“Women have taken the reins of entrepreneurship in the wine industry”
Did you know according to the GEDI(2015) female entrepreneur index, France holds the 6th place among 77 countries? We Indian women are still a faraway 70th.
Of course, most of us have been, and still are inspired by our mothers, grandmothers, sisters and other female members, who have been part of our journey. But, most of the time we take it casually and forget to share their stories …
In fact, some of the top 100 wines in the world are created by women wine makers like Sandrine Garbay of Chateau d’Yquem, Mentzelopoulos of Chateau Margaux…. Endless!
Traditionally, the Bordeaux wine industry has been a playground for men…Women worked behind the scenes, being part of the family business and consequently receiving very little recognition for their efforts and contribution. Since the middle of 20th century many women broke the traditional rules, and today more and more are seen globally in the wine industry.
Talking about Graves appellation history, it is this region where Romans first planted grapes and produced Bordeaux wines, close to 2000 years ago. This appellation covers both red and white wines. A typical graves red is based on the classic varieties of Cabarnet Sauvignon & Merlot. Whites from Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. The names are derived from the gravel. The best soils are gravel-rich, mixed with sand and occasionally clay. Wine here in Graves are full bodied and generally have a more feminine flavour than their Medoc neighbour. However, they are significantly structured and take a long time to mature.
On my most recent visit to Graves, I visited Chateau Lusseau.
“Château LUSSEAU is a small 150 yr old family estate located north of the Graves vineyards. Hosted by Bérengère QUELLIEN, a passionate woman winemaker. Her character and personal qualities inspired me. She was a brilliant example of a women entrepreneur and a wine maker who is at the helm of her winery.
The taste of her wines are rare and intimate. The wines will surprise you by their delicacy and charisma. These authentic wines are produced in a field of seven hectares of vines, carefully cultivated according to organic farming practices with the greatest respect to the soil and the surrounding environment”
Bérengère practiced as a lawyer at the hospital of Bayonnefor 4 years, before she decided to take over the family vineyard in 2000. After 1 year training and 6 months’ intense internship in different châteaus, she started as a young farmer in 2001. She is very attached to her grounds and vines. It has been 15 years since she’s been making wine which correspondence to her soil and soul. That’s the reason why she opted for organic farming.
All her wines since 2010 are certified by ECOCERT and she says that every year, wines come out different and she adapts to the changes.Her best, award winning vintages are from 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2016
During my lunch with her my conversation continued and here are some insights …
What is it like, running the vineyard as a woman?
“Sensibility and Sweetness would describe it best for me. Making wine is like raising kids. Feminine wines are to me soft and round, fine and elegant. I approach wine more with intuition than reason and technicity.If I took over the vineyard because it is family and helped me going back to my roots. It is effective and I am really attached to this property.Being a woman in a men’s world never was a problem for me, on the contrary my confreres were rather paternalistic and confraternal.”
About the next generation?
“I am a mother of two children, too young to know if they would take back the production one day. They will do what they want, I don’t want to impose anything on them, even if I know that the weight of family and the history of the domain is strong. But I am reassured, because my nine-year-old daughter one day told me that when I die she would take care of my vines!
What about your mother?
“She gave me the taste of work which allowed me to surpass myself and go to the end of my project. She trusted me from the beginning, she was scared initially as She was a doctor like my father and they both took care of Lusseau beside their hard work. At the time, they didn’t commercialise bottles but they thought of me and my love of this soil.”
About woman in one word?
Key take away – Right mind-set, Right Skillset, Right Network
Story contributed by Vani B