The first thing I noticed about Vincent were the grape stains on his hands. As an employee of Les Vignerons Parisiens, Vincent is one of a small group responsible for the only wine that is produced on site in Paris. I had read before my visit that Les Vignerons Parisiens was a labor of love, but seeing those purple finger tips convinced me that this was not just a marketing slogan. As he guided me through the space, it was clear that this establishment is the result of people whose collective passion and expertise accounts for every part of the winemaking process. It is a welcome addition to the global trend of locally produced food in major cities and is well worth visiting even for those with little knowledge of wine.
Les Vignerons Parisiens sources organic grapes from the Rhône Valley grown in biodynamic agricultural methods. From these carefully chosen vineyards, the grapes make the one-day, 500-kilometer journey to Paris in a refrigerated truck. Vincent stressed that the refrigeration is key to keeping the grapes in the proper state for pressing. After being pressed in full view of the busy Parisian streets just a few feet away, the fermentation process is begun in large vats and then piped down into a basement to be stored in 600 liter barrels until the wine is ready to be bottled. You can even hear the wine fermenting, a constant low carbonation buzz, if you put your ear near the top opening of the barrels. This part takes anywhere from 10 days to three weeks. Vincent also showed me a filtration system that is sometimes used based upon the taste of the final product. This is all done in one open and airy yet efficient storefront (with a basement for the barrels) in the heart of Paris.
Vincent explained that the vineyard was chosen because there were certain grapes they were eager to use. His preference is for lighter less alcoholic wines and the grape choices reflect that. Their current selection is derived entirely from 2015, the first year of production. The wines include those made from Grenache grapes, both a red and a white, Cinsaut, as well as a Shiraz. There is also a blended white wine of Viognier, Roussanne, and the white Grenache.
Each wine is stellar, all with an emphasis on lightness and acidity. It should also be noted that even the names of the wines have been chosen to emphasize the spirit in which they were made. The white Grenache is called “An 508” in reference to the first year Paris became the capital of France. When what is now Paris was under Roman rule in the first early part of the first millennium it was known as Lutèce, which is also the name of the white wine blend. In typically Parisian fashion, Les Vignerons Parisiens has incorporated a sense of history into a very modern endeavor.
Surprisingly Paris is a latecomer to the trend of on site winemaking. Vincent informed me that Brooklyn, San Francisco, and London all had similar businesses open up before Les Vignerons. He noted that although there is a vineyard in Montmartre, it is too expensive to scale production of the wine. His impressive knowledge of the history wine was also clear as he explained that as late as the 1950s wine was brought into the city via the Seine and distributed from the boat to buyers. It’s that kind of thoroughness with regards to wine that makes one confident that the wine coming from Les Vignerons Parisiens will only get better.
The space is available for tours, wine tastings, or private events. Located right by the Arts et Métiers metro stop, it is more than worth a visit. In addition to the tours and tastings, there is also a full calendar of wine courses (like “Cépages & Terroirs : quels liens ?”) priced at 59€.
Les Vignerons Parisiens, 55 rue de Turbigo, 75003 Paris. Tel: +33 (0) 1 44 93 72 97.