Women at Maison Gabriel Meffre: portrait of oenologist Véronique Torcolacci

Véronique Torcolacci, oenologue de la Maison Gabriel Meffre

What are your responsibilities?

I am involved from the harvest right up to technical sales support. I vinify wines at Domaine de Longue Toque with the team there and help all of our partners with the production of our various ranges (such as Laurus and Gabriel Meffre), at each stage of the process: vinification, maturation and blending of the juices. Once these stages are complete, along with my team, we buy the wines and then work on the blends.

I also assist sales representatives with technical aspects. We taste new blends together, so the sales team is able to accurately describe each wine. When we receive business clients, I am often present at the tasting. I can tell them about the varieties, harvest dates and specific characteristics of a terroir.

I work in the field all year round and am therefore able to offer another perspective on our wines' identities.

 

Could you describe your typical day?

I am often on the move and interact with the various stakeholders. During the harvests, I don't spend more than half a day a week at my desk! In my job, it is important to spend time with partner winegrowers. We talk a lot about the way wines are made, the specificities of the harvests and market trends. This helps me adapt and accurately adjust the wines we produce.

How did you become an oenologist?

There was always wine at home with my parents and I appreciated this family tradition. When I thought about what I wanted to do, I was clearly drawn to aromas and tastes. I began my studies in 1989, at a time when there were very few women oenologists. There were four of us in my year group. As far as I was concerned, I knew that I wanted to work with wine, at a storehouse or in production. I became completely wrapped up in it and have never wanted to do anything else!

 

What’s it like to be a woman in today's industry?

I had to prove myself, and my character helped with that. Working with men meant that I had to be tough. There were cellars where women were welcomed, because they were a refreshing sign of change. However, in more conservative places, some producers would not speak to me to start with, because I was a woman. As my experience in the trade grew, I began to feel more at ease and relationships became more equal.

Today, I feel totally at home at a winery where I can speak with everyone, from sales to marketing, storage and logistics teams. We all know each other and share a passion for wine. Wine is all about friendship and sharing!

 

What kinds of personal skills are important for an oenologist?

In a Winery like ours, it is essential to be curious and a good listener.

We make wines for consumption. This means we have to listen to the desires and tastes of various consumers, whether they are in France or on the other side of the world. Consumption trends change over time. It is important to be in phase with these changes and tweak the way we do things, without betraying the origin or typicality of our terroirs. This is where curiosity is important. Our way of life has changed and not many people are able to store wines. It is important to make wines that are pleasant to drink as soon as they arrive on the market.

 

What do you find most motivating in your job?

I have changed a lot since I arrived at Maison Gabriel Meffre 27 years ago. At that time, we produced 4 million bottles, compared with around 12 million today, for more than 50 markets. I have held several positions, beginning with Quality Manager. Each time, Management had faith in me.

Maison Gabriel Meffre works to promote the independence and freedom of its teams.

It is not a Winery where we rest on our laurels. We are determined to pursue our policy of acquiring vineyards and creating new wines. This approach means that no two days are the same for an oenologist at Maison Gabriel Meffre. The variety of my daily work is very enriching for me personally.

I also like the environment I work in. We are lucky to be located in a beautiful region!

 

Finally, what are you most proud of?

I am proud to have chosen a line of work that makes me happy; to have accomplished the things I wanted to do.

I was given the opportunity to do what I wanted. And not everybody gets that chance!