24 Rotarians and partners travelled to Sancerre in central France for the President’s Weekend from Friday 23rd to Monday 26th June 2023.  The weekend started on the Friday with a drinks party and buffet meal in the garden of Clive and Fiona’s holiday home in the village, where we partied well into the night, some having a dip in the pool and a game of boule.  
The next day it was down to the Wine Museum in Sancerre to discover how wine is made and the history of the terroir – the moisture squirted into one’s face at the appropriate time during the 3D interactive film was a laugh.  It was followed by a wine tasting on the museum terrace.  After lunch and in brilliant sunshine (temp in excess of 30 degrees), Clive took everyone for a guided walk around the town, following the red line painted in the street. It started at the Esplanade Porte-Cesar with a fantastic panoramic view of the Loire and finished at the library on the other side of town with another great view of the vineyards.   After this everyone retreated to their swimming pools for a well-earned swim and a cool down.  
In the early evening there was a wine tasting at the Joseph Mellot Historic Cellar in town.  We were shown around by the owner and a follow Rotarian, Catherine Corbeau-Mellot and her son Armond, who explained how wine was stored in oak barrels and how to get the best out of the delicious Sancerre and Pouilly Fume wines we were tasting.  Later we walked to the Joseph Mellot Auberge Restaurant in the town Square for a three-course meal paired with appropriate wines.  There were informal speeches and we were able to meet the President of the Sancerre and Cosne Rotary Club Regis Jouan and his partner, Christiane, who were our guests.  Regis was glad to receive his Grays Thurrock Rotary tie which he wore with pride and Clive received a banner and a bottle of Sancerre wine engraved with the club’s name.    
On the Sunday everyone was again greeted in the morning by brilliant sunshine and blue skies for another hot day. We gathered at the Joseph Mellot Winery at 10.00am for a tour and explanation of how the wine is made, from grape crushers to giant stainless-steel vats and the bottling and packaging plants.  Joseph Mellot’s three wineries produce 1.4 – 1.6 million bottles of wine a year. We even had a chance to look at the developing grapes on the nearby vines – harvest expected mid-September.  After the tour, you guessed it, there was another wine tasting in the Winery.  
After lunch a convey of cars met at the Panoramic hotel and we drove down to the banks of the Loire at St Satur, where our party was split into two groups, one of which went for a walk along the Loire and finished with a ice cream in the Cafe, while the other group went for a boat trip along the river to the Wildlife Sanctuary and back – onboard Fiona oversaw the nibbles and wine.  When they returned an hour later it was the first groups turn to jump on the boat with Fiona for the second river boat trip of the day.   That evening, we met for the final evening meal at the Le Connétable Restaurant and eat al fresco on the terrace in the town Square.   After an informal meal of huge portions, we said our goodbyes and retired to the bars of the town or our accommodation, all having had a great time.    Many thanks to the President and particularly his partner Fiona East, for organising the event.