Domaine Anne Gros is one of the Bourgogne region’s most famous vineyards. Anne Gros’ wines are known for their delicate, well-balanced, and elegant flavours. Her domaine boasts an impressive range of renowned grand cru wines, including Richebourg, Clos de Vougeot, and Échezeaux. Gros’s deep knowledge, skill, strength of character, and the passion she pours into her vineyard and wine have won her the support of countless connoisseurs.
A Female in a Male-Dominated Business
At just 22 years old, Anne Gros took over at the helm of her father Francois Gros’s winery in Vosne-Romanée (Burgundy, France), due to his failing health. While Anne grew up surrounded by the industry and had worked there while studying, it was indeed a huge challenge, considering that at the time, her father’s wine business wasn’t as prosperous as it should have been. Anne tells me that she felt ready to take over. She believed that the winery was her destiny and that she had an obligation to her father to keep the winery in the family, especially as she had no siblings. Today, her winery includes making wine in Minervois, Southern France. She produces a huge variety of different wines and her business is a roaring success, her winery is now one of the most coveted names in Burgundy. As the wine industry is dominated by men, she is proud to be a female director after all, in her own words, perhaps except for carrying heavy objects, there’s nothing a female can’t do that a man can. That has always been her belief and perhaps was bolstered by a critical father who instilled in her a desire to succeed and helped to build her strong, independent personality.
Learning the Wine Business from the Ground Up
Anne tells me that she is indeed capable of doing everything required when it comes to running a winery and that when she looks back to taking over in 1988, while she had some limited experience in wine, it was a constant source of education. Never having a mentor, she tells me she gained her own experience over the years, learning from mistakes and always endeavouring to improve. Even today, she still finds herself learning, taking great pleasure in exploring new ideas and building her extensive knowledge. Yes, she obviously understands the business inside out but she started at the bottom, learning the industry’s intricacies until she felt it necessary to employ others to help her expand. Anne reiterates that it is essential to understand every aspect of the business, at every level to succeed.
A Family Business
Once Anne whilst bearing her third child, she felt her winery was in the hands of an excellent workforce to manage both family and business care successfully. Today, her oldest daughter, Julie, helps running the Domaine and her second child, Paul, also works in the business. It is still a very proud family business.
Being a Renowned Winemaker
For those that wonder what it takes to be a great winemaker, Anne tells me she believes that patience, taking risks and being able to generate new ideas are qualities that form the basis for a successful career. She thoroughly enjoys what she does, although she advises good computer literacy too due to the sheer volume of administrative work - something that’s a must for almost every industry these days! Anne also advises learning the industry from the bottom up, as she did - she’s just as used to selecting grapes, crafting wine, being the secretary and making executive decisions.
Along with patience and risk-taking, Anne tells me that her role requires a keen curiosity that comes naturally to her. As an enthusiastic nature lover with an eye for architecture, she relishes using her hands in her day to day tasks. Anne also believes that doing any task at the winery takes diligence. And while at the end of each day, it often feels like only a few tasks have been achieved, the important factor is that each aspect of work is well done with care and attention to detail.
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The Art of Wine Making
While some people may see wine making as an art, Anne doesn’t necessarily agree because there are so many elements to forming the perfect bottle of wine. A lot of it is down to nature, the weather for example, the soil’s fertility, the condition of the ground and of course, there’s no guarantee of great grapes year after year. However, she tells me that there is a special signature that’s applied to each vintage, but she will leave this to the imagination as she believes in discretion and respecting an age-old tradition!
An Instinct for Vintage
So how does one know when there’s going to be a vintage year for wine? Anne tells me she instinctively knows and it’s very early on in the process, straight after vinification when the wine is collected in barrels. It’s at that moment that she can taste the fruits of her labour. Creating a vintage wine is a complex process and Anne relates it to being something akin to miraculous and that’s why so many believe creating wine is an art form!
Dissecting Domaine Anne Gros Flavour
As for the flavour of Anne’s wines, many people remark that it has a feminine, elegant bouquet and I wonder if it reflects her own personality? Anne doesn’t necessarily agree, she believes that men are just as capable of producing an elegant wine flavour and wine is neither feminine or masculine. Of course, as she tells me, there are plenty of female winemakers that produce strong flavoured wines that could be described as masculine. She does believe that it’s possible that wine making expresses the inner-feelings of the maker – maybe that’s where personality appears? However, as already mentioned, wine making is also down to the grapes used, the soil fertility and weather conditions. So, every year three is a subtle change in flavour.
The Secret to Success
Anne’s secret to a successful winery is happiness, she believes that feeling good reflects in her wine and enthuses her team. Obviously, the team that work with Anne make a great deal of difference and Anne feels it’s important to choose your workforce carefully as you need people that you can share the job’s challenges and pressures with. While there are many challenges – the team deal with those as they arise and always with positivity! There is a camaraderie in Anne’s team, they smile, they’re happy and that feeling is emulated in the wine that Anne produces – she wants the people who drink her wine to also feel that camaraderie and pleasure!
The Future of Domaine Anne Gros
Looking to the future, Anne tells me that her ambition was always been to pass on her winery to her children before her 50th birthday. She’s done this, they now control the vineyard and the cellar. Her role is to mentor her children to help the vineyard to continue to grow and thrive. She’s also a proactive thinker and has prepared her estate well so her children are equipped with all the necessary tools to keep the vineyard going long after she’s gone – for the generations to come.
Adapting to Change
Finally, Anne understands things change rapidly, Covid-19 being one of the most recent challenges that has affected the wine industry, because it is obviously linked with tourism and the leisure industry. With the closure of restaurants around the globe, it has meant a slight slow in business but she is confident that it is only temporary. While on the topic of restaurants – Anne’s last word to me is when it comes to drinking wine, don’t forget to accompany it with great food! With so many different cuisines to try, you can travel all over the world (post-pandemic) and enjoy how wine brings out different flavours. There’s no doubt in my mind that Anne’s wines will continue to dominate Burgundy and the business will flourish for years to come.