Demoiselles of Bordeaux Wine: Emilie Gervoson of Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion

Wine world  especially as far as winemakers are concerned used to be a male bastion.

In all wine regions, even though they are still a minority, women are taking charge. A few of them were part of the Bordeaux contingent at Soiree des Grands Crus in New York on January 27, 2011.

I talked with 2 young ladies, Emilie Gervoson, from a family owned property, the other, Anne Le Naour, in charge of winemaking for 4 estates owned by a financial institution.


Demoiselles of Bordeaux Wine, Part 1, Emilie Gervoson of Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion

Q: Emily, how long has your family been involved with Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion?

Chateau Larrivet's history goes back to the 1800's. My parents bought the property in 1987. They started with 18 hectares. Today it has grown to 72 ha. About 50 of them were replanted including 40 since 1990. 60 hectares are dedicated to reds and 12 to whites.  The age of the vines now averages 25 years for the reds and 20 for the white.

Q: With growing size of the vineyards, have changes been made to winery itself?

The chaix were expanded first in 1995-1996 and again in 2007. An event space was created with 2 rooms, one that can accommodate 50 people, a larger one with view on the vineyards  can host up to 300 guests and special events. Latest addition is a tasting room and shop opened to the public 6 days a week year round and Sundays in July and August. During summer months, on rainy Sundays, we are a prime destination for people vacationing in Arcachon.

Q: Did you study oenology?

Not at all, I went to business school in Paris and then worked in event management field until I turned 30. I felt like a change of life and joined my parents' endevour.

Q: Who handles the winemaking duties ?

My father has his say. Michel Rolland consults with us for the reds while whites are mostly maitre de chaix Patrick Meraz' s babies. Our general manager, Bruno Lemoine also takes part in the process.

Q: What changes has your arrival brought?

My influence is more on the communication and marketing side. My parents had a traditional Monday to Friday approach to work.  I convinced them to open to the public on week-ends without appointment.  I brought fresh touches to our image starting with a set of 3 business cards, a generic one, red lips for the red and a drop of wine for the whites. We also expanded our online presence. As far as wine goes, our Ateliers Primeurs (Primeurs workshops) early April, both in Bordeaux and Paris give attendees a chance to taste Primeurs side by side with Vintages. It has proved quite popular.


Q: Do you think that Bordeaux wines suffer from a stuffy image?

That perception is one you find abroad rather than in France.

Q: In past 10 years have any wines been added to your portfolio?

Yes, in 2004, my parents created a second label, Les Demoiselles, named after us daughters, a white and a red.

Q: Where is Chateau Larrivet most popular?

France still represents 40% of our sales  after that UK and northern Europe followed by China, Japan and the USA.


Q: What's your latest project?

I embarked on a study of people's reaction/ interaction with wine in various countries. I am trying to find out how a better understanding of local cultures can help us introduce ourselves better, anthropology meets marketing if you will.

Thank you Emilie.

Give us a few days before we serve Demoiselles of Bordeaux Wine, Part 2 with Anne Le Naour.

(* Photo of Emilie from program of Soiree des Grands Crus, other 2 by Philippe Roy)

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