While on a three week visit in France, Thaddeus Buggs of The Minority Wine Report sent me an email to see if I could be free to come along. Because October is the month that starts the end of the year festivities (and like most people working in the wine Industry, this is a very busy moment which gets worse right up until the end of the year) for me, unfortunately I wasn’t able to tag along for most of his visits. But I did get to go with him for two of the three days while he was in my area of the Burgundy region. He was on a mission (or two) and got to see many vineyards throughout France.
One of his Missions was to visit some of the women winemakers of this region. With about 4000 wine growers in the area and half who sell their wines directly to the consumer, there are approximately 150 women winemakers in Burgundy. It was a bit difficult to visit everyone; however, the BIVB helped Thaddeus by setting up meetings with some very interesting women. Anne Parent of Domain A & C Parent was one of them. She and her sister Catherine have a family Estate that has been making Burgundy wines for many generations.
Anne Parent ancestors have been making wines since 1635 making her the 12th generation to winemaking in Burgundy and the first generation of women winemakers. Etienne Parent was one of the first suppliers of Burgundy wine to Thomas Jefferson when he was appointed the first Ambassador (then called Minister of the US) to France in 1787. Etienne Parent not only made wines, but also bought grapes and wine to sell as a Wine Broker or Merchant.
Being a patriarchal region, the family winery was first given to the brother, who in the end decided to take over the winery of his wife’s family also in the Burgundy region. This in the end left the door open for Anne, who has always wanted to make wines since a little girl. Leaving her career as a lawyer to learn more about winemaking, management and marketing, she and Catherine worked long and hard to obtain the recognition competent of women winemakers today. An ardent golf player, Anne is in charge of the winemaking, while Catherine handles the marketing. With 85% of their production in Export, they sell about 10 to 12000 cases a year. Anne and Catherine have been making wine since 1998 making the next vintage their 14th harvest.
The 10 hectare (25 acres) Estate makes more than half of its production as Pommard and Pommard 1er Cru. Their vineyards are mainly in the Cote de Beaune producing mostly reds with a small production of whites in Corton. They also make Regional Burgundies, Communal, 1er and Grand Cru. They have wine coming from small parcels such as ‘Les Rugiens”, Pommard 1er Cru ‘les Epenots’, Grand Crus ‘les Renards’, Pommard 1er Cru ‘les Argillieres’, just to name a few.
Anne Parent believes that the quality of the grapes is 60% of quality winemaking and the rest depends on the winemaker. “Burgundy was one the precursor to Organic and biodynamic wine growing. Biodynamic helps the vineyard to be stronger while working earlier and slower the vines in a more homeopathic fashion”. They harvest by hand especially the 1er and Grand cru with very strict sorting of the fruit. There are two sortings of the grapes. One in the vineyards on a sorting table that vibrates and takes away the dry grapes and leaves and another table is used for sorting by hand. In 2009, their Domain became 100% organic. “You don’t have bad wines, only bad winemakers” Anne Parent..