The breakthrough happened in 1969 when I joined my grandfather to pick a good bottle of wine deep in his underground cellar where old vintages from Bordeaux and Burgundy were in competition, under a thin layer of wet dust with a lot of other bottles such as Cognac or Armagnac.
Then I had the chance to have a mentor during my teenage years who was working in the wine industry, it was my close cousin: Edward Dekester, distillery manager in Saint André de Sangonis (34 south of France), now passed away.
He transmitted me his love of adventure (he had worked in Brazil and Africa) as well as his ability to adapt himself into a changing world, but also his enological culture. He was fascinated by the qualitative revolution of the Languedoc vineyards in the 1980s.
It allowed me to become the youngest wine cooperative director in 1982 in Saint Laurent d’Aigouze (30 south of France), at the age of 21.
Certainly this was not a hill of Earth, but making 80,000 hl of wine per year helped me to familiarize myself with the oenological techniques and the intensity of work during the harvest season. It must be said that at the time we brought into that winery about 10,000 tones of grape in 21 days…
In 1987, I was appointed director of the “Carignano” in Gabian (34), Hérault wine cooperative of 45 000 hectoliters including the renowned terroir AOC Coteaux of Languedoc. That experience allowed us to get multiple qualitative and commercial successes.
An opportunity occurred in 1993 which guided my career to Madagascar, for a mission of 2 years, where I took the direction of the Millot establishment: Franco-Malagasy venture specialized in the production, collection and processing of tropical products:
- Essential oils of ylang-ylang, pepper, basil, Palma Rosa, kaffir lime… for the perfumery Group Bourjois-Chanel,
- Criollo cocoa preparation for the Valrhona Chocolate,
- Collection and preparation of raw coffee (5000 tons / year), cocoa, vanilla, green pepper, raffia, optical quartz, cinnamon, cashew nuts, pepper.
The building of a concrete jasmine extraction unit and the creation of a vetiver planting have enriched my stay there and made this experience unforgettable.
1996 Back in France, where the proposition to create a top quality wine range to export has been given to me by the SICA at ‘Vignerons Catalans. ” I took in addition the group’s export leadership on Asia and North America market until 2003. I left this company to try to start a new business specialized in Organic Wine. Although it was rewarding in terms of knowledge it didn’t work well, probably because of the deep crisis on wine market at that time.
I bounced back in 2006-2007 by creating with my wife our own company in the council of wine, oenological and business. This new option led me to China to carry out the creation of both vineyard and winery in Shandong Province. I realized there the huge relationship between agriculture and renewable energy.
Back in France, strengthened by this new experience, I turned my company to the development of renewable energy projects in vineyard environment. From 2008, I signed a partnership with the group JUWI AG (Germany), six years later, we built the French largest photovoltaic field with a solar park as big as 87 hectares in Ortaffa (66). I took care of the project development, especially the agricultural compensation part: we have replanted 43 hectares of qualitative vineyards, as well as installations for shepherds and beekeepers.
In 2014, I successfully passed the Design and renewable energy systems setting degree at the University of Perpignan Via Domitia.
Finally in 2015, we have been spending our time working on our small family winery in Pyrenees Orientales (near Perpignan) where we grow organically our beautiful vineyard located onto the Aspres terroir. Based on our experience, we work alongside with few others emerging winemakers to promote wine from Aspres area worldwide. We have with my wife Florence, and children: Loic, Laura, Lucie, Louise and my two elder Lea and Baptiste, the willingness to actively participate in the energy transition, for everyone. Indeed, even Organic viticulture has its share of responsibility when we talk about global warming and earth saving. Hopefully this step ahead will allow leaving to the future generations a cleaner, a greener and peaceful world.
Full circle, I now share my schedule and my energy between my family, Wine and renewable energy.