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A Visit to Château Barbebelle Wine Art and Charity

Provence is abuzz this time of year with fabulous offerings of art, music, opera, film, wine tastings, and the usual fêtes that move from village to village. We travelled from New England to Provence last month specifically for this show by French painter Gérard Isirdi at Château Barbebelle in Rognes, not far from Aix-en-Provence.

Pairing art and wine with philanthropy is unusual, but what a win-win combination.  Such is the case with the small but sensational Gérard Isirdi exhibition at Château Barbebelle that is helping to raise awareness of post-infectious neuroimmune diseases such as PANDAS and benefiting, in part, a fund my husband and I set up to raise money for research, awareness, and education about this horrendous disease. PANDAS, a neuroimmune disease triggered by a Group A streptococcal infection, took the life of our 26-year-old daughter, Alexandra Manfull, three years ago.

The seeds for this collaboration, in many ways, were planted in 2019 when we approached Madeleine Premmereur, Director of Château Barbebelle, and her team and then Gérard and his wife Christine Isirdi, about a project we hoped to do to raise awareness about PANDAS. Continue reading here for more background on this project and details on the successful vernissage.

A Charitable Cause

Madeleine and Gérard will donate a portion of sales of Alex’s wine and exhibit posters, respectively, to The Alex Manfull Fund for Brain Research at the Georgetown University Medical Center, where Alex’s brain has been made available for research. (The first researcher to obtain tissue is in Europe.)

If you would like to contribute to The Alex Manfull Fund for Brain Research, please visit

For more information about post-infectious neuroimmune disorders such as PANDAS and PANS and resources in Europe, please visit EXPAND, The European Immuno-neuropsychiatric Association. In the US, please visit PANDAS Network, PANDAS Physician Network, or ASPIRE.

Learn more about raising awareness for PANDAS in this video and here:

Information for Your Visit

This exhibition of Gérard Isirdi’s artwork will run through August 29, 2021.  Entry to the exhibit is free.  Hours are Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sundays and Holidays from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Château Barbebelle (website)
D 543, 13840 Rognes
This 4th generation vineyard is one of the oldest wineries near Aix-en-Provence. Surrounded by 300 hectares of nature, 45 hectares of grapevines are nurtured into lovely wines of all three colours.

Gérard Isirdi (website)
Atelier Isirdi
4 rue Henri de Savornin
84160 Lourmarin, France

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Susan Newman Manfull

Susan Newman Manfull

It was love at first sight when my family and I arrived in the charming village of Lourmarin for a short vacation, nearly 20 years ago. We returned home to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and the next thing I knew, we were planning a much longer sojourn in that village and making arrangements to enroll our daughter in the local school there. That led to buying a maison de village— actually two, then a courtyard, a parking spot, and a bergerie— in our favourite Provençal village where we (readily) adopted that certain joie de vivre, established dear friendships, and, to this day, endeavour to blend in with the crowd at Café Gaby.

We no longer own property in Lourmarin, but we continue to hang our hats there frequently and gather fodder for our souls and The Modern Trobaors and Provence WineZine. There is never a shortage.

The Modern Trobadors, conceived in 2008, is about all things Provence: its markets, hilltop villages, lavender, art, literature, culture, history, food, wine, and news. Provence WineZine, launched in August 2014, focuses on wines from Provence and the Southern Rhône Valley regions—with a special emphasis on Provence's world-renowned rosés—and the men and women who make them.

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