Before the end of 2009, Brian and I took a group of students to visit Chateau Val Joanis in the Luberon Valley of Provence. This winery is where parts of the movie French Kiss, with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline, were filmed. This was a trip down memory lane for me, as Dominic and I were married in the gardens of Chateau Val Joanis a year and a half ago! The IAU (International American University) students were given a tour of the award-winning gardens, the barrel rooms, bottling room, and a private tasting of white, rose, and red wines in one of the outdoor courtyards. We had a very nice host from Val Joanis who spoke both English and French. This is one of the few wineries in France that Brian and I have found which offers tours. In the United States it is common for wineries to give tours of their facilities, but in France this is pretty rare.
On our tour we learned a fun celebrity fact about Chateau Val Joanis… In the spring of 2008, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were looking for an estate to lease in the South of France. One day at Val Joanis, there was an unannounced helicopter that landed right in the middle of the vineyards. Brad and Angelina got out and asked for a tasting. Overall, it was a typical wine tasting experience, except for the helicopter landing! They were nice to the staff and lovey-dovey as they walked through the gardens. Rumors quickly spread throughout the Luberon Valley saying that Brad and Angelina had inquired about buying the Chateau/winery and that the Chancel family, who has owned Val Joanis for years, said “NO!” If you want you can check out this website which has pictures of the French chateau called Chateau Miraval that the two of them actually ended up renting for a few months with their kids and a few staff members. You can also check out the Val Joanis website (they have an English version).