Did you know? In Thonon, between walls with ears and wine that loosens tongues, visits to heritage sites are like nowhere else. Castles revisit history, wineries grow their crops, and the past speaks.
The castles revisit history, the vineyards display their cultures, and all the testimonies are from the time!
“Faire Ripaille”, on the vineyard side
“My name has nothing to do with the phrase ‘faire ripaille’, meaning to feast,” the vineyard points out. “It comes from ‘ripes’, the bushes that cover my land. But that was long ago. Before the Chasselas grapes took over 55 acres and made my name an AOC Protected Designation of Origin. Yet my reputation is not limited to this white with notes of citrus and toasted almonds, with a fruity nose, fresh on the palate. I also owe it to Le “Comte Rouge”, made from Pinot Noir, grown on 2.2 acres, and Les “Demoiselles du Château”, a more intimate Gamay rosé. But here I am babbling on when what you came here for was to taste.”
THE CASTLE LOOKS BACK ON ITS HISTORY
“I’ve been inhabited since ancient times, but I swear I don’t remember anything from that era,” confides the castle. “I do however recall the Savoy counts hunting in the XIIIth century, and the fasts with Amadeus VIII, the first Duke of Savoy and future Pope, who gave my land a seven-tower castle. Conceived as a religious retreat for powerful lords, I often had the chance to host high society. They’ve included famous writers, musicians, and manuscript illustrators, princes, kings, and even an emperor, who sampled Chef Chiquart’s recipes and Ripaille wine. I also remember General Dupas, creator of Evian, who came to rest from the Napoleonic wars and offered Ripaille wine to his brothers in arms. Then as the world modernised, I ended up neglected. Such a pity for a castle of my standing.
My rebirth, or should I say my “Burgenrenaissance” (an avant-garde architecture movement that combined different styles), I owe to the
Alsatian Frédéric Engel-Gros, owner of the DMC cottom mills and art lover. A total aesthetic reconstruction made me the estate that you’re visiting today, an audacious mix of medieval and Art Nouveau styles.”
THE ESTATE OF RIPAILLE, ITS CASTLE, ITS GARDENS, ITS CELLAR AND ITS VINEYARD The estate you are visiting today, amazing medieval style mixture
SAVOY WINES, ON THE WAY...
“What Ripaille wine does not say”, explains a grape varietal from Vignes du Paradis, “ is that the Chasselas, king of the grapes, is the same as the Swiss Fendant, so named because it splits and bursts when you press it. Grown in the soil of Crépy in Ballaison, I am of the same vintage. And although I do not have the same official designation, it’s only because I prefer the singsong names of the wines made from me: “Un p’tit coin de paradis”, “frais et éclatant”, “Un matin face au lac”. How poetic! “To each their own. Vinified without malo-lactic fermentation and aged in steel vats, I, the wine Savoie Cru Marin, am known for staying fresh and taut. Sommeliers describe my personality this way: The mouth is straight, without heaviness, fruity, and persistent. The characteristic nose reveals pear, peach, and white flower (hawthorn, acacia) notes. Yes, that’s me all right!”
A visit to Madame's little living room!
“I’m open to the public and am the largest still-natural site on the lakeside. With my largely-oak forest, my remarkable birdlife, and my arboretum, gardens, meadows, and vines. My buildings are open to you as well. You can browse the “Amadeus Room” with original, unique objects from the 14th and 15th centuries, my great terrace, and the medieval moat. Those nostalgic for the Belle Epoque and its carefree ways can find in my castle an exact reconstruction of an old kitchen, the matriarch’s living room, and a dining room, all in 1900 styles. Loyal to my welcoming roots, I also host seminars, weddings and other receptions, exhibits, music festivals, and the famed Salon du Livre. All chances for social gatherings. Is history repeating itself?”