While phylloxera descends on French vineyards, the young Joannes (my great, great-grandfather) and his vineyard-owning parents build a brand new home from local, golden-hued stone in the small hamlet of Boitier in Theizé.
Who would have imagined I would settle there 124 years later? Thankfully, in addition to owning vines, Joannes soon becomes a “wine and spirits” merchant and his small business manages to survive the coming viticultural crisis …
Harvest 14 will be good, the summer was very hot. Vines have reappeared in the landscape. The saviour, Victor Pulliat, ampelographer at Chiroubles, found the miracle remedy that will immunize the vineyard from the terrible invading aphid, grafting onto native American rootstock.
But if the vine is cured, another misfortune will befall France and the wider world. Albert the son of Joannes, and my great-grandfather, will soon be mobilized to the Western Front. When he returned exhausted by five years of war, he took over the wine business and exploited the few hectares of Gamay replanted at the beginning of the century.
After the Second World War, it is my grandfather Xavier who, through hard graft, restores the small family estate to glory. He is a winegrower, but also a farmer, planting fruit trees and vegetables in the garden.
During the long winter evenings, he grafts Gamay vines for planting on his classic clay-limestone soils.
Despite difficult wine sales, my grandfather forever looks to the future, enriched by all his encounters and indeed by his commitment to agricultural trade unionism.
I came into the world when my father, Albert, began the "change of culture" in every sense of the word.
At the end of the 30 glorious years, vineyard management went from the pickaxe and horse to straddle tractor. From 1967, Parisian students took the place of family members at harvest-time. For a few weeks every year, they through their new ideas, open us up to another world, while themselves experiencing a more ‘earthy’ way of life.
Nice exchange, and again, a sign of destiny that will see me 20 years later travel the globe in search of new horizons, to then return to my roots in the land of my ancestors.
My travels provide the inspiration for my future path in life. I return home in 2005 and eventually establish "Maison Coquard", a collection of Beaujolais wines on the theme of the Family House in collaboration with several local artists.
It’s my tribute to this land, to my family home, to all the people I’ve known, past and present but above all, to the soul of Beaujolais wines.