It’s been a long time since a 20-minute program about wine has been shown on one of the major television channels in France. Collaborating with the crew from the French channel TF1 we had worked since the month of August on a story on one of the big names in wine that we advise – the Drouhin family in Burgundy. And what a joy it is to see at last lengthy and interesting coverage of wine on prime-time TV, in the weekly « Sept à Huit » news and information program. Because here we’re talking about culture and history, and not the promotion of alcohol as certain detractors like to suggest. Wine is an art, an ‘art de vivre’ which has been an integral part of French culture for centuries, and for which France is justly famous around the world. This fascinating, but demanding, world is also the livelihood of devoted men and women, one of the biggest agricultural employers (more than 500,000 jobs, both direct and indirect) and the second biggest export business in France after aeronautics, bigger even than the perfume and cosmetic industries. So it is a great pleasure to see wine return once more to favor on French television, for, as I myself wrote here a few months ago, why should Wine always be demonized in France?
Is it the declaration of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, “I drink wine at lunch and dinner” that has shifted attitudes on this subject? All that no doubt helps, as it was extremely difficult get this type of subject accepted on a high ratings program under previous presidents. Even at a time when our European neighbors (The UK, Italy, Spain, Belgium…) all have TV shows devoted to wine! Over 3 million viewers were able to watch and understand that, just like gastronomy, wine is an irreplaceable living treasure for France. The story that was shown, about the 2018 harvest in the heart of Burgundy on an estate which has been in the hands of the same family for many generations, demonstrates that wine has been a high value product for centuries. That, following the example of the Gallo-romans, noblemen and the clergy planted vines from the middle ages onwards. That wine has always been a symbol of power. That the “appellation d’origine” has raised French wine to the rank of cultural exception which is the envy of the entire world. It is indeed a key factor in the country’s touristic development, generating revenue and creating employment (as witness the success of the numerous wine tourism projects that have sprung up over recent years, and the already over a million visitors to the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux). It is also a sector with a bright future, offering opportunities in a multitude of professions at a time when vocational counselling is a major subject. It also highlights the lot of estate owners who, far from being idle millionaires living in the lap of luxury, work hard to preserve ancestral traditions and skills and refuse to surrender their family heritage to big international groups who make overtures to them on a regular basis.
So will we see more and more long programs devoted to wine on prime time TV in France? We certainly hope so. We have been turned down so many times since VitaBella Luxury & Lifestyle was founded in 2004 that this change in attitude is immensely gratifying. Presenting the skills of the Drouhin family, talking about organics and respect for the environment, showing the collectors who come to France through passion from all around the world…. To my mind all that does not promote alcohol but, on the contrary, highlights the essential values of a unique French way of life that adeptly combines wine, gastronomy and the culinary arts, three spheres of French excellence that we would be completely foolish to jettison when our Italian, Spanish, Greek and Portuguese neighbors make them the veritable emblems of their country. And who better to speak of them than a family (like all the members of the most prestigious association of Wine families, Primum Familiae Vini, including Famille Perrin, Sassicaia, Vega Sicilia, Symington, Torrès, Antinori, Pol Roger, Hugel, Mouton Rothschild, Egon Müller and Drouhin) – the Drouhin family. A family who has transmitted their passion from generation to generation, fighting daily to keep this family enterprise alive in the face of rising pressure from large international groups who are gobbling up these treasures, symbols of a refined European art of living. And it is perhaps not insignificant that this program was shown on the Sunday during European Heritage Days. A superb documentary that will, we hope, be followed by many more!
Watch the program (in French): Vendanges 2018 chez la Famille Drouhin