Portraits Vignerons - Fabrice Brunel : finis les fichiers Excel, place à la viticulture dans le Rhône - Les Grappes

Fabrice Brunel: no more Excel files, time for winegrowing in the Rhone region

After spending ten years in Paris and working in consulting, Fabrice Brunel chose to return to the family estate of Châteauneuf-du-Pape to take over from his father at Domaine Les Cailloux. At 35 years old, the one who defines himself as an apprentice winemaker ( and for a long time) will give birth this year to his first vintage. Back on an atypical course, between Excel table and return to earth.

Fabrice Brunel: from consultant for Lafarge & LVMH to winemaker at Domaine Les Cailloux.

I started my career in Paris, in production management consulting. I worked for a long time for big groups such as Lafarge, LVMH, etc... But I am an only son, and there came a time when my father had no choice. At the age of 65, he called me and said, "Listen, are you interested in coming back to the estate to take over? If not, I'll have to find a buyer... ". My decision was immediate.

I had the "normal" life of a thirty year old Parisian consultant: I finished work late, I went out, I went around in circles... It was the ideal time to go back to the estate. Making wine is still the pride of producing something real, something alive... It's something else than making Excel tables or slides!

Fabrice Brunel, a Parisian in the Rhone Valley vineyards

I had spent my childhood at the estate. My first memories go back to the harvest, to the very striking smell of the fermenting vats. I used to help my father in the vineyard during the holidays... but from a distance.

Especially since I'm not a very manual person. When I came back to the estate 3 years ago, I found myself in front of a tractor and it was quite funny. I was a real Parisian, I could barely change a light bulb! Making wine is also learning to make something with your hands and it's enriching.

What I love about the Rhone Valley is the sun! It is beautiful every day! And there is also this authentic side of the Provençal hinterland, this calm which I like and which changes a lot from the capital. You almost feel like stopping at the side of the road and just taking a nap.

Fabrice is inspired by his father André Brunel, a winemaker for 40 years at Domaine Les Cailloux.

When you work in the vineyard, you don't necessarily know what you're going to produce. The rhythm is dictated by the soil, by the vines. A fifteen minute hailstorm can very well ruin a year's work. When, like me, you come from the board, with its clear and orderly processes, it's a difficult aspect to integrate. But I try to draw inspiration from my father, who after 40 years of experience in the vineyard is much more Zen than I am!

The first vintage to which I will give birth will in any case be 2016. Personally, I am a fan of Loire and Burgundy wines. That's why at Domaine Les Cailloux, we don't try to make wines that are too warm but rather balanced, with fruit. We want to produce wines that are elegant and that we simply want to finish the bottle! It's up to me today to perpetuate the quality of the wines produced at the estate for a long time. From now on, my future is written here.

Robin (Les Grappes)

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