(Saint-Charles-de-Bellechasse) Julien Masia, chef-owner of the Arvi restaurant in Quebec City, is embarking on a new adventure with his partner, Ariel Pinsonneault. The couple acquired Domaine Bel-Chas, a vineyard located in Bellechasse, last spring.
Posted at 11:00 a.m.
If you are interested in Quebec gastronomy, the Arvi restaurant is no doubt no stranger to you. Opened in the summer of 2018, the establishment in the Limoilou district was named best new restaurant of the year in 2019 by on the way.
Its chef-owner, Julien Masia, recently bought the Domaine Bel-Chas vineyard with his wife, Ariel Pinsonneault, a pastry chef by trade who owned Loukoum Cupcake and worked at Chocolats Favoris.
Until recently, the couple lived on Île d’Orléans. During the pandemic, Ariel Pinsonneault worked at the Seigneurie de Liret, a vineyard known in particular for its bubbles. There, she learned the basics of winemaker work. It was the spark plug!
“I started working outside, and I didn’t want to go back inside. »
find the right one match
Julien Masia and Ariel Pinsonneault were therefore motivated to find a land where to start an alcohol processing project. Cider or wine, they were open to the possibilities.
It was thanks to L’Arterre, “a Tinder for agriculture”, that the duo finally found what they were looking for. “There are aspiring farmers and people selling businesses. It’s been matches and if the fit is good, we continue the conversation”, explains Julien Masia.
This was the case with the owners of Domaine Bel-Chas, Marielle Béland and Louis Chasse, who launched the vineyard in 2002. “They cleared everything and did a huge job,” says the chef.
The estate also specialized in cutting vines in greenhouses: nearly 25,000 cuttings are sold each year to nurseries, vineyards and private individuals. Ariel Pinsonneault, who took a year of training in horticultural production, does the heavy lifting.
In their new 4-hectare estate where 10,000 vines grow, there is also an ancestral house from 1765 in which the couple and their two children have settled. The place is located in the village of Saint-Charles-de-Bellechasse, rang de la Hêtrière, proudly recognized in the region as one of the most beautiful agricultural rows in Quebec.
“On the Island, we were in kind. But here, it really is the countryside! », remarks Julien Masia.
On the way to Domaine Arvi
The vineyard will open its doors to the public from Thursday to Sunday, starting June 23. You can discover the 2021 vintages made in collaboration with the former owners. “This year, we are in transition. We are quite proud of the result,” says Julien Masia, who adds that an on-site dining offer, with processed products, will be added during the summer.
The place will continue to be called Domaine Bel-Chas until Julien Masia and Ariel Pinsonneault offer their first vintages of their own, probably next year. It was then that the vineyard will change its name to Domaine Arvi.
At the moment, the couple is tackling organic conversion and wants to work according to biodynamic principles, without inputs, with indigenous yeasts, and by treating the vines naturally.
Rather than mixing several grape varieties, he wants to offer microcuvées of single varietals in order to bring out their particularities. White, gray or black Frontenac, Sabrevois, Radisson, Marquette, Maréchal Foch, hybrids all well adapted to the Quebec climate, grow here, as well as Bel-Chas, a grape variety with mysterious origins, which a man who was testing cuttings once brought to the former owners.
A trial with Bel-Chas as a single varietal carried out this year on indigenous yeasts, with 45 days of maceration, gave promising results, enough for the couple to decide to plant a few additional rows.
“We really want to try to work the terroir. Yes, Quebec wines are acidic, we won’t get out of it, but it’s interesting to work with this particularity rather than trying to mask it”, specifies Julien Masia.
The new owners, who have beehives, a few chickens and a young horse, are already planning a greenhouse event on August 13, a collaboration between Arvi and a restaurant to be unveiled later. We also think of fruit bushes, a vegetable garden and perhaps cider made with the wild apple trees on the ground. Yes, the future looks bright — and busy — in the rank of the Hêtrière.