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The siblings Caroline and Karl-Friedrich Scheufele are the proud owners of Château Monestier La Tour.

The Scheufele family is writing winemaking history at Château Monestier La Tour in France

The first mention of viticulture at Château de Monestier dates from 1792, when the property was bought by Pierre Bourdichon, the deputy crown prosecutor in Guadeloupe. The estate was in a pitiful state, however, and the vineyards were ruined. Even so, under the protection of its new owner, the estate expanded with the addition of several large smallholdings and a neighbouring property. Subsequently, the estate remained in the hands of various noble French families, who preserved the estate’s lands and vineyards. From 1925, one owner followed another. In 1971 the château was officially established as a winemaking property. Since 2012, the Scheufele family has picked up the torch and is delighted to be writing the next chapters in the winemaking history of Château Monestier La Tour.

Over the centuries, Château Monestier La Tour has seen history march by. It has known periods of prosperity and others that were more difficult. Recently, on the initiative of the previous owner, the house underwent major restoration and the vineyard was restructured. After the acquisition, the Scheufele family decided that the time had come to review and to add buildings for winemaking to the property, which were to be functional but would also maintain the spirit of the place. These were designed in a manner faithful to the spirit of the existing structures and linked to the winemaking cycle: grape reception, vinification room, barrel ageing cellar, bottle storage and sales area. “The important thing was to have a long-term vision, once the vineyard has been totally restructured and the pervading philosophy of biodynamics has reached cruising speed. Above all, the new premises are places of work in which safety and comfort of the employees is paramount.” Corinne Comme, Consultant

Architectural philosophy

“As for the making of a wine, which draws its uniqueness from the terroir, the character of the plots, the climate, the grape varieties … so the development of the project and the choice of forms and materials for the new buildings have been made quite simply with the ‘ingredients’ of the site. The aim was not to produce a “monument” that imposed itself, but rather an integration in the history of the existing building and the landscape. Neither was it a question of making a patchwork, but rather to set the project in the spirit of the place, in a logic of evolution that was its own, with its size and proportion. Thus, from the cellar building dating back to the 17th-18th century (according to ancient traces in the walls), the choice was made to organise the buildings around a courtyard that structures the space in a traditional arrangement, open to the path coming from the village, with closing pilasters forming a sheltered portico … On the side facing the château, the old wooden portico has been extended and envelopes the new gable end. The new cellars and vat room, harmonizing with the existing ones, are scarcely visible from the terrace. The technical area is protected by its orientation, behind the buildings and turned towards the vines. If the exterior envelope forms an addition to the old building, through its volumes and materials (façades in stone or lime plaster, tiled roofs), the interior meets functional needs with simplicity and efficiency, using the latest technical means.” Alain de La Ville, Estate Architect

The vat room

Adjoining the covered grape reception area, it comprises a series of tanks made of special stainless steel allowing easy cleaning and therefore a substantial saving of water. The 16 conical tanks of 98 hl and the 9 cylindrical tanks of 63 hl ensure maximum respect for the different vineyard plots: each tank corresponds to a single plot. This precision of information coming from the vinification reinforces the care taken in the vineyard and suggests possible further improvements of the vines in the future. Manual temperature control has been favoured over automatic so that vinification connects the terroir and the winemaker. The process forms a direct, natural relationship, without an intermediary, fully expressing the authenticity and sincerity of the wines, the place they come from and the people who make them.

The barrel cellar

Historically the barrel cellar was located in the outbuildings of the château itself, which required tedious transfers that were tiring for the wine and complicated for the team. Now, it is located in the immediate vicinity of the tanks, in the former vat room which has been totally renovated. It allows for calm ageing of our Monestier’s Côtes de Bergerac, in a privileged and temperature controlled area.

Bottle storage

Previously, storage and labelling of the bottles was subcontracted outside the château. Now, all these operations will be performed on site in dedicated premises, which are temperature controlled and also sized to integrate the future production of the vineyard when it has been completely restructured. This will give the Monestier team flexibility and enable the property to respond quickly to customer orders.

Adjoining premises

For greater working comfort, the adjoining premises have also been redesigned, including offices, a kitchen for the employees, a generous tasting room, as well as a herbarium and a room for the gardener. Visitors who wish to discover our range can now take advantage of a real, professional tasting room. With our biodynamic approach, a herbarium is required in order to dry and store the plants that we use to help the vine to be more resistant. The harvest of wild plants is supplemented by cultivation in the garden of the species that are not naturally present on the estate. We are particularly proud of the beams restored and installed by a local artisan and which marries perfectly with the old buildings. Several central themes are present throughout the construction of these buildings. These new premises must above all provide comfort and safety to our employees, yet also serenity in the workplace and personal fulfilment.

Philosophy and environment

Respect for the heritage has required the use or restoration of as much existing materials as possible, fitting in perfectly with the landscape of the region. Calling on small local artisans is our modest contribution to the sustainability of the local economic and social fabric. The preservation of nature and resources is a logical continuation of our organic and biodynamic commitment. Also, to avoid water wastage, we recover rain water for the biodynamic treatment of the vines and work in the cellars. We have opted for geothermal energy for temperature control of all three buildings. Thus, we put to use the constant temperature of the earth, allowing for substantial energy savings.

Specific garden for biodynamic treatments

In our philosophy of conversion to biodynamics, and for self-sufficiency, it was decided to create a “specific garden”. Biodynamics is based on the respect of cycles: there must be a time for the soil and roots (earth), a time for the leaf (water), a time for the flower (air) and a time for the fruit. Certain plants help us particularly in these transitions. Here are a few examples of plants we grow: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), which lives only to make a flower, and is useful at the time of flowering of the vine. Nettle and bramble, help for balancing the combination of terroir and grape variety: for example, a Cabernet Sauvignon planted on a cold terroir will ask for more warm plants. Horsetail, to compensate for the vagaries of the weather: for example, it helps us through its draining properties, to compensate for an excess of water.