In the hills behind Béziers is hidden a 18th century farmhouse, surrounded by 14 hectares of vineyards, nowadays called Mas des Dames. It is run by a Dutch woman, Lidewij van Wilgen. How did she get there ??
From Advertising to Wine
Lidewij lived two lives already:
First, she made career in advertising at Saatchi & Saatchi and Lowe in Amsterdam. At thirty, she was head of the strategy department – the ceiling was reached and the choice was there: Keep on doing the same thing for thirty more years, or start a new life.
Together with her ex-husband, a Dutch creative director, she choose for the last. Being wine-enthousiasts, they started to look for the ideal place to make their own wine. After visits to Bordeaux and the Northern Rhône they became intrigued by what people called: ‘The new world of wine in France‘ – The Languedoc.
So finally, where else to go than Southern France where all seemed still possible?
Farm of the ladies
After a long search they found an 18th-century farmhouse surrounded by its own vineyards. Thorough analysis of the University of Bordeaux confirmed this place had a valuable terroir and serious potential.
In 2002 the family moved with their three daughters, the youngest still a baby, to the South of France. The people from the village were amused to see again three girls at the house, the Mas; there had been another family with three girls before them. Three girls, three ‘dames’ – the name of the winery was born.
For the first year, we had an adviser experienced at Cheval Blanc, who ordered all the cellar equipment and decided about adjustments in the vineyards. With this background, it’s clear standards were high …
Lidewij obtained a degree in vinification and oenology in 2005 and became the leading winemaker after that. Her husband went back to Holland, where he created a new and by now notorious advertising agency.
A new life
With fourteen years experience Mas des Dames is now a stable, successful winery, that Lidewij runs with the assistance of her perfectionistic French employee Jean-François, his wife Géraldine and a loyal team of season-workers.
She is remarried to French interventional radiologist Oliver, who practices as well in Montpellier as in Béziers, but who doesn’t hesitate to accompany Lidewij when visiting clients all over the world.