One week in early May, model Michele Ouellet and her mom, Melinda Kearney, embarked on a quest for knowledge in southern France. They are the ladies behind Lorenza Rosé, a California rosé label they launched together in their hometown of St. Helena in 2008, though neither of them had ever been to Provence—the place where their favorite wine was born. “We are a small piece of the rosé world,” Ouellet explains. “It was meaningful to me to visit the epicenter of what we do, to be in the heart of where they mastered this wine—it was like a journey to the motherland.”
Ouellet and Kearney decided to base themselves in Aix-en-Provence at the hotel Le Pigonnet and spent five days driving around to three key rosé wineries in the area: Domaines Ott, Château d’Esclans, and Domaine Tempier. During each visit, they skipped the multi-course food-and-wine pairings and the leisurely tastings to delve into the winemaking process and learn about the various techniques and treatments behind these established, highly respected wine labels. As Ouellet recalls, “Our trip was really about touring the state-of-the-art facilities. We were able to go into the winery and see the barrels and the tanks.” She adds, “At Château d’Esclans, where they make the Whispering Angel label, we learned so much about the use of a temperature exchange process and the benefits of optical grape sorting. It was pure rosé research.”
That’s not to say they didn’t indulge at all during their jaunt to France. “We didn’t really have any big, extravagant meals at the wineries,” Ouellet says. “There was a lot of driving around, so we would find a small roadside store along the way to buy a baguette and some fresh goat cheese and have it with the wine. It was pretty much heaven on earth, and it was just fun.” Properly schooled in the art of French rosé making, the mother-daughter vintner duo returned home with new ideas, new techniques, and a new thirst for the wine they’ve always known they love the most.
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