It’s the season for new life to sprout. Where better to enjoy the abundant nature than in the Southern French countryside? Especially when you can learn something new by doing a guided edible wild plants walk at the Domaine de la Conseillère. And, of course, the informative walk concludes with a tasting of the estate’s wines paired with edible herb bites. After all, we are in the land of fine wine and food!
Domaine de la Conseillère is a wine estate near Pézenas that has been in the same family for five generations. With no less than 25 hectares, the de Virieu family respect their land, and therefore sustainability has great importance to them. They have created an association, supported by volunteers, to try to make their wine estate more alive for visitors. The edible wild plants walk is an example of how the de Virieu family wants to involve people in their Domaine and the surrounding land.
As I moved from downtown Amsterdam to the French countryside, I have only been able to recognise wild asparagus until now. So, I was eager to learn more! Therefore, on a beautiful May day, our guide Alicia awaited my fellow plant hunters and me in the courtyard of the Domaine de la Conseillère. After a brief introduction, we started our short walk around the estate. Even though the walk itself was only 1.5 kilometres, it took us about two hours to complete. Just a few metres outside the gate of the estate, Alicia pointed out several comestible herbs. On just a small piece of land, we had already found about five different varieties! Continuing on our way, we discovered many more treasures that had to be tasted on the spot.
What I liked most about this walk is that it opened my eyes to the richness nature has to offer. If only you know where and what to look for. Under Alicia’s guidance, we found well-known plants like arugula, dandelions, poppies, and thistles. But we also discovered new ones, for which I only recall the French names. Returning to the estate, Alicia had three bites for us to taste that she’d prepared beforehand. They were all made with the same kind of plants that we had found during our little stroll. We started with a beautiful beignet of acacia flowers to accompany the estate’s white wine. The rosé was paired with a tasty and slightly stingy arugula pesto. And finally, the red wine went perfectly with a cake of the spinach-like ‘chénopode’ (goosefoot?). Next time when I’m doing my round through the vineyards with the family, I hope I can remember some of the things that I learned on this tour!