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03 October 2010

Vinolodge, camping it up in style

This original, sleep in the vineyards, wine tourism under the stars project, billed as "eco-friendly," is due to be launched next year. Your intrepid reporter went over to Domaine Virgile Joly, in Saint-Saturnin in the Languedoc highlands, to check it out in mid September, where they did a test-drive for these posh tents pitched in a secluded spot alongside his vines. The accommodation itself is surprisingly plush, with nice king-size bed, small "bathroom" with electric shower and proper toilet, fridge, aircon (for wimps) etc; and sturdy too with a parquet-type floor raised off the ground on stilts, being based on military-grade tent technology developed by Vinolodge's parent company. Each unit is also fitted out with right-on bits such as a water recycling system and solar power panels; the latter are sufficient for lighting, shower, plug sockets et al although not the aircon, which obviously isn't so eco-friendly. But you can see why it's there, when you could be spending some hot nights in July or August.
All in all, it looks like a fun and back-to-nature "concept" for wine enthusiasts with a few three-star luxuries: mind you, at €200 a night, there should be! This does include breakfast and a tutored wine tasting though, and there's a dining tent with on-site caterers for breakfast and dinner too depending on the package you'd go for. The idea is to erect these designer tents on demand in the vineyard from late spring to early autumn 2011, as part of a wine tour programme planned by Joly and other participating estates. They claim they don't damage the environment and are dismantled leaving no lasting trace. Vinolodges might well appeal to wineries looking to develop their tourism income that don't have the means or desire to build a permanent structure on the estate.
If successful, we could see vinolodges being "rolled out," as the marketing speak would have it, across the Languedoc and beyond... Notes on Domaine Virgile Joly and his wines here (goes to French Med Wine.com).
Photo by Claude Cruells.

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