In the heart of the Languedoc region, the village of Ventenac-en-Minervois is nicely situated between the mountains and the sea, between medieval citadels and Cathar castles and surrounded by the lush fields of the Minervois and Corbières vineyards: rich in heritage, character and scenery.
The site on which Château Ventenac sits is reputed to have been given by Julius Caesar to a senior legionnaire on his retirement. He planted vineyards and built a house which he named after himself, Villa Venticulus – this later became the village of Ventenac.
Château Ventenac in the Middle Ages
Records about the early incarnations of Château Ventenac are somewhat sketchy, but it is thought that the original 13th century Castle met its demise at the height of the infamous and bloody Albigensian crusade against the Cathars, led by Simon de Montfort. Sadly little or nothing remains of the medieval fortress, however there are parts of the present day Château that date back some 300 years.
The 19th Century Château & the Caveau
The grand Château Ventenac wasn’t resurrected until 1880 when Mme Seguy Saint Siran worked with a group of craftsmen known as Les Compagnons de France to build the four-storey Château, along with the Caveau. The initials of Mme Saint Siran can be seen carved into the archway that forms the imposing entrance to the Château courtyard. These 19th Century designs are striking examples of classic French Château Architecture.
The Château and the Caveau, a turreted ‘cathedral to wine’, sit at the highest point in the village and are a sight to behold from the vineyards and Canal du Midi below.
20th Century changes
In 1938 the Caveau was taken over by the local winegrowers, who formed a cave co-operative to make and sell wines using grapes from the rich vineyards around the village. The co-operative still makes wine, winning prizes for its rich reds and (unusually for the region) its characterful white.
When the Caveau was taken over by the co-operative, the Château itself was divided into six smaller homes and one large family house. It is this family house that forms the present-day Château Ventenac, which has now been sensitively restored to combine the luxuries of modern life with the charm and style of a bygone age.