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INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH

JULY 2017 - Xavier Buffo, General Manager @ Château de La Rivière, Fronsac - Number of barrels in the cellar: around 800

•    How did you get into the wine business?

With passion! I come from a family of farmers in the Southwest of France. We worked on several crops, including vines, which I have always loved. I was fortunate to study agronomy and enology, that allowed me to work in the wine environment.

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?


When I was a kid, with my uncles during harvests of white grapes for Armagnac. I remember all the smells of grape musts... I also always liked to ride on tractors and harvesting machines, from the age of 7-8 years!

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?

Since my arrival on the estate 20 years ago, everything has evolved greatly, and particularly the approach of the maturity of tannins. We are fortunate to have beautiful clay-limestone terroirs, which provide our wines with this ability to be kept and to express themselves over time.
Also, we try to open our doors to more and more people, bringing art and culture in the Château. To this end, we are co-organizing this year, from July 6th to 8th, our first festival “Confluent d'Arts” in Château de La Rivière.


•    How did you hear about H&A?

Mr. Grégoire, owner at the time, had the first contact with Richard Hardillier, H&A’s co-founder. We have always surveyed closely the cost of barrels, and have had various unsatisfactory experiences. With H&A, it worked right away! Given Mr. Grégoire’s entrepreneurial experience, he knew how to trust people and good ideas. He felt that there was something positive that was going on, with serious people in front of him.

•    What do you appreciate about the H&A services program?

First of all, they are people, who I consider very kind and professional. Then, there were pivotal stages, when we questioned ourselves, and H&A always listened and provided very precise answers. We were able to think and build solutions together. H&A is structured to listen to its customers. That is a key point!

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?


A relationship of quality, fidelity and loyalty.

JUNE 2017 - Xavier Planty, manager and co-owner @ Château Guiraud, Sauternes - Number of barrels in the cellar: around 700

•    How did you get into the wine business?

Somewhat by chance, I worked a few harvests in Saint-Emilion, where everything fascinated me. I was working on a Masters of Science at the time. I then completed my training with an enology degree. The wine environment matched my desire to be outdoors, and to work with nature...

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?


Regarding my first contact with Guiraud, the Sauternes we used to drink at home. Every year, for Christmas, there was Guiraud. My grandfather always had a few bottles in the cellar. I received a family education around quality wines.

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?

Understanding how a vine can give the best possible wine, corresponding to the identity of its terroir, is something that has always fascinated me. This led me to set up, little by little, ecological processes, landscape organization, soil management, biodiversity management ... an overall complex management, and we find that the results are magnificent!


•    How did you hear about H&A?

I was one of H&A’s first clients. Richard Hardillier (H&A co-founder) came to me and introduced me to the concept. I told him this was just brilliant! I remembered the example of a company who had thousands of dairy cows available for rent to farmers. If a cow was sick, it was replaced within 24 hours. Thus, milk producers always had cows capable of producing milk all the time, without any drop in production. He had created a real service!

•    What do you appreciate about the H&A services program?

First of all, they are people, who I consider very kind and professional. Then, there were pivotal stages, when we questioned ourselves, and H&A always listened and provided very precise answers. We were able to think and build solutions together. H&A is structured to listen to its customers. That is a key point!

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?


It is a young team, astute, in perpetual development.

FEBRUARY 2017 - Christine Vernay & Paul Amsellem @ Domaine Georges Vernay, Condrieu & Côte-Rôtie Number of barrels in the cellar: around 250

•    How did you get into the wine business?

Christine Vernay: At two different times! My parents owned the Domaine, where I spent my childhood. As a girl, I was not expected to take over, so I left to another life, for some time... I returned to the estate when my parents were going to retire. It was a new life for me. I love wine, our land and my roots!
Paul Amsellem: I met Christine in Paris, and my in-laws made me discover my first great wines. Ten years later, we had the opportunity to take over the Domaine. This was 20 years ago!

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?


Christine Vernay: It goes back to my childhood. I remember bottling, that was very old-fashioned... With my brothers, we were taking the opportunity to taste the wine, even if it was forbidden. We were young and curious!  Afterwards, I discovered amazing wines from other regions, especially Burgundy and Italy. I was an Italian teacher and did some consulting there, so I have a strong cultural link.

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?

Christine Vernay: My passion, or my struggle if we can put it that way, is to return to safe and clean viticulture practices, to preserve our land, our fauna and flora. It is such a joy to walk around these places that are so rich in diversity and history! The appellation Condrieu, with its famous slopes, was almost forgotten, and my father brought it back to life. This philosophy was transmitted to my brother and myself, and keeps on living today. In short, to me, this is the magnificent journey of a historic estate, with a family spirit and a real desire to do well.

•    How did you hear about H&A?

Paul Amsellem: About six years ago, François Gros, your sales director, now working for you in the United States, came to explain your service offer. I have seen many benefits! After consulting my accountant, I started working with you.

•    What do you appreciate about the H&A services program?

Paul Amsellem: I appreciate the simplicity of the process. H&A facilitates our work: you anticipate our needs, we discuss the contract every year, you receive and pay the invoices, etc. Your proposal is clear, interesting, and ergonomic!

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?


Paul Amsellem: We have a strong relationship. H&A knows the Domaine and the way we work. I know I can trust you with eyes closed!

OCTOBER 2015 - Amanda Lusk-Harlan and Brian Harlan, owners @ Brian Arden Wines, Napa Valley, California Number of barrels in the cellar: around 50

•    How did you get into the wine business?
Brian: My family has had a vineyard since 1903 and I used to spend my summers there. After high school, I moved to Southern California where I got into the restaurant business. That experience led me to working for several years at Southern Wine and Spirits. Next, I moved back to Napa where I spent my days harvesting and my nights bartending in order to develop my own label: Brian Arden Wines. 2007 was our first vintage and we have grown every year since then!

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?

Amanda: Brian and I went to high school together. I was more of the studious type, never having touched alcohol until my first strawberry wine cooler!
Brian: I grew up around wine. When we were kids at the 4th of July parties, our parents would let us drink white zinfandel with some water in it. But my first real wine experience was at my grandfather’s old house. At his house, there is a cellar built into the side of the mountain. Within that cellar, my great uncle would store wine he made using grapes from our vineyard in 1980. The wine was awful when the first bottles were opened a few years later. On my 18th birthday, my dad decided to give the wine a second chance and opened up a few bottles at dinner. Everybody at the table stopped talking, thinking that this was how our Zinfandel was supposed to taste!

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
Amanda: We only sell directly to the consumer and in a few local restaurants. We have a 3-level wine club. The big one is called Master Sommelier, limited to 265 members. If you are in that club, you get a dedicated vine in our show vineyard in front of our winery, and a magnum of wine made from that vineyard.
Brian: It took us 5 years to build this property step by step. We opened our tasting room on May 2nd, and are still working on a few things… This is the first time we have our own facility. We have always been out custom crushing and using other wineries’ facilities. But we wanted to be able to use every possible resource available to us. At the crush pad we use a nice and slow berry sort. In the cellar, we keep the humidity around 75% and the temperature at 59 degrees using a fog machine, combined with an airocide machine that eliminates mold, fungi and VOC’s…
Amanda: And we even have neon lights underneath the tanks! We had our wedding reception here, it was a real dancefloor!

•    How did you hear about H&A?
Brian: Alex Crown (from H&A) was sitting next to me at a bar, and I heard part of his discussion. I left him a card as it seemed interesting to me and I wanted to learn more about this program.

•    For what reason did you start with H&A?

Brian: As a small winery, we really have to allocate our harvest resources to where we need them. Basically, our 2 major issues are payrolls and harvests. We know what our payrolls are every month, but harvests can swing: in the better years you are 20% over, this year we are 3% under… H&A allows us to spread the capital cost over a long-term period, and helps us assuage variable costs. With H&A managing the barrel part, it allows us to take that out of the equation, and focus on our grapes. H&A works for us!

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?

Amanda: Alex does his job very well. He has never bothered us. I really appreciate when he walks in!

 

Photo by Lisa Gift

DECEMBER 2016 - Ludovic David, Managing Director @ Château Marquis De Terme, Margaux - Number of barrels in the wine cellar: Around 600

•    How did you get into wine business?
Very simply, by heading my studies towards this field. I followed a scientific path in high school and decided to get an agricultural engineering degree and integrated the engineer school of Purpan (Southwest of France). My first professional experiences lead me to agriculture and wine. I worked for a farm that produced milk and wine to be distilled in Cognac. I put my first foot in the vineyards at this time, and wine truly made sense to me. I became really interested in this basic product that we can turn into a cultural and technical one. This first experience prompted me to focus my studies and other specializations on wine, and to get the degree of enology. Then, I decided to settle in the Bordeaux area, the largest cradle of wine, and the most interesting in terms of potential of production, quality and especially quantities.

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?
To be honest, I do not precisely remember. I discovered wine in Madagascar where we went to live in my childhood with my parents. The Malagasy wines are the very first wines I have ever tasted. I rediscovered wine when we went back to France, we were living along with this culture since my father was drinking wine every day. While studying, a closer contact with the world of wine was made, and opposed radically as a choice for a career. I could, then, have a qualitative, technical and industrial approach.

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about Marquis de Terme?
I had my greatest emotion with wine when I arrived in 2009 at Marquis de Terme. I asked the winemaker to prepare a vertical tasting of 25 vintages, along with the wines from the cellars, in a way to understand the Terroir. We took the time to taste and appreciate. I have been surprised by the balance of this wine, it was not very modern at first, but there was a true and constant structure: finesse, acidity, light saltiness, somehow iodized, that leads you to re-appreciate the wine… I discovered a wine with a strong personality, a real terroir and a consistency whatever the vintage. The mouth was long and the wines accessible. That day, I tasted blindly a product that I did not know and it helped me to evaluate the potential of the terroir, with the goal of increasing the level of quality. It has been a real moment of emotion that enabled me to make a tasteful, strategic and professional choice to achieve a coherent project.

•    How did you hear about H&A?
With the group Bernard Magrez, when H&A was still a Start-Up. I was asked about your business model and the potential of your offer. And I must recognize that I said ‘Yes’ right away as I found the idea ingenious and practical. The financial offer is clear and flexible.

•    What do you appreciate at H&A?
The flexibility! The spread of the cost of the barrels and the simplicity of this mode of financing is very interesting for us. Your propositions are clear and simple, that really pleases us. This offer is truly transparent.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?
Precise, detailed and especially flexible. Our job is influenced by climatic variations. 2016 vintage in Bordeaux is a real example. H&A makes its offer adjustable in the organization of the finance side; it is both flexible and very precise.

NOVEMBER 2015 - Vincent Chansault, Technical and Associate Director @ Domaine Gayda, Pays d'Oc - Number of barrels in the cellar: around 500 (228L) + 40 (500L) + 12 tuns (20HL)

•    How you did you come to wine?
I followed a scientific course with a particular interest in chemistry. During a post-graduate orientation, I discovered a wine degree program that I followed in Cognac. I had the opportunity to do internships in the Loire Valley, the Rhone Valley and the Roussillon. My first experience at Francis Poirel’s ‘Quart de Chaumes’ (Loire Valley) got me straight into the swing of organic viticulture. These experiences showed me things that are not usually done in Bordeaux, the human experience was rich too. I also had the opportunity to work in Stellenbosch (South Africa) where I met Tim (Ford) and Anthony (Record) who associated me to the development of Domaine Gayda.

•    Do you remember your very first contact with anything related with wine?
Probably during my communion. I still remember perfectly a picture taken by my mother with a glass of red wine in my hand, Chinon or Saumur I think. I come from a family of farmers, and back in those days, every good farmer had a square of land where he grew grapes to make his own wine! To me, wine has always been a symbol of sharing, good moments and friendship…

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
Domaine Gayda was created in 2003. We have our own vineyards here in Brugairolles (in the south-west of Carcassonne) and in La Livinière. We are also looking for exceptional grapes from other terroirs with the help of some other winegrowers whom we are also working with in the planting decisions. We are following the concept of organic growth (Domaine Gayda has certified Organic Vineyards since 2011) and we’re asking our wine-grower partners to do the same. Our approach is based on climatology (Oceanic or Mediterranean influences or even Pyrenean). This explains why our wines are mostly Pays d’Oc indications rather than strict appellations, which gives us more flexibility in our choices.

•    How did you hear about H&A?
Our growth was very fast and strong. 10 years ago, we were producing 10,000 bottles and the business plan estimated around 100,000 bottles. Today, we have reached one million bottles a year! In order to avoid cash flow problems, we started looking for financial solutions with banks, as well as payment terms with coopers, and it was one of our coopers who brought up H&A and its barrel-leasing program.

•    What do you appreciate about the H&A services program?
The freedom to choose any kind of barrels I want! This is a key point of the H&A program that I consider unrestrictive. In fact, I don’t have the feeling that my barrels belong to H&A. Just like when you buy a house, you don’t feel like you’re living in the house of the bank that gave you the loan, you really live in your own house!
It also makes relationships with coopers easier. Once the prices are settled, our relationship becomes purely technical. We only have to focus on ways of enhancing the quality of our products, without having someone waiting to walk away with a check.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?
Transparent, clear… Each year, the contract is discussed. The offer is fully personalized and stands out from a traditional bank offer. Fred (Frederic Bastianini, H&A Account Manager) is always listening to our needs, makes himself available whenever we need, and he knows our projects. Human relationships are essential.

SEPTEMBER 2015 - Susan Boswell, owner @ Château Boswell, Napa Valley, California - Number of barrels in the cellar: around 500

•    How did you get into the wine business?
My husband came to Napa Valley in the 1970’s to build this winery because of his love of wine and travels in France. He was a business genius, who needed to learn every component of the business. My husband and I were married in the 1990’s and I began to learn all the facets of this business that I have grown to love. Learning about the wine business included having first hand experience of every job at our winery. This was essential to understand how my employees feel in their positions; the challenges, the skills and the joys. I realized a need for promoting stewardship in this beautiful valley early on and became involved in my community. I am currently serving on a number of boards, one of them being the Napa Valley Vintners. I enjoy being in the vineyards all year round and experiencing the excitement of harvest. The best thing about the wine business is that there is always something new to learn with each vintage being a new adventure.

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?
When I was about 24, I had a very good friend in France who took my husband and I everywhere, and I learned so much about wine! Wine knowledge was not so common in America at that time…

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
We focus on allowing each of our wines to be the true expression of the vineyard source. We make every effort to be sure that each wine is individual. We are fortunate to have fruit sources from the most renowned vineyards in Napa Valley, Sta. Rita Hills, Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. Robert Parker asked me once: “How did you get all these vineyards?” Somehow with hard work for 20 years…

•    How did you hear about H&A?
Word of Mouth! Someone told me about H&A barrel management and advised me to talk to them. So, I did!

•    What do you appreciate about the H&A services program?
Their organizational skills. They manage to understand exactly what our invoices are and keep good track of them. They work beautifully with our Cellar Master. They keep precise spreadsheets of every single barrel, from when it arrives in our facilities to when it is emptied for production. We totally know all the time which barrels are moving in and out. The fact that they sell our used barrel right when they are empty allows us to keep our cellar in order and provides H&A with fresh barrels. H&A is very precise about the quality of used barrels that shows a very good business sense and makes them a very reliable company.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?
All good! Ken has done a beautiful job and is really in touch with everything that is going on. I am pleased to see how H&A has been growing and understanding the whole marketplace, and that they are becoming very involved in.

JANUARY 2016 - Jean-Jacques Robert, owner @ Domaine Robert Denogent, Fuissé, Burgundy - Number of barrels in the cellar: 367

•    How did you get into the wine business?
I grew up in the wine business! I worked for twenty years for wine merchants, where I learned a lot about management, tasting, and blending... In 1989, I took over the Domain created by my great-grandfather! Having first attended law school, not necessarily compatible with being a winemaker, I passed a one year training program in Davayé wine school. I already had the technique from my experience (my first vinification dates back to 1978), but I needed a degree to take over the management of the wine estate...

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?

I especially remember tastings made with wine merchants, real professionals, highly skilled in the way they select their wines. Just like a musician practicing scales, with the approach of a "nose" in perfumery, we were having daily structured tastings. I was very impressed by these experiences and what they brought me, and still inspire me today, even if I find more pleasure with our wines!

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
We work each block separately since the creation of our estate! It was something new at the time of my grandparents, but now this is now obvious for the whole region. We are in the South of Burgundy with a set of micro-climates and a variety of terroirs that we must work accordingly. I just adapted our practices with modern techniques.

•    How did you hear about H&A?
I heard about H&A through my son Antoine, who attended your annual event in Beaune (Burgundy), with one of his friends. We found your program outstanding, and we got in touch.

•    What do you appreciate about the H&A services program?
The purchase of barrels makes it difficult from a cash perspective. It costs a large amount of money in a very short time, and a barrel is very expensive given its short lifecycle! This may have restrained us in our barrel choices. Our approach with H&A gives us the opportunity to broaden our range of barrels and coopers.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?
Your approach is very agreeable. Our interactions have always been good so far.

FEBRUARY 2016 - Christophe Anney, manager-owner of the family estate Château Tour des Termes in Saint-Estèphe - Number of barrels in the cellar: around 500

•    How did you get into the wine business?
We have passed on wine growing from father to son in the Bordeaux area since 1678, and in a sense we’re the last of the Mohicans of Saint-Estèphe. Château Tour des Termes was the latest purchase of my grandfather in 1930. My father took some distance with regards to wine, and opened butcher shops in Bordeaux, where I grew up. After my studies in viticulture, I took over the management of the estate. My life was predestined! What really motivated me was living in the heart of nature. Also, when you have the chance to travel and see your wine bottle on the other side of your country, you feel proud! I like the idea of leaving a personal signature on a bottle.

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?
It was my first tasting straight from the barrel… When I was young, I was used to spend time on the estate on weekends. One Sunday, my grandfather jokingly proposed that I drink from a pipette in the barrel, like you drink a soda with a straw. I was ten years old!

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
We have a historic identity. My grandfather planted a majority of Merlot, while Saint-Estèphe is known for Cabernet Sauvignon. Thus, our wine is naturally round and elegant, rather than powerful. We keep working this style today. A journalist told me one day: “You are the Saint-Julien of Saint-Estèphe!”

•    How did you hear about H&A?
We had some exchanges with Rodolphe from H&A. Your way of working interested me, in particular the flexibility in the process of barrel entry and removal. We had some troubles dealing with the purchase of American oak barrels that we remove one year later, as well as French oak barrels that we keep for 3 years. Rather than financing the purchase and then losing out on the resale, I prefer to lease this rotating product, which depreciates quickly!

•    What do you appreciate about the H&A services program?
We have been working together for 3 years and are now at equilibrium. It is very interesting to spread the barrel cost over a long-term period. Also, it helps us mitigate variable costs with harvest swings. H&A also makes my life easier regarding logistics, by removing the used barrels before I get my new ones, thus, avoiding excess barrel stocks. It allows our winemaker to focus on racking.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?
Very good! A strong relationship has been established. We can discuss other things besides barrels.


MARCH 2016 - Luisa Ponzi, winemaker and owner @ Ponzi Vineyards, Oregon - Number of barrels in the cellar: around 1,000

•    How did you get into the wine business?
I was born to the wine business. My parents moved to Oregon in 1968 when I was only one year’s old… Before this, my father was a mechanical engineer at Disneyland. Wine has always been part of his life which stemmed from his Italian roots. Along with my mother, together they made several trips to Burgundy where they fell in love with Pinot Noir. They wanted to grow and make their own! Looking for an ideal region with a cool climate, they came up to Oregon and planted their first grapes in 1970 and made their first vintage in 1974. It was the 1960’s and they wanted to get back to the land and have their children involved in a family business. My sister Maria and I run the winery today.

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?
I grew up working in the vineyards on the week-ends… I especially remember working alongside my father in the cellar, pulling the hoses, helping him wash the floors, bottling… we were involved in every aspect!



•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?

We are a pioneer winery in Oregon - one of the first in the state. We have some of the oldest vines in the valley, and over 45 years of experience. The continuity of having my father as winemaker and then myself, gives us an awareness of who we are, what we can do, and the style of wine we would like to make. For the wine industry, and compared to Burgundy, it may seem quite young, but in Oregon we are one of the oldest families!

•    How did you hear about H&A?

H&A came to me and, as I learned about the services that you offer, I became very interested in the concept, it made a lot of sense! We have been leasing barrels with different leasing companies over the years and it was quite difficult to get them to understand the lifecycle of barrels, and how we would use them. They were treating the barrel as a piece of equipment… I love the concept of focusing just on barrels. The first year, we did only part of our barrels with H&A, the next year a little more, and now we are 100% with H&A!

•    What do you appreciate about the H&A services program?
I appreciate the principle of an annual contract that you can just keep on turning over from year to year. It makes life so much easier for us and it is a pleasure to work with people who understand wineries and what we are doing. We removed a few barrels with H&A and plan to remove more in the future, as it is so easy for us: the truck shows up, we load them up and we don’t need to worry about selling them! We also have the good luck of having access to beautiful barrels from Burgundy…

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?

Now that we understand the whole concept, it has become an easy process for us. I believe it is becoming a closer and stronger relationship. As a perk, we recently had a great tasting with H&A in Portland!

JULY 2016 - Thomas Clair, CFO @Oreco, Cognac - Number of barrels in the wine cellar: Around 280,000

•    How did you get into wine business?
I come from a very different field as I was working previously for PricewaterhouseCoopers, which specializes in audits, accounting and consulting missions.
I joined Oreco in 2009, when the need for storage was so important that we had undertaken major construction work. Over a period of 3 years, from 2009 to 2011, we have created nine new cellars in order to reach a storage capacity of around one million hectoliters. Over 7 years, we have built a total of 22 cellars!
Our site in Merpins is now classified SEVESO 2* at a high level.

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?
It is an old story. My grandfather was a winemaker and a distiller. I was about 3 years old when I discovered Cognac by curiosity, and this has become a passion.

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about ORECO…?
This period from 2009 to 2011 was a real turning point for ORECO and gave us a new dimension. Since 2011, our cellars have doubled their storage capacities, each one rising from 20,000 to 40,000 hectoliters. The partnership with H&A for barrel management has facilitated our rapid growth.

•    How did you hear about H&A?
You came to us, and for a while, your short term model didn’t match our way of setting up the storage of Cognac. But with many discussions, together we managed to adapt your offer to our needs.

•    What do you appreciate at H&A?
You have a supportive aspect and make contracts easy to set up. You allow us to save time and focus on our storage business.
You were able to assist us in our growth and adapted your service model to bring us the support we were looking for to develop our cellars.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?
A clear and transparent relationship, with flexibility in your support. You know how to adapt yourself quickly to our changing needs. We appreciate the relationship of trust that has been developed between us and François, who was able to anticipate our needs.

*Seveso 2 was created to cover risks arising from storage and processing activities in mining, from pyrotechnic and explosive substances, and from the storage of ammonium nitrate and ammonium nitrate-based fertilisers.

NOVEMBER 2014 - Pascal and Charles Lachaux, Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux, Vosne Romanée, Burgundy Number of barrels in the cellar: between 400 and 500

•    How you did you come to wine?
Pascal Lachaux: I come from a family of merchants from Beaune (Burgundy). After studying in pharmacy, I fell into the world of wine when I met Florence (Arnoux), with whom I got married. I made my first harvest and vinification with my father-in-law in 1985. Nobody was willing to take over the estate, and he asked me to stay and work with him. I did the Faculty of Enology of Dijon in 1985-1986 and this year is my 29th harvest!


Charles Lachaux: I was born and grew up here. Young, I was not really interested in working in the Domain. It came later, when I was 16-17, I caught the virus in the vineyards. I followed a viticulture certification in Beaune, completed with a Bachelor in Commerce in Bordeaux.


P.L.: Charles has an interesting background to take over our Domain, I would have loved to live his experiences when I was younger:  viticulture certification with vinification in New Zealand, Orgeon, South Africa, and naturally in renamed estates of Burgundy. He has also worked 6 months in London with our UK distributor.
C.L.: This is really a job that you learn on the ground, working hard, and in contact with people.

•    Do you remember your very first contact with anything related with wine?
C.L.: I have some memories that are still part of my life, especially when I wandered in the winery during harvest. I could smell all the specific odors that you only find during this period of time.
P.L.: When he was around 2 years old, his grand-father was used to take him to punch with his feet in the tanks!

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
P.L: This is the 6th generation at the head of the Domain. This is very important to us; the transmission is more and more difficult nowadays…

•    How did you hear about H&A?

P.L.: I remember well a young man who was beginning and whose name is François Gros! (H&A commercial Director in Europe today) This was about 4 years ago… At first, we told him: “We have been making wine for years and we don’t need you!” Yet, we had to take time to listen to his explanation and understand the relevance for us. It is true that, at the time, there were no coopting, or word of mouth from people from other Domain who would have been working with H&A… Now everyone talks about H&A! Other Domains, but also coopers, banks, and auditors of great Burgundy Domains…

•    What do you appreciate in the H&A services program?

P.L.: The barrel removal. The way we manage our barrel inventory made sense to you, and you accepted to manage our whole cellar, even the barrels that had not been financed by your program… I think what I appreciated the most, at first, was that I did not have to tell coopers anymore: “I buy you 20 barrels if you remove 10 of mine!” Today, we buy the way we want. We do not pressure coopers anymore, neither do they. We have a true freedom in our barrel selection. I believe we are all satisfied of this service.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?

P.L.: Excellent! As soon as we need a service, there is a real follow-up.
C.L.: It is responsive, it goes fast…
P.L.: It is well presented and clear. If I need information, they answer the phone... this is important !

JULY 2015 - Jean-Noël Fourmeaux, owner @ VGS Château Potelle, Napa Valley, California Number of barrels in the cellar: around 450

•    How did you get into the wine business?
A long time ago... my mother gave me wine instead of milk! Let's say that I arrived in California in 1980, for a bit of spying, because I was an official wine taster in Bordeaux. At that time, American wines were too oaky, too ripe. I thought that with the culinary revolution that was setting up in the United States, wines style would change to be more refined, and I stayed here.

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?
I was 4 years old, and even then, I was an early riser. My parents were frequently having people over, and the next morning, I was usually going to the dining room, pouring guests wine leftovers in a large glass to drink it. My parents have never noticed this!

 

 


•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
Wine is a pleasure to share! I feel a great satisfaction having none of my wines on e-bay. People buy my wines to drink them, not to resale them. I frequently receive by mail, or Facebook, messages from clients who share their tasting with us. This goes from the picture of their wedding anniversary with my bottles, to the description of their feelings when opening a bottle of 2005... It is a real pleasure, as it shows that they love our wines, and also that they stay connected. I have the chance to sell all my wines directly to the consumers. And many people come to our Tasting House & Garden and spend over an hour with us!

•    How did you hear about H&A?
I have the bad habit of paying! I do not owe a penny to a bank... and then Alex, from H&A, convinced me that it was more of barrel management than just financing. Given that I only use barrels for 1 fill, it involves a lot of logistics and I thought H&A was a good solution.

•    What do you appreciate about the H&A services program?

Removal and resale management. This is not our job and we are not organized for that. H&A has access to a much larger market than ours, with contacts and resources to deal with. This is a very good solution for us: time saving and efficiency.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?
Very good! Everything was well set up and there is a good follow-up.

OCTOBER 2014 - Florent Faure, General Technical Director @ Estager Vineyards*, Château La Cabane, Pomerol, Number of barrels in Chateau La Cabane cellar: around 160

•    How you did you come to wine?
I was born in Corrèze (in central France), from a family who did not make wine. One day, in a train, I was reading a wine magazine and really entranced and passionated by this new world for me. I told to myself: “This is what I want to do!”. So I left my medicine studies to restart from scratch. I activated my network for internships in Sancerre, Burgundy, Bordeaux… I switched to a bachelor in science, then, a viticulture certification before joining the University of Enology of Montpellier. I started working as an enological consultant for La Compagnie Rhodanienne (South-East of France) before coming back to my region of origin, Bordeaux right bank, in Estager Vineyards.

 


•    Do you remember your very first contact with anything related with wine?

My father had a small cellar. When I was 10 to 12 years old, with guests at home, he frequently asked me to get some bottles: “Take whatever you want in the cellar!”. I was really enjoying removing everything, reading and staring at the labels, to finally choose the one that seemed really appropriate, following my child intuition. Let’s say that I was choosing the one that made me dream…

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
2010 vintage was really memorable. The cellar was on fire in March, and that lead us to vinify the wine at Chateau La Papeterie, not far from here. We made this wine in new vats, standing on a concrete slab, and protected by a tent next to the cellars. Ageing was made in barrels in Chateau La Cabane. We used a refrigerated truck to move the barrels from one cellar to the other…  The work was really tough, but everything worked well! This vintage gave me a lot of emotions, as there was so much harmony when we blended vats.
On top of that, 2010 is a real achievement in all that I wanted to make, for me, for the property, for our customers, for the standing of Pomerol who is a member of Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux.

•    How did you hear about H&A?
Florent Arrouy, one of the founders, prospected me in our vineyards. He explained to me H&A’s philosophy and I remember telling him: “This is awesome!”. We started partially, keeping buying barrels on our own, before turning 100% of our inventory under H&A’s program five years ago.

•    What do you appreciate in the H&A services program?
The best asset of H&A is economical, as we preserve our working capital. We renew our barrel inventory every year with a large flexibility. We can add or remove barrels easily, at any time. We can remove barrels after one year, two years, three years… at Chateau La Cabane, this is not regular, and barrels with potential are transferred to some of our other estates before H&A remove them.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?
Relationship with H&A representative has always been very good, and I sincerely appreciate meeting them to discuss about my contract, two or three times a year. Furthermore, H&A is highly reactive: if I have any question or problem, they are always looking for solution as soon as they can.

(*) Estager Vineyards gather 6 estates in Bordeaux Right Bank : Châteaux La Cabanne, Haut-Maillet and Plincette in Pomerol, Château La Papeterie in Montagne Saint-Emilion, Domaine des Gourdins in Saint-Emilion, and Domaine de Gachet in Lalande de Pomerol.

JUNE 2016 - Ricardo F. Nuñez, Manager and Owner @Bodegas Valpincia, Ribera del Duero Spain - Number of barrels in the cellar: Between 900 and 1000

•    How did you get into wine business?
I was born in Argentina. My grandparents were Galician. They started working very young in Penafiel, on Duero’s banks, before leaving to Argentina for a better life. They became wine growers and producers. We promised to our grandfather that we would return to his native land. We came back to Spain and, even though the times were different, we achieved the know-how that he had given us.
We have Argentinian blood. Alberto Cortes, an Argentinian singer who lives in Spain describes our history in one song, “The Grandfather”. All of our Bodegas carry the same story.  This story is my heritage, the love of my parents and my grandparents, and their passion for the soils and the vines. This is the way I came to wine.


•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?
Of course!
During the joy of a harvest, either it is good or not, there is always hope. Since I was born, I was eager to prove it. With my friends, we were used to getting “zahato” (traditional flasks) full of wine. We were curious and we liked to discover the perfumes and the flavors of grapes. I remember the perfumes of the vine and the picking. The flavor of the first grape juice without alcohol.  The smell of fermentations, and the barrel cellar with hints of wood.
Today, I still remember this unique moment when all these flavors return to my memory. I have never encountered such an emotion. I have tasted many wines in my life, but I will always remember the first one. The day I turned eleven, my father invited me to taste half a glass of each vintage.

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?

We produce premium quality wines, thanks to our soils and vines that we take care of. We come from a ludic and dreamer generation of producers.  We are a new generation and we’re able to produce the best grapes, and make great wines. We have an international team of agronomists and oenologists. Some of them, like Roberto Cipresso, are known for their almost perfect wines (e.g. 99 points).


We are very happy and proud that one of our Argentinian Malbec’s recently received 95 points by Decanter . Our young team of specialists like to think about wine, discussing topics such as the future of the wine world. All of this is in their hands. We peak around 1100 - 1300 meters in Argentina, in the valley of Uco (Mendoza). Here in Spain, over the Duero, we are 600 – 900 meters high and our bodega is at the foot of the Castle of Penafiel.  In one part of the world we produce Malbec, and in another, Tempranillo. We get the best from our grapes, and we’re always looking for quality. Every single day, we want to make a better wine, this is why we are so demanding at the time of filling barrels. Imagining the best way of “thinking” about the wine, we’re always seeking the best soils, with the purest vines and the barrels that fit the best.

•    How did you hear about H&A?
We are really demanding about the choice of our barrels and types of wood. For us, it was difficult to gather a complete range of barrels, with various origins, years and coopers at one time. Our Spanish oenologist, who shares the same philosophy, found himself facing a “Universal Library of barrels” and we needed very different barrels.
 We heard that H&A could provide us with a large range of used barrels (origins, coopers, capacities, etc.). That was really new to us! In a short period of time, H&A provided us with barrels “signed” by Cipresso. That would have taken much more time if we had used another way of acquisition.
 
•    What do you appreciate at H&A?

Good professional practices, excellent services, transparency of the offer, relevant financial proposals, with an open mind to special requirements. We know their removal process, as well as the quality controls they make on barrels and in their logistic hub, where orders and deliveries are prepared. H&A came to us at the right time and allows us more time to care about our wine.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?
A good relationship, very professional, and we can easily discuss each operation. Recently, I have followed an exchange of mails between H&A director and an oenologist and could see that they were very sensitive to the relationship they have with their clients. To me, this is the right way to maintain a constructive relationship. H&A is a good company with clever people.

SEPTEMBER 2014 - Basile Tesseron, Manager of Château Lafon Rochet, Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Estèphe Number of barrels in the cellar: around 600


•    How you did you come to wine?

From birth! I left it a few years to gain perspective. My father always told me "there is very little chance that you ever take care of an estate", so I went abroad to work in other places: in London in communication for a luxury group, then back in the world of wine as a trader, then as a broker, before joining Lafon Rochet.

 


•    Do you remember your very first contact with anything related with wine?
I especially remember my first contact with the aromas. I have a grandfather who was the winemaker for Maison Lillet in Podensac, and he made me get into his office where there were all these smells of citrus, decoction of fruits... it still helps me today to make the differentiation between flavors.

 

 

 

 

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
The quality of the people working here! This is a family Cru with a great team. It is said that « terroir » is a mix between the soil, the climate and the people. We have an exceptional terroir to produce a nice wine and we try to do our best to get the best quality!

•    How did you hear about H&A?
Alexis Brousse, a childhood friend with whom we talked a lot, explained to me everything H&A is offering. I knew one day we would be coming to H&A, it is a natural movement today to go to this service that no one else offers.

•    What do you appreciate in the H&A services program?
Financing solutions, Trust, People who really care about the financial flows that we develop together, and who are also interested in our barrel sourcing, to understand our choices and needs.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?
Friendly, pleasant, regular... We are trying to build a long-lasting relationship over years. The relationship with H&A is a one that naturally maintains over time.


APRIL 2015 - Michel Garat, Director of Vignobles Bastor-Lamontagne (Sauternes), Beauregard (Pomerol), Pavillon Beauregard (Lalande de Pomerol) and Saint Robert (Graves) - Number of barrels in the cellar: around 600

•    How did you get into the wine business?
I was naturally drawn towards wine for personal taste. I followed agronomist and enologist degrees in Montpellier. To me, viticulture is an exceptional agriculture, and you have the time for yourself, the time of the vine. There is also an opportunity to affix a brand on the product you make.

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?
Family meals! My grandfather was a Notary in Medoc, and there was no great family meal without a nice bottle: Chasse Spleen, Leoville Las Cases, and other bottles that would be more difficult to get today... but so good!

 

 

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
We could mention Sauternes, usually less known... Its production is fascinating! There is a true artisanal aspect, every detail counts. This is also true for red wines you could say, but with Sauternes, the possible range is wider. The fingerprint style and expression of a character are more important there.
I mention this with hindsight as I have participated in the creation of our wine division in 1987 when I came to Bastor-Lamontagne and Saint Robert, then in 1991 with the acquisition of Beauregard and Pavillon Beauregard. Last July, we made a step forward with the arrival of new owners, the Moulin family (Galeries Lafayette) and Cathiard family, who bring us their wine expertise.

•    How did you hear about H&A?
We are a member of Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux. While travelling or during tastings with colleagues, we share a lot of information on the way we work. The pooled experiences are quite interesting. Regarding H&A, word-of-mouth has worked well! We were reassured by the practical aspects, by the fact that it runs well!

•    What do you appreciate about the H&A services program?
We had a real problem with used barrels that H&A manages now. This was not our business: we did not have the clients, we were not doing it at the right time, it took up too much room in the cellar, we did not sell everything at the same time, and we encountered problems of capital gain or loss...
From a technical point of view, we wanted to reduce the number of barrels and increase in quality, and take only the best on the first two years. Thanks to H&A, we have adapted the lease terms to the way we work, which was not possible when we had to buy them. We pay for our usage of our barrels, not for the ownership of them. It may sound more like an Anglo-Saxon vision, but it suits us well.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?
Excellent! People from H&A are attentive and we always have a quick response when we contact them. Barrel removals are well done. I like the principle of analysis before racking. It gives us some information that we did not systematically control before, and it ensures buyers to get “fresh and ready-to-use” barrels! Generally speaking, their model allows us to devote our technical efforts and staff to useful tasks, meaning in the vineyards and in the cellar, rather than reselling used barrels…

JULY 2014 - Katy Wilson, Associate Winemaker @ Kamen, Sonoma, California - 250 barrels in cellar

•  How you did you come to wine?
I grew up on a walnut orchard in the Central Valley of California and studied agricultural business at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. One of my professors was talking about wine and it just clicked for me. I knew that I wanted to become a winemaker. With wine,  you really create something! After earning a degree in wine and viticulture as well as agricultural business in 2005, I travelled to Australia, New Zealand and set up in California at  Kamen Wines in 2009 and created my own label, LaRue Wines.

 

 

•  Do you remember your very first contact with anything related with wine?
My first wine tasting was in college. Growing up, my parents did not drink wine, but now they love wine.

•  Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
In Kamen, everything is from our own vineyards. Robert started with nothing, purchased the property in the late 70’s and planted the vineyards in early the 80’s. It represents 200 acres, but there is only 50 acres planted as it is very rocky. A new section of vineyards has been planted 5 years ago, and they had to use machines to dig the soil to be able to plant!

• How did you hear about H&A?

I don’t  remember, it’s been too long ago… I know that Ken was the first person I met.  We started chatting about the program and it sounded like a great idea!

• What do you appreciate in the H&A services program?
The biggest thing is that there is not a huge sum  of money you have to pay for at once. It is good for the financial side of the winery. Also, it is very nice to be able to order used white barrels from H&A in France, because they can be hard to find.


• How would you describe your relationship with H&A?
I find it a pretty easy relationship and everything gets taken care of efficiently.  I have recommended H&A to several people, who are now working with H&A.

MAY 2016 - Allison Engman, Chief Operations Officer @ Ambassador Wines of Washington - Number of barrels in the cellar: around 50

•    How did you get into the wine business?
I used to work in the banking industry. I’m a former officer of Washington Mutual Bank, where I oversaw retail sales campaigns and the branch management training program for the Western Washington market. After leaving the bank in 2006, I worked in the Event Planning industry assisting with events such as the Washington Wines Festival and the Evening of Hope Gala. I joined Ambassador in 2011. Ambassador was founded by group of individuals who all had “day jobs” including my father who is the majority owners of the winery. There was a need for managing all facets of the business including sales, distribution, marketing, events and compliance. I took on the challenge!

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?
The first time I tasted wine, I think was in the mid-1980s. My dad loves French wines… I can remember my parents drinking Lynch Bages almost every night.  I’m sure that is the first fine wine I ever tasted.

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?

We are very fortunate to own 30 acres of land in the world class growing region of Red Mountain, one of the best AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) in Washington. We have planted many varietals, including Cabernet-Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Grenache, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc. Sarah Goedhart and Tom Rinaldi are key components to our success. Tom’s mentorship of Sarah combined with his three decades of winemaking in the Napa Valley brings the experience we need to create the best wines possible from our small estate vineyard on Red Mountain.

•    How did you hear about H&A?

Our financial consultant recommended me H&A for barrel management. The whole set of services really made sense to me and made the process easy. We needed a lot of human and financial resources to run the start of our winery!

•    What do you appreciate about the H&A services program?

First of all, I appreciate the simple fact of gathering all invoices and sending them to H&A for payments… H&A deals with administrative details, not me. From a financial point of view, it allows me to spread the costs of the barrels. Also, H&A makes it easier to sell my used barrels. While I don’t have to think about barrel issues, I can focus on other matters in the winery: our tasting room, marketing issues…

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?

Alex Crown, from H&A, made it easy for us, he is always there to answer my questions and everything works out well…

JUNE 2014 - Jeff Cohn, Owner and Winemaker @ JC Cellars, Oakland, California - 500 barrels in cellar

•    How you did you come to wine?
I have a culinary degree and one in hospitality management. I have worked in the hospitality fields, restaurants and hotels. I have always been exposed to wine, but my first experience was a class I took in Miami and we spoke about blends. My first eye-opening experience was a Chateauneuf-du-Pape!

•    Do you remember your very first contact with anything related with wine?
My first contact was a very bad experience! I was probably 14; I still have a hangover… The first time I had a delicious experience was probably with Champagne in the early 1980’s.

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?

I like using large barrel formats! They retain the freshness and the fruit better for some wine, especially Mourvedre, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Zinfandel and Grenache. I am looking for a little bit of reduction which I find with larger formats.
Every year is an experiment! I have been experiencing since 1996. I am constantly trying to achieve greatness, and that passes by experimentation. I don’t think, in my mind, that I will ever achieve that…

 


•    How did you hear about H&A?

I think that was a normal business contact: you made a phone call and we had a meeting.

•    What do you appreciate in the H&A services program?

It helps to manage our money better. It makes life easier, so we don’t have to think about this all the time. It allows us to make other things without having to worry, to focus on other projects for my wines.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?
We have a very good relationship! Mario is not pushy, he is very easy-going, understanding: he knows what we are trying to achieve and always follows through. When barrels were delivered, he was there!

MARCH 2015 - Jean Hoefliger, winemaker @ Alpha Omega, Napa Valley, California - Number of barrels in the cellar : around 3,000

•    How did you get into the wine business?
Living in Switzerland, I told myself it would be interesting to work in finance and asset management. After 2 years studying law in Lausanne, I learned a lot about playing cards and drinking wine. I spent all my free time tasting and visiting wine regions. Recognizing that my recurring theme was wine, I went to see my godfather, who was working on a family estate in Switzerland. Then, I traveled to the wine regions of the United States, South Africa and Bordeaux, and followed with wine studies at the Federal School of Changins. In 2001, I came back to California to work for Newton Vineyards, before joining the project and opening of Alpha Omega winery in 2005.

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?
My family has a nice wine collection, and there was often a nice bottle on the table when I was young. At the age of 3 or 4, I dipped my fingers in wine glasses to have a taste.
    
•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
I consult for 15 Domains in the United States, Italy and Switzerland and work on 70 labels. My style? I like full-bodied wines with acidity. We could say that the spine of a wine is its acidity and its skeleton is made of tannins. I consider these two components necessary for good aging. I love making wines with spontaneous fermentation. Wood exchanges appear earlier in the winemaking process and allows for more rounded wines. I was probably the first to ferment in barrels in 2001. Last year, I barrel fermented 1,400 barrels with all of my clients and now, many are working this way in Napa Valley!

•    How did you hear about H&A?
I've met many people who talked about H&A and I shared the principles with Michel Rolland, with whom I make wine. I find the business model extremely smart. This company has understood the market, is very dynamic, and has a strong culture of success. This is not common in Europe, even less in such a traditional wine world. As for oenological techniques, there are two ways of thinking: either we keep the secret, thinking that makes the difference or we share our best practices to make things evolve... to me, it's worth sharing!

•    What do you appreciate about the H&A services program?
Even if we are a profitable winery, I would first mention the management of cash flow, well-negotiated interest rates and regular payments give undeniable clarity to our business. This allows for investments within the winery. Regarding production, H&A removes the barrels in a simple manner. This allows our team to focus on improving the quality of our wine and ensures we are optimizing our company management.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?
I love the relationship I have with H&A. I know the staff, I find them to be dynamic with a strong entrepreneurial sense!

MAY 2014 - Dan Barwick, winemaker @ Paradise Ridge, Santa Rosa - 500 barrels in cellar

How you did you come to wine ?
I was born in the UK and sold wines there in the 70’s and 80’s and came for the first time in California in 1987. I spent several years travelling around the world (Burgundy, South Africa, Australia…) and set up in California, joining Paradise Ridge in 1998.

Do you remember your very first contact with anything related with wine ?
We were vacationing in the South of France during the summer when we were kids, 8 or 9 year-old, and on Sunday lunch, we would be allowed Rosé and water mixed together.

• Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
My style is about elegance, finesse and complexity. I might like natural acidity and lower alcohol level. An unusual point is that I am one of the first to pick the grapes in the vineyards in the area.

• How did you hear about H&A ?
I heard about H&A 4-5 years ago and started working with last year. I learned better about what H&A is doing, particularly sourcing quality used-barrels to complement my barrel programs.

• What do you appreciate in the H&A services program ?
- The cost of barrels spread over the year for a better cashflow management.
- The time saved on administrative purposes: H&A makes my life easier for the ordering and financing standpoints, I have paperwork eliminated from my life. Then, I can involve more in the vineyards and physical aspects of the wine: this is a perfect scenario!
- The sourcing of high quality used barrels to complete my barrel programs

• How would you describe your relationship with H&A ?
I have a good relationship based on trust. They are always ready to fix solutions when needed.

APRIL 2016 - Caroline Artaud, Administrative and Technical Director @ Château Fourcas Hosten, Listrac- Médoc - Number of barrels in the cellar: around 500

•    How you did you come to wine?
Since I was young I have loved biology, so I started my scientific studies with the aim of working in genetics. I discovered the wine world through an internship at Chateau Fayat. Then, with the Medeville family, I have been involved in all the propriety’s activities and  worked all the jobs. It was a revelation for me, a love at first sight moment, and I wanted to make it my job. I decided to complete my engineering minor with an oenologist degree. With the support of my boss, who is very kind and has placed his confidence in me, I kept on training especially in accounting, in order to have a global vision of the wine industry. I love my job and I’m happiest when I’m in the vineyards.

•    Do you remember your very first contact with anything related with wine?

Yes, it was with my dad. As a big fan of Médoc wines, he initiated me into the wines he loved. With the wines from his cellar, he passed his passion to me, without knowing that one day I would work in the wine industry.

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
I would like to share one of the moments that touched me the most at the estate…

 

There had never been a bottling of white wine at Fourcas Hosten. Yet, our former cellar master, who worked here for 40 years, told us he used to make white wine in the 1960’s for the owners. At the beginning of the 20th century, white wines were much more common than red wines in Listrac. Our terroir, our geographic location on top of Listrac hills, as well as the very good conditions that we have to produce excellent white wines, creates a little bit of history in the bottles.

On September 8th, 2014, we harvested by hand, together, the first grapes of Sauvignon Gris. Early in the morning, the sun and the freshness turned the grapes pink, almost fluorescent and all the staff was there. It was a touching moment.

For the first time, we bottled Fourcas Hosten’s white wine, grown in an organic way.
It was important for us to make this shift.  We play a role in environment and this lead to our sustainable wine-growing approach.

•    How did you hear about H&A?
I’ve heard about you very early at Château La Garde and, at Fourcas Hosten, we were already working with you. I’ve always appreciated Richard (H&A co-founder) who is a straightforward person, very energetic and available. H&A is a very dynamic company. All the people I talk to and I work with, like François Pelletier, are very kind and approachable; it’s so easy and nice to deal with you.

•    What do you appreciate in the H&A services program?
We were really seduced by your barrel removal services. Dealing with our inventory has always been complicated, and now you make our life easier. For us it’s a good investment, as it gives us time to focus on our work. I can be more involved in relationships with coopers and you deal with the rest. These are not the only reasons we work with you. You do a great job and things move on quickly.

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?

A professional relationship, simple and clear! Above all, I like this company, your energy, skills and quality of exchanges. I agree with your values and it’s always a pleasure to work with you, as a partner. 

FEBRUARY 2015 - Carol Shelton, winemaker and co-owner @ Carol Shelton Wines, Sonoma, California - Number of barrels in the cellar: around 1200

•    How did you get into the wine business?
Wine has always seemed to me to be the most creative science that exists. I was one of the first dozen women to get a BS in Fermentation Science at UC Davis in 1978. I worked in challenging cellars like Robert Mondavi, United Vintners where I did some research on how to make wines with low alcohol, Windsor Vineyards where I had the opportunity to bottle 45 different wines each year, representing 200,000 cases… To me, winemaking is not a formula, or recipe. I adapt to each vineyard and vintage and try to balance high quality with consistency and still make money. I started to make my own Zinfandel in 2000 and also deal now with many other varietals, a dry rosé, and a brand new chardonnay!

 

•    Do you remember your first experience with wine?
When I was 15, I stayed a few days in Paris. One night at the Moulin Rouge, I was young and I would have never been able to drink at home, but we had real Champagne! I was so dazzled that I did not realize that the girls had no clothes on!

•    Is there anything special you would like to tell us about your winery, your labels…?
My Zinfandel! People think that Zinfandel is high in alcohol, and they are afraid of it with food… When it is too overripe, it does not express itself very well. My goal is to introduce people to the idea that Zinfandel can show better than any other varietal if you don’t pick it overripe, if you keep the alcohol level lower than 15%, and don’t use too much new oak or residual sugar.

•    How did you hear about H&A?

I've known Ken Seymour for many years. When he started at H&A, he did an introduction but I did not use them right away, as I was already working with a bank… But I ended up working with H&A for their services!

•    What do you appreciate in the H&A services program?

I like that H&A keeps the database of what I bought and what I am leasing. And when I want to sell my barrels, they are my partner and part of the deal. It is a complete relationship, not just based on money, but on service!

•    How would you describe your relationship with H&A?

Leasing agreements can be very complicated. It is just their nature. H&A makes leasing easier to deal with!