What has your journey been to becoming a gin producer?
I was born in Bordeaux and was an Oenologist (Oenology is the science and study of wine and winemaking). I wanted to improve my knowledge of sales and marketing. You can produce but you also need to sell. I started working with LVMH in 1989. I worked as a product manager, in charge of wine of course.
After 10 years in sales and marketing I had done my apprenticeships and it was time to start up my own company. I started 'Euro Wine Gate' as a platform for winemakers to get into the US. In March 2001 I was still raising funds and in June 2001 the internet bubble burst, so I went back to doing things the way I knew how. At the time, Diageo was exploring the world of luxury vodka. That is how we started working with Ciroc Vodka and from there we started to develop other brands.
What made you decided to create a gin?
In 2006, I said we can make a gin but we will do it in a different way, and we made G’Vine Floraison. Behind each of our products was aim to bring the attitude of France. The soul of the neutral spirit is imprinted in the gin. Do you prefer to chew grain or grapes!? Our first achievement was to take a grape spirit as a white painting that we could add our imprint to.
At the time, the Cognac industry was in crisis. Vineyards had to reorganise to produce different types of wine as people weren't buying Cognac as much as they were. 50% of our capacity was having to be kept or aged and treasured. So we had the raw material of grapes that make the spirit rounded, velvety and smooth.
How did you go about creating your first gin?
In 2005 I decided to harvest in June and cut the vine flowers on a Friday. We put everything we had harvested in a drum over the weekend to try to preserve it. On the Monday they had all wilted but the air was filled with the floral, fruity flavours that we decided to put into the gin. Floraison has 3 parts – grape neutral spirit, botanical distillates, and vine flower distillate. These are blended and then distilled again together.
How was your grape-based gin received at first?
When we launched, we were not in the current gin craze. When we went to other gin distilling companies some people said that as it was made with grapes it was not gin. To make the gin crystal clear we started to filter it and we also changed the blend to add more botanicals and spices.
Where do the names of the gins come from?
The 'G'Vine' name comes from ‘Vigne’ and we inflated the ‘Gin’ for ‘G’Vine’. Floraison is the flowering season of vines, and after that you have Nouaison when the vines are starting to produce grapes.
What has been the key to G'Vine's growth?
You need 3 pillars. A signature, the quality of the product, and interaction with customers. Passion, technique and marketing. I always try to spread the word, the knowledge and the passion. I'm an evangelist of grapes!
How has the gin industry changed during your time in the industry?
Looking at what was happening in the gin world in the 1980s, Bombay Sapphire brought in premium gin and then the creation of new gins in the late 90s changed peoples’ minds – you can be different to London Dry and be more creative. In 2006, when we launched G’Vine we didn’t just change from London Dry, but from grain to grape. That will be left in our history and we are very proud of that.