WINE growers in Provence have welcomed the international publicity brought by celebrities producing their own wine in the region.
It comes after Johnny Depp revealed his dream to make his own wine in the village where he lives in the Var.
Valérie Lelong of CIVP, a professional body for Provençal wine, said: “It could be that wine-making is a bit of a whim for some of these celebrities, but we think it’s positive if they come to Provence, especially when they talk about their love of the area.
“Johnny Depp often says how happy he is here and, if he’s interested in wine now, that’s good.
“David Ginola often puts in a good word for Côtes de Provence abroad and we get good press from it. It shows we’re not just a little wine for tourists but Provence wines are appreciated by people who are used to drinking more expensive, famous ones as well.”
Depp, however, admits it may be a while before his wine is available to the public. “I plan to keep it to myself before I dare to try to sell it,” he told magazine VSD. He said the Var was very good for wine, especially rosé, but he preferred to drink red. Depp said he “feels like I am in paradise” at his French home in Plan-de-la-Tour.
“You know what I do there? Absolutely nothing. When I wake up I go see if my vegetables are growing; if certain flowers have started to bloom.”
Wine producing has attracted a long list of celebrities in France, including actor Gérard Depardieu and retired footballer David Ginola.
Brad Pitt also takes an interest - his bolthole in the Var, Château Miraval, has been listed as one of the country’s top wine producers in wine bible the Guide Hachette des Vins.
Sales of Château Miraval wines have soared since Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been in residence. Pitt was reported to have shown interest in several other vineyards in Italy and France before making a decision. He is now said to have enrolled in winemaking classes alongside his other hobbies of flying and architecture.
Even so, they hardly run the place alone - the 30 hectares of vines are tended by a team of workers.
Pitt and Jolie are not the first celebrities associated with the chateau – Sting, Pink Floyd and The Cranberries recorded in a studio there.
So why is winemaking so appealing? Depardieu has said that for him it is the opportunity to share an experience with partners who have knowledge and passion.
He is involved in several ventures with wine magnates Bernard Magrez and Michel Rolland and plans to devote his retirement to viticulture.
David Ginola scored a silver medal for his own brand of rosé, which made its debut at the International Wine Challenge in 2008. Growing up in Provence, he was surrounded by vineyards and having invested money into sourcing some decent bottles for his cellar he built up a network of contacts in the trade. He told journalists that a Frenchman’s passion for drinking wine was “like slurping tea for a Brit.”
However, the commitment of stars to maintaining their vines has been debated. Running a vineyard, which is still a popular choice among expats looking for a way to earn a living abroad, is a full-time job. The quality of the vines is crucial and every season brings new challenges.