It was Henri Brunier who penned the first chapter of this wonderful family story in 1891, in the village of Bédarrides, well known today as occupying the southeastern portion of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC area. In that year, he gifted to his son Hippolyte some plots of land on La Crau, a place in those days considered practically unfit for cultivation, its soil a thankless proposition due to a high density of pebbles.
The latter planted his first vine stocks on this commanding plateau, where grapes had first been grown in the 14th century; and where, in 1821, Claude Chappe, inventor of the optical telegraph, built one of his signal towers. Hippolyte’s son, Jules, extended the estate to 42 acres and aptly named the fruits of his labours “Vieux Télégraphe”.
Frédéric et Daniel Brunier, la cinquième génération
At the end of the Second World War, Henri, the second thus named and the fourth generation, had the formidable task of reviving the estate and shaping its destiny. Not content with enlarging the Domaine to a single expanse of 136 acres, he gave this classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine its full dimension, creating a “Vieux Télégraphe” style and positioning it on all the world’s leading markets.
Since the early 1980s his two sons, Frédéric and Daniel, have been tending to the family concern.They now farm 242 acres in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC area, and 37 acres of IGP Vaucluse and AOC Ventoux vines. Domaine Les Pallières must also be listed: acquired in 1998 in partnership with family friend Kermit Lynch, this single-plot 309-acre estate in Gigondas has 62 acres of vines.
The year 1998 also marked the creation of Massaya in Lebanon in association with Sami and Ramzi Ghosn, which now makes wines from 123 acres of vines, planted mainly in the northeast Beqaa Valley. After more than a century in existence, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe and the subsequent additions, guided by the fifth generation of vignerons, and soon the sixth, has kept its original philosophy intact and very much alive.