Saint Vincent is the patron saint of wine growers. Each year on the St. Vincent's day there is a morning parade through town carrying his image that ends inside Lavardin's small Romanesque church. After the ceremonies are finished, there is a huge lunch with lots of great food and of course great wine. The whole party continues on until late in the night with eating and dancing and endless toasts to St. Vincent and his wine. This pretty neatly sums up what wine means here in France. It is spiritual and communal and a whole lot of fun. No one here worries about Parker's rankings and everyone is an expert. That's no joke. Most everyone in our sleepy village, be he a janitor or a CEO, has a wine cellar with thousands of bottles and a clear personal idea of what makes a great wine.

A person can learn much about wine here in France just by osmosis. The local and regional wines are perhaps not as well-known in the US as a Bordeaux or Champagne. But once you taste them, you will find yourself looking harder next time you shop to find their fresh and appealing tastes.

 A statue of St. Vincent holding grapes and surrounded
      by grape vines from the church in Lavardin, France.