a Rose’ as their ‘For Cure’ wine she shared;

“It was due to our first inaugural Rosé that we decided to use Rosé as our main wine to drive our cause. Rosé has become such a versatile wine–our family enjoys it year-round as it pairs great with a variety of food from spicy Indian dishes to a Greek Gyro!”

This purposeful gift will please any Mom on the receiving end, while also providing children and their parents a little much needed support.

Available on the Mastrogiannis Website, you can choose from:

  • 3 Bottles for $39
  • 6 Bottles for $78
  • 12 Bottles for $156

Rosé for Cure is available to ship to 39 states and they offer a $15 flat rate fee for both WA and out-of-state shipments. They ship directly from their winery for Washington State orders, for sales out-of-state, they have partnered with VinoShipper. All shipments come in a 100% recyclable package.

After a successful campaign with Rosé for Cure I asked Bojana what they are most excited about this year. “We are really excited to grow our Rosé for Cure cause as we believe it’s really an impactful way to give back using unconditional cash contributions for maximum impact to the family and child. We are also excited to release our first red wine and a very special grape brandy produced from a cool-climate grape sourced just outside the Puget Sound AVA.”

Mastrogiannis Distillery & Winery

Mastrogiannis Distillery’s motto for their business is the Greek word ‘Meraki.’ Meraki doesn’t have a direct translation into English but it can be roughly translated into the soul, creativity and love we put into everything we do, regardless of the task at hand. In their family they say “Meraki into everything we do,” which for the Mastrogiannis’ translates into high-quality, grape-based spirits and wine with a lot of soul and love!

Bojana and Ilias Mastrogiannis

Growing up in Greece where winemaking and distilliation is part of life, the idea to start a distillery and eventually a winery came to Ilias Mastrogiannis on a rainy Seattle day during a return commute from work on a bus. With winemaking equipment that he had inherited from his dad, llias initially set a simple goal, to make better wine than his dad. So, he begun with purchasing grapes and all the necessary equipment to make quality wine. Over the years llias’ hobby grew, and soon he began thinking about planting his own small block vineyard and making really good wine from both the families own grapes and purchased grapes.

Following this dream today Mastrogiannis makes Greek-Inspired Wine & Spirits using 100% grapes. Spirits and Wine with simple but quality ingredients that they would be proud to serve at their family table and recipes that pay tribute to their roots and family heritage. Mastrogiannis is proud to bring their original Greek recipe to the United States as well as being the only distillery that produces and bottles it here, in the U.S., using old school techniques and local ingredients with zero artificial flavors.

Mastrogiannis Rakomelo made with Grape Distillate, Washington Wildflower Honey, Grape Distillate, Ceylon Cinnamon, and Cloves. Available for $34.99

Mastrogiannis Rakomelo is a brandy liqueur that is derived from a grape distillate and infused with local Washington wildflower honey, real (Ceylon) cinnamon and a touch of cloves. The recipe comes from the island of Crete in Greece where Rakomelo is considered a staple. With just enough sweetness and balance from the spices of cinnamon and cloves, this extremely smooth brandy liqueur is a real crowd-pleasing drink that can be enjoyed all year round!

It is also wonderful to just sip alone, or on the rocks with a touch of soda and a twist of orange. For a summer treat try chilling it down and serve it over ice with a fresh orange peel!

Images and content © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.