I am now traveling with Debi and Jim Saunders of Hearst Castle Winery. Today we are in the town of Tournon-Sur-Rhône on the right bank of the Rhône River. The town dates back to the Middle Ages. Today we witnessed a historic event. Jim Saunders was inducted into a wine brotherhood called Confrerie du Crozes Ermitage. This is a very special honor, a historic moment, in San Luis Obispo County history.
The location of the ceremony was the massive Tournon Castle, originally the main protection for the town, on the right bank of the Rhône River.
After the ceremony, we tasted three wines of Hermitage and Saint Joseph on the Chateau Terrace overlooking the vineyards of Hermitage. Hermitage was awarded a local Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in 1937. The red wine is made from the Syrah grape. The Saint Joseph Vineyards are spread approximately 35 miles on the right bank of the Rhône, north and south of Tournon. This wine was sold as early as the 16th century and enjoyed at the tables of French kings. It was given its present name in the 17th century by the Jesuits of Tournon. Between 1956 and 1969, all the vineyards from this part of the Cotes du Rhône were grouped together and awarded a local AOC.