Vignobles Bonfils, which has 17 chateaux and estates in France’s Occitania and four wine tourism sites, has officially opened the iconic Languedoc property which it bought in 2011. The new wine tourism complex has retained the showpiece 19th-century winery architecture and 62ha of vines but now has hotel rooms, a spa, two restaurants and 44 holiday homes partly buried in the hill.
There are eight rooms and suites in the heart of the castle, and a luxurious Cinq Monde Spa in the basement. There is also a large infinity pool for quests.
The gastronomic offer comprises:
- A gourmet restaurant, Mediterraneo (30 seats), with Lionel Giraud, a Michelin-starred chef in nearby Narbonne, mentoring Valère Diochet in the kitchen. The focus here is on locally produced meats, fish and vegetables.
- The Asado restaurant (85 seats), which opened its doors in the summer, is inspired by the Argentinian grill tradition. Dishes will be cooked on coals of vine shoots. The room is in the Belle Époque style with framed photos of stars on the walls, while the terrace offers stunning views of the lagoon and the Bages pond.
The €40m, three-year renovation project has been largely funded by private investors and the sale of 44 holiday homes which benefit from all the hotel amenities of Château Capitoul. The beautiful houses overlook the vineyards, ponds and large infinity pool.
“Via our subsidiary Domaines et Demeures, they are sold, 100% to foreigners, except a Frenchman living in New York,” states Laurent Bonfils, CEO of Vignobles Bonfils. “The buyers are passionate about wine tourism and the art of living in the south of France. They stay in this second home for a few weeks, or even a few months, and rent it the rest of the time, they are then our best ambassadors.”
His goal is to “make Languedoc a destination on par with Tuscany or Napa Valley”.
The toursThe wine tours have also been carefully thought through. Guided tours of the vineyard are offered: Tuesday by scooter, Thursday by foot, and Friday by mountain bike (all electrically assisted). Bicycles are also available free to hotel guests. Two trails, accessible to all, crisscross the vineyards of Grenache noir and blanc, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Cinsault.
There are also plans to add masterclasses with great chefs and tasting workshops, and to host business seminars and private events.
This wine tourism model is already proving successful at two of the family-owned group’s other properties in Languedoc, Château Les Carrasses and Saint-Pierre-de-Serjac in the Hérault.
According to a statement by the company: “The new wine tourism complex encapsulates the family’s values, advocating conviviality, pleasure and luxury, local and sustainable principles. Its aim is to share its inherent vinous character from the vine to the glass.”
The 93ha estate, which also encompasses garrigue, olive groves, and the grounds, is nestled amidst the unspoilt countryside in Languedoc’s largest national park and Natura 2000 area. “Everything has been designed to protect the environment sustainably using eco-friendly practices, one of the pillars of which is protecting water resources. Around the edges of the vineyards, a dry-stone wall habitat has been built for ocellated lizards. Bats have not been forgotten either. For the Bonfils family, sustainability also implies making younger generations mindful of the environment,” the statement continues.
The re-opening of Château Capitoul coincides with a complete overhaul and redesign of the wine range. Under the La Clape appellation, the range boasts six reds and five whites along with three Languedoc rosés.
The group has 1,600ha of vines and gained its HVE certification in 2019.
Here are some photos of the rooms
There has been so much interest in the furniture and furnishings used at Château Les Carrasses and Château St Pierre de Serjac – and now Château Capitoul – that a special website has been set up to sell them. Sourced in Ireland, Indonesia and France, the range includes low-maintenance, weatherproof, hand-woven rattan furniture (tables, chairs, loungers, etc) in French grey with garden parasols, and interior staples such as divans, mattresses and duvets, as well as lighting, art and antiques.
This side of the business is run by Irish couple Karl O’Hanlon and Anita Forte.