When Claude Chappe, one of the inventors of the revolutionary optical telegraph, placed one of his first signal towers on the plateau of La Crau in the southern Rhône Valley around 1793, he had no idea that this tower would one day carry his signals all over the world - at least symbolically speaking.
Nearby, in the village of Bédarrides in the south-eastern part of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOP region, the Vieux Télégraphe winery was founded in 1891.
The people behind Vieux Télégraphe
Also in 1891, Henri Brunier, the founder of the estate gave land on the Plateau La Crau to his son Hippolyte. The soil was considered unsuitable for winegrowing because of the high density of pebbles. However, grapes were already grown here in the 14th century, so Hippolyte planted the first vines of what would later become the famous winery in La Crau.
His son Jules expanded the area under cultivation to 42 acres (approx. 10.5 ha) and named his wines and the winery Domaine Vieux Télégraphe, in reference to the old telegraph tower.
The Second World War was not without consequences. The fourth generation, also a Henri Brunier, had to rebuild the estate. He eventually even expanded it to 136 ha, created the classic Vieux Télégraphe style and sold the wines to all the major markets of the world.
Since the early 1980s, his two sons Frédéric and Daniel have been the fifth generation to run the family business. The sixth generation is also already in the business with Nicolas, Édouard and Manon, the children of the two brothers.
As far as Lebanon
Today, they cultivate 247 ha in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOP region and 49.5 ha in Vaucluse and Ventoux.
It remains a challenge to cultivate vines on the poor soils of La Crau, not to mention the large day-night temperature fluctuations and a moody mistral. The family relies on Grenache, the core of the Vieux Télégraphe, plus Mourvèdre and Syrah, among others. The vines are about 70 years old and are cultivated organically and sustainably, producing the classic prestige wines that are now sold worldwide.
In 1989, the family also acquired shares in the Domaine Les Pallières in the AOP Gigondas with over 62 ha of vineyards and in the same year, also in cooperation, founded its first vineyard in Lebanon, Massaya, with 123 ha of vines.