A chat with Domaine of the Bee's Justin Howard-Sneyd
Domaine of the Bee sits at the bottom of the ‘Languedoc Roussillon', in the Eastern Pyrenees. It's the hottest and driest part of France.
How did you end up becoming a winemaker?
I spent three years in my mid twenties chasing vintages around the world in places like Hungary, South Africa (three times), Romania, Bordeaux and Southern France. I knew one day I wanted to make my own wine, but didn’t know how. Then, whilst working as a buyer, I travelled widely and fell in love with the stunningly beautiful Roussillon region.
Tell us why a keen wine drinker should visit your region?
The Roussillon is one of the most dramatic, and spectacularly beautiful regions of France, as the high Pyrenees descend to the sea, and the local grapes can make a huge range of wines from delicate mineral whites to huge robust reds, and everything in between. And don’t forget the unique fortified wines of Maury, Banyuls and Rivesaltes.
Which part of the winemaking process do you enjoy the most?
Plunging my arm shoulder deep in a newly fermenting barrel of Grenache.
Is there anything that frustrates you about working in wine?
The UK government’s tax regime.
Which environmental practices are most important to you?
I am learning a lot about Regenerative Viticulture at the moment, and while there is a limit to what we can implement in our own vineyards right now, I am keen to explore how we can farm in a more sensitive and biodiverse way.
How do you like to spend your spare time?
If I had any, I would spend it reading, fishing for trout, skipping through spring meadows with Amanda, and going to plays and music festivals.
Which is your favourite season?
Autumn. Crisp nights, bright days, stunning colours, and the harvest safely gathered in.
What is your go-to music to unwind to?
I have always been a massive fan of indie rock music, and we go to one or two gigs a month. Nothing beats standing near the middle of an expectant crowd holding a brimming second pint as the main band come on stage.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
Going on holiday to Albania in September. Last year we went to Georgia, which was epic, and we are hoping Albania and Montenegro will be just as good...