A Family History
From the 12th century, the history of Domaine d’Astros has seen a succession of Knights Templar, Malta Knights and a prosperous Marseilles family.
“There have always been grapevines and Astros cellars...”
During the 12th century, the Knights Templar settled in the fertile Argens valley, the domain of the Viscounts of Marseille. They were succeeded by the Malta Knights in 1314 and under Philippe Le Bel in 1637. It was there, in the foothills, that they built a commandery. During the French revolution the crude construction was sold, along with the domain, as a national property.
In 1802, Napoléon Bonaparte, First Consul for Life wants discipline and money; he auctions off all the properties sold and unpaid under the French Revolution. That is how, Maximin Martin, a member of a Protestant family of Marseille industrialists, soap factory owners, offers to buy the Astros estate in 1802. Marc-Maximin Martin, his grandson, had a building erected inspired by Italian villas. Without descendants, he leaves all of his worldly goods to his first cousin’s grandson, Joseph Maurel, who’s the grandfather of the current owner Bernard Maurel.
Bernard Maurel, president of the Supervisory board of the Martin-Maurel bank, managed simultaneously two careers: banker and wine grower, always with tradition and ambition.
“Tradition is not the enemy of audaciousness, it is even the support for innovation.” (Jean XXIII)
Bernard Maurel, age 83, married to Dominique Maurel and father of four children, is the current owner of Domaine d’Astros. A banker of renown, he is the president of the supervisory board of the private bank Martin-Maurel, founded by his father in Marseille. “I was pruning vines before I knew how to write a cheque”, says this seasoned businessman, who for many years divided his time between two highly time-consuming businesses.
In the 1950’s, Domaine d'Astros was dedicated to producing everyday drinking wine and fruit growing. It was in 1958 that Bernard Maurel gave the estate a new lease of life. He planted new grape varieties and built a new cellar in the vicinity of the Château and in 1970 produced the estate’s first AOC Côtes de Provence. Astros turned a corner extending its production to “rosé wine” – today accounting for 75% of production – and has won a number of prizes, including regularly gold medals at the Concours Général de Paris.
“To give of yourself, you must have your feet planted firmly on solid ground”.
Bruno Maurel, Bernard’s third child, followed a somewhat singular career path. With his Master’s in economics in hand, he was able to “run the Château” at the age of 20, which appeared to be his primary vocation.
But being a Maurel, and hence a talented multi-tasker, Bruno soon devoted a good part of his time to youth education, an activity that very quickly took precedence over everything else. He answered God’s call to serve at the age of 32, when he pronounced his religious vows at the service of the Œuvre Jean-Joseph Allemand charitable organisation and was ordained a priest in the diocese of Marseille.
But he didn’t forget his initial training and became involved in the family business. “This way, “I’m in the world” and the business allows me to gain a better grasp of human, social and economic issues. It opens my eyes to the realities of life. To give of yourself, you must have your feet planted firmly on solid ground”. And the ground is here, in Astros.
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