The Estate

Here lies a secret island, a silent retreat, a magic carpet poised in the azure sky, years ago conquered by Clément Ader, the father of modern aviation. Nestled in the midst of hills, turned towards the summit of the wild and vast Pyrenees mountain range, is the land of Ribonnet. Here, away from the plain's busy roads, where the place is whirlwind, time unfolds tranquilly, drawing for centuries hikers and daring adventurers. 

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In days gone by, wine was made here, and has been again since the 1970s. Part rebel, part anarchist, driven by a severe but wise father, Swiss-born Christian Gerber had the courage to bring the chosen terroir of the elders back to life. He planted fifteen different varieties of vines, transforming the hillsides into Bacchus' garden, freed from the grip of the bureaucratic INAO (National Institute of Appellations of Origin).

A wide array of cépages creates a diverse palate of natural choice, the perfect device for artistic creation especially in the unrestrained hands of a curious winemaker-researcher. Fifteen hues are the living proof of tailored, agronomic reflection that brings forth rich cuvees, deep and beautiful. Perfect remedies for boredom and monotony. Some of these wines are made in small batches, rare occasions of bottled indulgence, aesthetic marvels of delicacy. The expatriates, foreigners, enlisted in a wine-lover's cause-Chenin, Riesling, Chardonnay, Aligoté, Syrah, Pinot Noir, the originality of their chromatic scales marrying notes inspired by the stave savour. These exotic pearls of new sensations stand beside the elegant and classic Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tanat and Cot.

Ribonnet shares its grace with those who visit. Clément Ader, aviation pioneer and telecommunications adventurer came here to settle his inventive soul and here he created the first glass-covered wine vats. Worthy successor of his famed elder, Christian Gerber, inspired by the majesty of the location exerts his flair in enlightened experimentation. By its lofty beauty, Ribonnet sets the rules, guiding its owner in a mindset of respect and protection of the environment. He named the crystal clear water source springing forth from the heart of the valley 'Estelle", in honour of the vaulted, star-scattered night sky, hanging over this universe of pastoral quietude. It is the source at Ribonnet he wants to protect, to save as an ideal of purity, an ecological and economic cause. The elders chose the holy chalice crowned with a dolphin as their blazon, a symbol helping future generations understand the kind generosity of the water of this country where the valleys of the Lèze, Ariège and Garonne intersect. The first stars brighten above the Pyrenean 'cordillera', the A380 night flight, heir of the airmail service biplane, takes off towards South America. On board, lovers of far off places, luckier than their ancestors who had but words and pioneer courage to carry the fire of their desire overseas. At Ribonnet's counter, Christian welcomes friends and customers with a glass of wine, convivial conversations hum under the turquoise sky where Clément Ader, on the edge of an angel's wing, watches over and approves.

At the beginning of the 20th century this famous French engineer, aviation and telecommunications adventurer, born in Muret, came here to settle his inventive soul.

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In 1890 he got famous when he, for the first time in history, took off for 50 meters with his one motor plane "Eole 1", the first flight on a motorised plane.

He planted 50 hectares of vine plants, replaced the plants killed by Phylloxera virus and renewed the cellar by means of the most modern techniques and created the first glass-covered wine vats. (still existing).

As a consequence, the domain took a revival.

However, financing aviation research, necessary investments in Ribonnet and the drastic fall of wine consumption after the 1st world war led to his financial ruin.

Shortly before his death in 1923, Clément Ader sold the domain to a Belgian family.

In 1974 the Gerber family took over the Domaine and Christian Gerber, raised in a Swiss farmer family, was designed to look after the Domaine.

He removed the old cepages sick from the Phyloxera virus and planted 35 ha of noble grape varieties.

The secret behind his success, however, is his family and his reliable crew, who have successfully worked together with him for decades.

The result is a dynamic team, which remains both flexible and innovative.

At the moment the Domaine cultivates 200 hectares of cereals and 20 hectares of vine.

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The two main activities from the domaine are concentrated around winemaking and farming.

Those two activities have always existed at Ribonnet, so that the tradition is perpetuated.

We work 200 hectares in cereals by specializing us towards modern and organic farming.

Thus, we cultivate linen, fenugreek, buckwheat, spelt, lentil, safflower, sunflower, millet... Other more traditional cultures are cultivated like wheat, soja or beans.

The vineyard is 20 hectares big and is exclusively conducted on orgnaic way and certified by Ecocert.

New diversification in our crop rotation will come. Our aim is to continue with new innovation by respecting our soil and our environment.

The historical part of the 300 year-old cave is adjacent to the castle and accessible from the courtyard. The modernisation and enlargement of the cave was carried out by Clément Ader according to the latest technologies of his time.

In 1979 a fire destroyed parts of the cave and equipment. This was a chance for Christian Gerber to renovate it and introduce the latest wine-making technology.

Today the cave has a capacity of 3000 hectoliters in steel tanks and approx. 200 barriques for maturing the wines.

The ancient cave has recently been rebuilt and Clément Ader's beautiful glass covered wine vats were opened and are now home to countless oak barrels, whose wines are carefully watched over by Bacchus and his fellow wine gods.

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