After the wars of the reformation, Saint François de Sales intervened and Ripaille became for 2 centuries a Carthusian monastery, protected from the world by its formidable walls. Then after the French Revolution, the estate was sold to Général Dupas of Evian who retired there after the Napoleonic wars. In 1892, the site, in ruin, was restored and rehabilitated by Frédéric Engel-Gros of Mulhouse, a textile factory owner. With the help of noted architect Charles Schule and 10 years of painstaking work, the château was restored to the condition in which it is found today. The buildings were restored to their original state and a never-finished 17th century church was replaced by a French garden. The château itself, once standing in ruin, was renovated in a style of a remarkable combination of Medieval and Art Nouveau. The descendants of the Frédéric Engel-Gros, the Necker-Engel family, still own the Château de Ripaille today.
In 1976, Madame Harold Necker, with government assistance, created the Ripaille foundation to conserve and maintain its legacy. Today the château is owned by Louis Necker and his French-Canadian wife Paule. Ripaille was designated in 1994 by the National Culinary Arts Council as one of the 100 sites remarquables du goût in France.
The Château Today
The château is surrounded by 22 hectares of vines, which produce about 160,000 bottles of wine a year. The vineyards are on fairly flat ground, which gently slopes toward the lake. The soil is stony, with sun-baked glacial deposits, mostly limestone, brought down by the Dranse River.
All the vines on the property are of the Chasselas variety. Chasselas is the oldest known grape variety, originally coming from Egypt where records indicate its presence 5,000 years ago. It is widely planted in Switzerland, where it is known as Fendant, as well as in the unsung Pouilly-sur-Loire appellation and in Alsace. Chasselas is also popular in France as a table grape.
Harvest is done manually at the château, and the wine is aged in stainless steel. All the wine goes through malolactic fermentation, as is normally the case with Swiss wines.
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Château de Ripaille
Charles Neal Selections © 2018