The word “le pressoir” means, “wine press” and this building is probably the oldest and the most interesting on this site. Long before the Chateau was built in 1848, this was a cottage built of mud and stone, and dating back to 1500-1550.

The cottage would have been essentially one room with a fireplace (the remains of which are now a doorway into the next cottage) and ladder access to a storage area above.

Parts of the ancient window can be seen near the stairs. Behind the stairs there is a niche with another small circular window. This would have been over the stone sink now at the other side of the room. These old sinks were not so much for doing the dishes, but cold slabs on which meat could be kept during the hot summer months, as well accommodating as any kind of household washing or swilling.

The building was converted into a pressoir when the Chateau was built; the Chateau grounds stretched over many hectares and Rochebonne produced its own wine as well as all other necessities.

The window cut onto the patio dates from the cottage era but the original doorway was demolished in 1848 to make way for the large double doors needed for access when wine-making was in progress. During renovation work the Broughton-Tompkins replaced the doors and also lowered the lintel.

Above the pressoir was a loft with access via a trap in the floor as well as a shuttered opening (not a window) over the patio. The Broughton-Tompkins lowered the floor level to provide headroom. The main oak beam in the living room is probably about 700 years old! When the Broughton-Tompkins bought the property in 1995 there was the iron base for the wine press in the floor.

The floor sloped from all directions towards the centre where there was a collecting point for the wine. Two enormous timber barrels stood to one side, at least 6 inches in diameter. The only way to remove them was to break them up and the wonderful fruity odour of old wine remained in the timber all the way through that winter as the barrels met a suitable end in the Chateau fireplace.

Posted on September 1, 2011 by Jake
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