the intriguing history of La Verrière
The Millenial History of La Verrière
For more than 1000 years people have been living on the land at La Verrière, and several pavilions still standing date back to the 9th century. The property has changed hands only a few times throughout its rich and intriguing history.
Gods, Romans and Knights
The Vaucluse region was settled in pre-Christian times by Celtic-Ligurian pilgrims. It is believed they came to worship Vintur, the bull god, who gave his name to the nearby mountain, Mont Ventoux.
The area was also well-known to the Romans, who founded the neighbouring town of Vaison-le-Romaine, which grew into an important administrative and agricultural capital, as well as a spa and leisure retreat for wealthy and powerful Romans, such as emperor Hadrien. The former head of the charming Museum of Archaeology in Vaison believes the site of our property hosted an oppidum from which the Romans controlled the local Celtic tribes, eventually forcing them to surrender.
Prof. Charlie Schmidt, an erudite and beloved local historian who published extensive and detailed research on the area, painstakingly retraced the history of our estate. In Medieval times, La Verrière was predominantly a priory, a dependency of the nearby Abbaye de Prebayon, and hosted Knights Templar at the height of their power in the 12th century. They had outposts throughout this part of southern France and were entrusted with the protection of travelling Crusaders heading to Marseille.
La Verrière was also a place of pilgrimage for people arriving from the Vatican, convinced that the spring on the property had miraculous qualities to help cure blindness. Even today these springs appear on Vatican maps, and they help inspire our mission to make La Verrière a place to heal and recover from life’s challenges.
How La Verrière Got its Name
Previously known as La Regardette, presumably because of its breathtaking views of the valley of Vaison, the property was re-baptised La Verrière in 1427 when Aliot de Montvin, a nobleman who had secured a prestigious and lucrative glass blowing licence from the Bishop of Vaison, moved there with his mobile furnaces to exploit the furnaces. He then changed the name to La Verrière, which is the French term for a glass blowing workshop.
The team at La Verrière are always at hand to share their knowledge of the region and its nature. Sylvian and Jean-Paul are treasure troves of historical information and welcome any questions you may have.
The Rebirth of La Verrière
The estate was passed down through many generations of a local family until inheritance issues caused the property to fall into disrepair and be put up for sale.
In 1993, Xavier Rolet came across this abandoned sleeping beauty. It had no water, no electricity and a big fig tree growing through the middle of the main building. And yet, he was moved by its wild ruggedness and viticultural potential. He decided to embark on the adventure of a lifetime and began to renovate the property. He was soon joined by his wife, Nicole and other members of their family, such as his sister Isabelle (an expert in historical restoration), their younger sister Benedicte and her husband Jean Louis (both with invaluable winemaking expertise). Together they worked incessantly and against multiple adversities to fulfil the potential of this special place.
It required a Herculean effort to establish how to structure the space in a way that would preserve the original Medieval architecture, but adapt it for all the comforts of modern living - such as under-floor heating, Bose surround sound audio systems, automatic door releases, and fibre optic lighting.
The renovation itself took almost 12 years. One of the greatest challenges the family faced was finding the right people with the relevant knowledge, ingenuity, experience and tenacity to undertake a project of such magnitude. Luckily, they met many talented individuals, locally and further afield, on their journey.
One such person was James Vich who, amongst many incarnations, had been the ironmonger for Salvador Dali. He helped to furnish La Verrière as he had collected warehouses full of antique, pre-mechanisation, agricultural tools and artifacts.
The Legends Live On
Two of the top Chêne Bleu wines created at La Verrière are named after the famous Medieval lovers, Pierre Abélard and Héloïse d'Argenteuil. Both were great disruptive thinkers of their time.
Taking inspiration from the Medieval location, guests are sometimes asked to disrupt their own patterns and feelings. You may be given knights’ costumes to wear, or offered a place at a knights’ round table for open discussion. By taking advantage of this ancient setting, you will be challenged to aim higher and further with your thoughts; to leave with big ideas that will make the world a better place.
This is likely the reason why so many prominent figures from politics, business, royalty and celebrity have been liberated by La Verrière’s unique set of circumstances in recent years. This is not merely an amazing house, back-dropped by impressive scenery, intriguing history, nice people, and abundant nature. It is a compounding of wonderful experiences, where you can not only feel fantastic, but be fantastic.