A family from Provence
Native of Provence, the Sumeire family hassettled down in Trets, at the foot of mountain Sainte-Victoire, since the 13th Century
LA TOUR DE L'EVÊQUE
In 1958, the Sumeire family who have owned the Font-Freye estate since 1933, acquired this large estate near Pierrefeu, within the Var
region. Formerly the summer residence of the archbishops of Toulon, this property bears two names inherited from its long past. Château la Tour de l’Evêque and Château la Tour Sainte Anne. Its past belongs to the history of Provence and France. Queen Mary, Countess of Provence, gave privileges on this land to the inhabitants from the village of Cuers. The sister of King René, Queen Jeanne, the Queen of Naples, is thought to have stayed there.
At Château la Tour de l’Evêque, visitors are welcomed by the Dolphins’ fountain and its pretty water feature. It has always been said that in the old days there was no water in this estate, because when the lady of the manor’s husband left for the crusades, she poisoned the well with her tears… A few centuries later, Gabriel Sumeire, put an end to this curse. With his visionary genius, he linked the property to the fabulously abundant Font-Freye spring conveying the water by gravity to the Dolphins’ fountain.
Roger Sumeire, who has been in charge of the family estates since 1946, worked in perfect symbiosis with his father Gabriel. Works were carried out on a vast scale : hills were dug up to build dry-stone walled terraces.
Régine Sumeire continues the work of her family. At the end of 2010 she started a vast project of building a new cellar in order to vinify and bottle while following gravity principles. The new cellar was inaugurated for the 2011 harvest.
GABRIEL SUMEIRE (1880-1968)
Gabriel Sumeire was an entrepreneur and a visionary. At 20 years old, he left Trets and created his own wine trade company in Marseille. He married a young women from Provence, Claire Delestrade. They had five children, four boys, Elie, Fernand, Raymond, Roger, and a girl, Paulette. Gabriel was then enlisted for the war. During this period, his wife was running the wine trade company, while raising the kids. As a visionary wine trader, Gabriel realized that, in order to control the quality of the wines, he needed to control their production. For this reason he acquired his first estate in 1922, la Grande Bastide, in a village close to Peynier. This was the first step of the building of a wine empire in the Var region.
Gabriel Sumeire always had a wise vision about the future of the business : a few days before his death, in November 1968, here is the way he was talking about the modern world to his children : “the industrial mergers will also come to the farming world… I built an empire : now you have to keep it”.
Following the death of Claire Sumeire, his wife, in 1976, the property was first divided in 1977. Roger Sumeire, the fourth and last son, received the “Château La Tour de l’Evêque”, with his 66 hectares, as well s a part of the estate of Peynier. In 1985, he also received a part of the Domaine des Anglades, a plot called “Calignade”, of 23 Hectares of vines in Hyères.
Roger Sumeire, one of Gabriel’s five sons, was also blessed with a pioneering spirit. Roger Sumeire, who rarely lost his temper, allowed people to achieve their potential in relation to their personalities, while guiding them unobtrusively in the direction in which he wanted them to go. From 1946 onwards Roger Sumeire contributed enormously to the expansion of the vineyards.
Régine Sumeire, the daughter of Roger Sumeire, assures the continuity of the family work. She likes to say that it is her father who taught her gestures and care of the vineyard. The same father who said to her that he had lived a working life in accordance with her grandfather and who knew how to perfectly reproduce this model with his daughter. The passion for wine-making they both instilled in Régine Sumeire still motivates her today. She communicates her experience to her team and her nephew Pierre-Francois de Bernardi.
The birth of the Pétale de Rose
Once upon a time, a young winemaker wanted to create a pale rosé wine. She had the idea to vinify red grenache by pressing the entire grapes using a champanese press. The resulting juice that flew from the press had a pale color. The difference was noticeable with a deeper than usual length in the mouth. This is the way the Pétale de Rose was born in 1985, recognized as the first pale rosé in Provence, vinified at Château Barbeyrolles. This vinification method was then used at Château la Tour de l’Evêque to produce a cuvée with the same name.