We will never forget
Shutterbug in French

French for "from scratch"

Jean-Marc Espinasse Wine Spectator

Taken from The Wine Spectator magazine, the line just above, inspired today's expression...

from scratch

    : à partir de rien, de zéro

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence Download MP3 or Wav file

Créer un vignoble à partir de rien, c'est pas commun aujourd'hui.
Starting an estate from scratch has become rare around here.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

When our alarm rang at 5:45 this morning I mumbled "Good night!" in French.

"Bonjour,"Jean-Marc replied. The creaking of our armoire, a wedding gift from 20-years ago, was a splash of cold water to my face and now my mind was percolating away as my husband pulled on his threadbare jeans and searched for a warm enough shirt. Early mornings in the vineyard are cold, even if the nearby beaches are already hot with Bardot lookalikes.

Thankfully my husband has eyes only for vines. That is why we call him Chief Grape. I waited until Chief left the room to stretch out over his side of the bed. It's not fair to rub it in, when you get to sleep in.

Next I heard our coffee-maker, which sounds just like Jean-Marc's prehistoric tractor. Both machines hum like dinosaurs! Come to think of it, this all must be music to my husband's boyish ears--a thundering overture for his daily grape adventure.

Just like a kid Jean-Marc ran back into the room this morning, to share an exciting discovery: an article about his labors in the Wine Spectator!

"I can't wait to read it!" I cheered.

Returning to bed now, with a cup of Tyrannosauras Joe, I clicked open my email to search for the link Jean-Marc had promised to send me.

I found it, and a whole lot more. My husband's note read:

Thank you for making my dreams come true

I Love you


*    *    *
Here is the link to that wonderful article on Jean-Marc and I leave you with a few photos taken over the years, just after today's sponsors.

To respond to this post, click here.

Sponsor's Messages:

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Jean-Marc's first harvest (at his own vineyard). He was stick thin, having put all his weight into his first cuvée.


He gained back those kilos, along with experience as he continued to make his prize-winning wine


That serious look! His mind is so often on his grapes.


Serious look and seriously cramped working spaces -- all in the name of wine!


2007, in a cramped kitchen full of harvesters. That first year was the most trying, as evidenced by the scarecrow figures smiling back at you. Jean-Marc was NOT blessed with a vineyard wife, a tough broad who works beside him in the vineyard, then hurries back to the kitchen to make lunch for the entire crew. But that didn't stop Jean-Marc from making the leafy crown you see above, and naming me Queen of Harvest--La Reine de la Vendange--an award given to the one who tries, all the same. It was generous and thoughtful of Jean-Marc to write me that note this morning. But it is he who made his own dreams come true, with all that hard work and determination. So proud of you, Chief Grape!

Kristi at harvest
2007. In need of a good strong cup of Tyrannosauras Joe. 

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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David Simmons

La patience est un vertu, surtout pour un vigneron !

I figured producing wine had to be a tough business, but had no idea the French appellation rules mean Marc can't harvest until 2017 and 2021.

Kathy Casey

I am happy to say I finally had the Domaine Rouge-Bleu. I bought a bottle while in Paris recently and got to enjoy it with a little cheese of course. It was good. Thanks.


I love your blog...thank you so much for sharing your life with your readers. As an American visitor who also loves writing, wine, and France in general, I really look forward to your posts. Merci beaucoup!


The article was fascinating! We all feel as if we know you and your family personally, and so it is with a sense of joy that we get to read about Jean Marc's dream finally coming true-- with his loyal La Reine de la Vendange beside him. It has always been a dream of mine, too, to have have vines and live under fig, as well as olive, trees, so part of what draws me here is the vicarious "living" I get to do when reading your well-written words. Thanks for sharing, and I wish you both beaucoup succès!

Nan Morrissette

Hurrah! Hooray! We can't wait for those first vintages. The article describes J-M and his love of life so very well. And the two of you are an amazing team, each enhancing the other's strengths. Love you! (P.S. Also tremendously enjoying Charles and Martha's too brief sojurn back in hot, hot Florida.)

Ellen from Jaffrey, NH

So glad I read your post first thing this morning. It put a smile on my face. What a fantastic article about Chief Grape. It is so heartening to hear a story about dreams being realized and hard work being rewarding. Congratulations to all.

Sevahn Merian from Michigan

Dear Kristin,

Congratulations to Jean-Marc and to you as well. You both are a model couple (physically as well as spiritually)! Wishing you life's best!

Joanne Polner

Mes pensées pour lundi passée:
Chère Kristin, Tu es une très belle dame, au corps, au coeur, et en esprit. Merci, toi, et merci, la France, pour faire chaque année l'honneur aux américains morts dans la guerre et ceux vifs dans notre pays du jour. L'amour d'un peuple pour un autre peuple est exactement la paix du monde. Que les autres pays du monde en reconnaissent. Avec admiration, Joanne NJ

Karen from Towson, Md

I had no idea that he was taking on something that hadn't been done in a long time and also something that saw no end results for a long time. It's a good thing you guys are young! But, in the meantime he is satiated by his water, his family and his beautiful partner in it all.

Congratulations to JM on the article. It's about time!

Arliss P

Wow, great post, great article! Congratulations to Chief Grape on making this dream happen — and to all of you. Love seeing the series of photos taken over the years. Sending love and good wishes as your bit of heaven on earth continues to grow and flourish. <3

Chris Allin

Dear Kristin,

What an exciting article! The author seems to have captured Jean-Marc's
passion for and commitment to his dream. This effort, from clearing the land to first bottle of wine, might just be worth a book on its own. (One of many I hope you have spinning around in your mind.). Support for a soulmate comes in many different ways and you and Jean-Marc have well blended your passions and support for each other. What could be more perfect for your readers than sipping Rouge-Bleu while enjoying one of your books! Cheers to you both!

Sophie Day

Very nice article in the Wine Spectator about Jean-Marc. Thank you for posting it!

Barbara Andolsek Paintings

Congratulations! As Samuel Goldwyn said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get" and Chief Grape is most certainly a very hard worker. So here's to many more wonderful things to come and dreams coming true.

Janine Cortell

Cher Jean-Marc:
Felicitations! L'amour pour votre femme et l'amour pour la vigne...On ne peut que reussir.
Je vous souhaite bonne chance dans les deux domaines. Janine

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

What exciting news! Thanks for posting the article, too. What a task JM has taken on, but what a dream and accomplishment! Yes, another book!


CONGRATULATIONS!! You both deserve it. Kudos and praise for your hard work. So thrilled for you both!

Karen from Phoenix

Congratulations!!! Wonderful article. So happy for you all!


Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

What an interesting article --- thanks for posting it. I love JM's work ethic and positive attitude. Congrats! You both are hard workers, creative, and too cute!

Be well.

Mrs Figg

Great article supporting Jean Marc as you support him too.

You both deserve to do well out of your joint hard work.

Please can you explain "a cup of Tyrannosaurus Joe"?


Thanks you all for your support. I was all day in the baby vines, planting pols, and spreading out all my Love to these babies...
What a great day.


Our dear Kristi,
The article was wonderful(!)
Even more wonderful,though,is JM's note to you.
God brought you together and has blessed your love and your lives.
What joy to see this day by day and what privilege to share in it.
Thank you!
Natalia xo

catharine ewart-touzot

I have to agree with Natalia..his note to you said worlds..I read both with admiration for the two of you..Could he have done it "alone" maybe..to be in a position where we can encourage another to fulfill their dreams is the best place in the world to be! Through your blog I think you have encouraged others to do the same Bravo! (posted both to FB hoping your lifestyle will be followed by many)

judi dunn

... Kristin, you and Jean-Marc were definitely star -crossed lovers and now mates! You compliment each other in the most wonderful and natural ways. I strongly believe in love and it is clear that you both have that and great respect and mutual admiraton for each other as well. Your beautiful children, you new home and his dedication to his 'vines' all show how you were fated to journey through life together. We are just grateful that you share your many highs and lows with us, as it makes us love you all the more! Your writing inspires us to be better than we are! Judi Dunn, Tallahassee

edie schmidt


Tres bien for your hubby!
An interesting article and I sure great wines will follow.

Edie from Savannah

Nancy, San Antonio, Texas

Congratulations JM!!! On both the article and the planted vines! That is a whole bunch of very hard work - hats off to JM. He could not do it without his support team. You are all high achievers and hard workers. Thanks for sharing your teamwork with all of us. Inspiring. Can hardly wait to drink some of the wine.

Marcel Tiemann

New Orleans, May 27, 2014

Dear Kristin,
Once more you instruct and intrigue us!
And, Jean-Marc works his own magic, on change le terroir au trésor.


joie in carmel-by-the-sea

The note says it all. And who better to write the article than Robert Camuto.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Congratulations to Jean Marc and to you! How satisfying to start something from scratch and watch it grow. It's lots of hard work but it will pay off in the end! How are the house renovations going? Love all the photos. I almost thought the last photo was of your sister Heidi. You all look so much alike.

alicia brown matthes

We've enjoyed many a bottle of Domaine Rouge Bleu. All the best with the new venture!

Betty Doolittle Tuininga

Such a wonderful article. I admire JMs knowledge and ability that goes into the vineyard and the production of the wine. I don't drink but sip here and there, but really understand the refined process of development.

I so enjoy your writing and the photos that you take. I feel as if I am precariously visiting your corner of the world through your wonderful blog...

Vance Anderson-Inks

Dear Kristi, and Jean-Marc,
You, the article, Jean-Marc, your two lovely children....Wonderful, simply Wonderful. I'm so pleased for you all. So nice to see a family doing their "right thing". Please give your mom a hug for me when she gets there. I sure do miss her and Breezy.

Julia Hamel

Your writings always lift me up and what a beautiful love story!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Chris and friends. Reading your notes is the most rewarding thing. I cannot wait for Jean-Marc to see your supportive words. He is still out in the field, planting poles beside his 2000 vines. You may have heard the tap-tapping in yesterdays soundfile, which he recorded for us on site :-)

Cynthia Lewis

Even though there have been many heartfelt congratulations sent your way, I want to add mine,too. You, Jean-Marc, Max and Jackie are an inspiration to us all as we follow your achievements both large and small. Could you hear us cheering when we read the article in "The Wine Spectator"? Congratulations Jean-Marc along with your family and friends who helped along the way! Very sincerely, Cynthia

Ophelia Paine

What a great article!! You guys are truly amazing -- both of you -- and yes, an inspiration. It's never too late. Right? What a life you have created/continue to create for yourselves. Congratulations to Jean-Marc and to you, too!

Kathy King

I so admire you and Jean-Marc! I am so inspired by your stories about your life.

Kathleen from Connecticut

What a great article in Wine Spectator. Your Rouge Bleu wines were really great and now on to the new venture, but I too did not realize how long it would be before you would finally see the results of your new vineyards.

Patience is a venture and both of you seem to possess this. Best wishes on the new vines and may you have a bunker crop the first year and every year thereafter.



What a very nice surprise for J-M's morning coffee! Congratulations on such a lovely article! I had no idea it would take so long for him to be able to produce the table wines, is that just how long it takes to get a good harvest from them?

I am assuming that it would take longer for the Bandol designation to make sure of a consistent quality that meets specific standards for that appellation?

Karla Ober

Great post! Great article! Great love note!

Alice Freeman

It's wonderful to get this up-close-and-personal view into the beginnings of a great wine label, and I have no doubt it will be great. All the best, Kristin and Jean-Marc. Bon travail et Bon courage! What an adventure!


What a great post, Kristin, and I love the photos! The article about your husband was wonderful. You two are an amazing team and I wish you both all the best!

Marianne Rankin

I have always been so impressed by Jean-Marc. He is one of the hardest-working people I know - and apparently never loses his good nature in spite of sometimes backbreaking work. I wish him every success in this new venture.

The article, which was interesting, noted that J-M became "restless" after a few years of winemaking at Rouge-Bleu. I had thought one of the reasons for leaving was because of fatigue, as it's a lot of work that often must be done only or mainly by one person, even if you have help at the harvest. So I still have wondered why he/you would leave one area that had become established, only to really start from scratch in Bandol, which must be even more work. I suppose there is satisfaction in overcoming the challenges of creating something wonderful out of, one could say, nearly nothing. As long as you all are happy, that's what counts, and we will look forward to eventually sampling the wine from the new vineyard.

Diane Young

A friend whose daughter lives in Marseille tells me that Bandol and surrounds are known for their roses, so I think JM wanted to make his beloved rose more than continue with a red. Vive le vintner! Et sa femme!


Congratulations on the Wine Spectator article! We love Bandol and it's wines and look forward to yours.

Carmen Clarke

Awesome article! Congrats, Jean-Marc and Kristi on this nice recognition. Courage!

Sharon Auckerman

Wow! And words like Jean-Marc's are why we stay married.


I've been reading for years, but I think this is my first comment. Big fat congratulations to you both! I just love the way you wrote it. :)

Fred Caswell

Chere Kristin, this blog filled me with racing reminiscent thoughts and emotions. Our healthy, very special relationship was a blessing to me. Maintenant j'ai quatre-vingts ans!! Countless times sorrowful experiences have reminded this octogenarian that we must let go, too often with an aching heart. Always grateful to you for the years we freely communicated and for the weekend shared chez vous. New joys and struggles stream into my long, fruitful life. Still drive and in love with my youthful 71 year old wife. Too good an appetite, play pool/billiards recently, had lunch with 2 of 4 great-grandchildren, and joined a senior citizen choral group -- no complaints here! Amicalement toujours! Fred

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