I’ve visited a lot of vineyard estates, but when it comes to inspiring awe, few compare to the Ermitage du Pic St.-Loup in southern France. Size makes a lot of the difference. On a clear day around Pic St.-Loup—a craggy 2,159-foot-high, sharkfin-shaped mountain in the Languedoc region—the sky seems as big and blue as it gets. In all directions are the rugged lands of the Ermitage.
The owners, the Ravaille family, cultivate 110 acres of vineyards, most of which fall in the newly designated Pic St.-Loup AOC that debuts with the 2017 vintage. But their estate, spreading out from the ruins of a 13th-century castle, covers more than 1,300 acres of Mediterranean forest and the fragrant Provençal scrub known as garrigue—including the entire sheer southern face of the Pic itself.