The latest from Zig Zag Rd

Feb 21, 2024

Our new life at a charming French village winery

I’m trying to run up a hill (or truthfully, plodding; it’s steep) on the outskirts of the pretty South of France village Felines-Minervois, and as I stop and turn to head back down, I let out a gasp of delight. It has been overcast since we arrived here a few days ago and I hadn’t begun to appreciate the exact location of our new home. The Pyrenees, snow-capped and towering jaggedly spread themselves audaciously across the horizon, and stacked in the foreground are purple-hued foothills, as if one vast mountain range wasn’t enough. Then there’s a patchwork of low stone walls, the tinkle of a goat bell and a small, rather wild but stunning vineyard of which, somehow, we are now the stewards.

And so it is here in Felines-Minervois, a vibrant and small community-focused village in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, that we are now trying to call home.

I say trying because we feel the hope emerging in our chests that we will become part of this charming and welcoming community, we sense the adventure, the immersive learnings of this next chapter, but of course that’s not a day-to-day feeling and right now we just arrived. Metaphorically, literally and spiritually. In every sense my partner Henry and I, and our two young sons, are new.

And we feel a little daunted, truth be told. Home is Zig Zag Rd. just outside Malmsbury (perhaps perversely as neither of us are originally from Australia). We have said our tearful au-revoirs to our wonderful friends and Macedon community, and perhaps ten years ago I’d have been nothing but excited. But now we have children to think about (starting school in the village next week), two businesses to develop and sustain and are adjusting to returning to square one in terms of support and friendship.

And before you ask, no, our French is not that good. Duolingo Language app will make a fortune out of us, and we will have to lean on the generosity of the community and fortify our hearts with daily courage to slowly overcome the added challenge of language to this decision.

But this is something that we need to do; something deep inside just says so. Move to Europe for a while, be closer to family for the children to know their kin and for us to support parents in declining health. But we are trying to keep Zig Zag Rd. wines, vineyard, cellar door and beautiful accommodations going.

Most people look at us askance when we say we are trying to keep Zig Zag Rd. and make wine here in France too. But there we have it. We just couldn’t walk away from those Australian 50-year-old estate vines so full of character and so we are running a ‘sister’ vineyard of sorts. Also at altitude, also vines planted in the 70’s (and 60s’), and similar in acreage.

Watch this space as we plan to bring some of the delicate wines of Laliviniere out to sell at our cellar door along with our Zig Zag rd. estate wines.

Henry is up there in the hills now, on one of the vineyard plots. He’s just pruned his very first of many vines (we are behind where we should be, having arrived around Christmas). The first vine pruned and shaped by hand into what we hope will be a good vintage, to mark the start of a new year and a new chapter.
We’d love for you to follow our story as we make many mistakes and hopefully friends and great wine.

Henry Churchill pruning vines Charming French Village