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Coincidence brought me, Leslie Kellen, a South African visionary entrepreneur, to Blaye where I instantly fell in love with a perfectly positioned “maison de maitre” overlooking the Gironde River: The Villa Saint Simon guest house dream was born! My innate passion for people and the French culture together with my deep knowledge of wine enabled me to create an environment that attracts people from all over the world. The experiences made, transcends classical tourism to meaningful encounters and lifelong connections.

Then the day came when I met my enchanting German wife, the artist and interior designer, Clarissa, together our visions soared to new heights.

As a power duo we took the oldest trade road in Blaye, Rue St Simon, and started converting existing historical buildings into apartments, art studios, vintage garages, event and exhibition spaces, underground cellars and the latest edition, the Etalon Rouge Winery. We also created our own wine bar, La Petite Cave, where some of the most magical memories are created!

Les Kelen

Les Kelen
Founder, wine educator and wine judge

“I have been tasting, teaching and  judging wine for the last 45 years. In these times I fully agree with W.B.Yeats: 
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye; 
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die…”

Clarissa Schaefer
Project manager, artist & wine maker

“Wine is art in a bottle! 
I am passivate about producing our wine “ETALON ROUGE » as much as I am about creating my own art pieces. Trading with wine and art for me, is bringing people together and sharing my passions!”