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Vendanges Solidaires Barrière: how a committed project has evolved over time

The result of a meeting 9 years ago with Marie-Laure Lurton, a wine-maker from the Haut-Médoc region, the Vendanges Solidaires initiative has a new momentum this year. We look back on a great story all about sharing and working together.

Harvesting gapes to plant new trees  

South west France was hit by disaster back in January 2009: storm Klaus was exceptionally violent, ravaging over 60% of the forests in the Landes region. In response to this ecological disaster, the team at Fouquet’s Paris joined forces with Marie-Laure Lurton, a wine-maker from the Haut-Médoc region, launching the Vendanges Solidaires initiative. It was a highly original and extremely generous concept: Fouquet’s employees would help local teams with the grape harvest and the money raised from selling the wine would be used to finance planting new trees in the Landes d’Armagnac region.

It was a success right from year one, but the people involved had no idea how successful it would end up being. "Back at the beginning, we didn’t necessarily think that the project could continue long term", says Clémentine Concas, Director of Sustainable Development for the Barrière Group with a smile. And yet… like any good wine, the alchemy of the Vendanges Solidaires initiative has worked its magic year after year, going from strength to strength. Once all the new trees had been planted, any more funds collected went towards paying for a village youth centre, a music school and a minibus for disabled persons. All of these achievements have brought new life to the area and a great sense of pride to Fouquet’s employees.

 

 

A new national initiative

The initiative has seen amazing expansion in 2017: “Fouquet’s is obviously continuing with it, but the Vendanges Solidaires initiative is now a Group-wide project. This year, employees have come from all over France and even Switzerland to help with the grape harvest”, says C. Concas, who is highly delighted with it all.

The project is also expanding to include other areas of wine-making. Barrière have paid a visit to Château Saint-Maur Cru Classé in the Var, which produces rosé wines of exceptional quality, and Château Le Boscq in Gironde, which produces AOC Saint-Estèphe – Cru Bourgeois. They both supply wines to the Group and are deeply committed to sustainable development – and they also wanted to join forces with Barrière on a meaningful project.

The experience has its own special flavour in the Var, as the wine harvest takes place at night by head torch. “We told the Barrière team to be at the vineyard at 4.40 in the morning: harvesting the grapes by hand and at night is our trademark! It keeps the grapes fresh and preserves them in the vats”, explains Marc Monrose, Director of the Château Saint-Maur. “We even had to be there in the middle of the night. It was really exciting to share the adventure with everyone!” says C. Concas.

No fewer than 4,000 bottles will be produced from the grapes harvested this year. The project that will receive the funds hasn’t been chosen yet, but one thing is certain: it will be in aid of disabled persons - an issue that remains very dear to the Group.

 

 

A shared sense of pride

Apart from raising funds, the Vendanges Solidaires initiative is also an amazing opportunity to share with others, uniting employees from all walks of life in support of a common cause. “It was n opportunity to bring people together who never get the chance to meet: members of the Group’s Executive Committee worked hand in hand with a cleaning lady, a cook and technical managers for a number of Barrière establishments. Everyone is equal in the vineyard”, explains Clémentine Concas.

And the local vineyard workers enjoyed it too: “There was an instant rapport between our teams and the people from Barrière”, enthuses Marc Monrose. “It all went really well – even better than you could hope for!”  adds Frédéric Bonnaffous, Director of the Dourthe and Château Le Boscq vineyards.

 

National roll-out planned

The Vendanges Solidaires initiative has a very bright future. “Our aim for next year is to help harvest the grapes for the white wine in Alsace so that we can offer an even bigger choice at auction time.” And you can be sure that plenty of people will want to help: “People have been so keen to take part in this kind of initiative that we now have an army of ambassadors for the years to come!” ends C. Concas. Solidarity has a safe future in the vineyards.