Chat with Clémence Quemin
Almost immediately after graduating with an MBA majoring in Wine & Spirits Business Management, Clémence signed an unlimited-term contract as Wine Tourist Manager at the Château Rayne Vigneau.
Clémence, we heard that you were recruited at the end your period of work experience at the Château de Rayne Vigneau. Congratulations! Can you tell us a bit more?
I came into contact with the world of wine through my family, then through Vatel Bordeaux, in particular through Mr. Glorieux, the school’s Director, who did me the honour of including me in the first group to graduate with an MBA in Wine & Spirits International Management. At the college, I learnt all about the traditions of the wine world and the importance of French terroir, thanks to a well-designed curriculum.
During my year of study, I met Vincent Labergère, Director of the Château de Rayne Vigneau, a 1er Grand Cru Classé in 1855, an AOC Sauternes-Barsac, now owned by the Crédit Agricole Grand Cru and presided over by the Managing Director, Mr Budin. I was fortunate enough to obtain work experience there towards the end of my course and I found myself faced with a massive challenge. There had been no strategy to develop wine tourism for the previous three years. My job was to set up a long-term wine tourism business for the Rayne Vigneau estate.
It was an ambitious task but gradually ideas were turned into actions and initiatives. After six months, Mr. Budin and Vincent Labergère were convinced that my strategy would work and they offered me an unlimited-term contract, which I was delighted to accept and determined to make a success.
What does your job consist of?
At present, I am responsible for wine tourism, which means that I welcome visitors to the vineyard as well as being in charge of cellar door sales at the Château de Rayne Vigneau. My aim is to give the estate a bigger draw card, increase visitor numbers, ensure that visitors all enjoy an excellent experience during visits and wine tastings and, of course, encourage them to become long-term clients. It all sounds very simple but it takes a great deal of personal and financial investment, as well as a touch of creativity and a huge amount of energy.
Does this correspond to your intended career path?
Yes, absolutely. I come from a farming family in Normandy and we’ve always considered the land as something sacred. In addition to this, my studies have had a strong tourism focus -Bachelor’s in Tourism Business, Master’s in Hospitality International Management and MBA Wine & Spirits Management. In other words, the three essential aspects of wine tourism. Business acumen develops cellar door sales. Hospitality gives me the skills I need to cater for visitors in this demanding service industry. And my knowledge of wine and wine-tasting makes me a wine professional, giving me greater credibility vis-a-vis other people, particularly my clients.
Are you satisfied with the curriculum in your specialist subjects?
The curriculum was an eye-opener and absolutely essential! It brought me into contact with a large number of professionals in the wine industry and wine tourism and gave me a real passion for this sector of business.
Before beginning the course, I was quite good at Spanish but was must less confident in English. Thanks to all the lectures in English, I acquired a very good level of proficiency and, again, this is an advantage for my career. I now speak English every day, with professionals in the industry and with clients.
Last but not least, the course allowed me to build up a network. Let me give you an example. When he saw that I was doing a specialist wine course, Xavier Planty, Director of the Château Guiraud, 1er Grand Cru Classé in 1855, AOC Sauternes-Barsac, had no hesitation in leaving me the keys to the chateau so that I could open it to visitors at the weekend. The experience brought me a great deal of maturity and was very rewarding. In short, I am totally satisfied with the specialisation.
What will you remember most from your course at Vatel Bordeaux?
The Wine Tours to vineyards in the Bordeaux and Cognac areas. These experiences give you a true picture of the industry. And I will be delighted to welcome the next set of “Wine Specialist” undergraduates to Rayne Vigneau to let them into the secrets of the Sauternes area.
I also enjoyed the training at Cafa, when we could take time to think about the sector that fired our enthusiasm. We were constantly sharing ideas and experiences so our studies were extremely rewarding when it came to honing our tasting skills!!
Is there one memory or one experience you would like to share with us?
I have so many great memories!! Today, though, I remember:
“Grape Harvest Day!!” Waving goodbye to Vatel uniforms and donning wellington boots! My meeting with François Despagne, Château Grand Corbin Despagne, will remain one of my best memories. He welcomed us to the grape harvest in 2014 to show us how hard life is on the land, and how good-humoured the grape pickers are. Most of all, he shared with our year group the final moments in the creation of a wine with great character. The vines had flowered, the grapes had begun to swell then there had been summer storms and a wet harvest – 2014 was a difficult year in Saint-Emilion. We were privileged to meet the technical team at Château Grand Corbin d’Espagne and see how hard they worked, among the vines and in the cellars, to create a very interesting vintage.