The ‘Vallée du Rhône Terroir’ programme – “Promoting Rhône Valley and Rasteau wines through training”
For several years now, Inter Rhône has been developing a training programme in France and around the world to raise awareness, educate and build loyalty amongst professionals and consumers of Rhône Valley wines.
Every year, Inter Rhône supports sommelier training in France and Europe through specialised structures, such as hospitality and management schools, apprenticeship and vocational learning establishments (CFA/BTS), and private organisations for example. The idea is to contribute to the training of teachers and young sommeliers. and to provide various pedagogical tools and documents for their classes.
Experts in Rhône Valley wines visit each establishment to give a 3-hour lesson and propose a tasting of six representative wines.
This transmission of information is important in the very complex and competitive world of wine. It will be of use to the students in their training and generate interest in the Rhône Valley wines. For many, especially students from abroad, it is the first time that they have tasted so many wines!
These young ambassadors may then be called upon to participate in promotional operations for Rhône Valley wines within distribution circuits that rely on their expertise.
Initiation seminars are organised to complete the experience. Small groups of teachers and students come to discover the region of the appellation, and learn about the importance of the terroir, varietals, and climate on the wines. The wealth of information that the teachers discover in the vineyards and through meeting with professionals will consequently be passed on to the students.
In France, Inter Rhône also provides various pedagogical supports to the buyers, namely wholesalers, caterers, wine merchants and shop managers. It also regularly offers them training sessions, and supports their internal approaches by providing them with the necessary tools.
And let’s not forget wine enthusiasts…
France is full of wine enthusiasts of differing degrees who are keen to learn more. Inter Rhône continues to contribute actively to furthering their knowledge.
Whether at the Maison des Vins in Avignon through the Afterwork sessions, which offers 2 workshops per month for the Côtes du Rhône, and 2 to 3 workshops per year for A.O.C Rasteau wines, or in wine clubs at top engineering and business schools (themed sessions) or wine tasting clubs (pedagogical sessions), everyone can learn more about Rhône Valley wines.
We have noticed that wine lovers start off wanting to learn more out of simple curiosity and then quickly become hooked!
… and often become equally hooked on cooking!
The new generation of cookery lessons also systematically propose food and wine pairings and Inter Rhône is present in the local cooking workshops of l’Epicurium at the Agroparc Fruit and Vegetable Museum, at the Halles d’Avignon and, of course, in Paris, at the Alain Ducasse Cooking School (A.O.C Rasteau is a partner). And, two years ago, an annual cocktail and buffet event was launched so that Côtes du Rhône professionals can meet Parisian clients.
A.O.C Rasteau also focuses on buyers and future buyers
In addition to Inter Rhône’s actions, A.O.C Rasteau has understood the importance – as well as actions targeting catering professionals and the general public – of creating links and boosting its notoriety amongst future buyers. These include the students in the Sommelier Section of the Hotel School of Avignon, where we present the appellation and offer wine tastings during lessons and gastronomic dinners prepared by the students. We also target established buyers such as those from the Association des Sommeliers du Languedoc/Roussillon/Southern Rhône Valley whom we regularly invite to Rasteau to visit the vineyards and taste Rasteau red wines and sweet wines (Vins Naturels Doux).
Interview with Emmanuelle VOINIER, Head of Wine Training at Inter Rhône, the inter-professional association of Rhone Valley Vineyards.
A.O.C RASTEAU : 10 French-speaking teachers came to Rasteau to discover the appellation and its wines. Can you tell us a bit more about these teachers, and this programme? What were their reactions?
Emmanuelle VOINIER : ““The teachers came from all over France (Paris, Northern France, Bordeaux, Central France, and Normandy) as well as from Belgium. The majority specialise in sommelier training (Mention Complémentaire de Sommellerie), have theoretical and practical knowledge of French and international vineyards, and teach students in wine sales, promotion, and services. The training angle is focused on food and wine pairings and advising the consumers..
The ‘Vallée du Rhône Terroir’ programme reinforces their teaching approach and allows them to perfect their knowledge of Rhône Valley wines”.
Here are some of the teachers’ comments at the end of the programme:c :
« Excellent organisation during this seminar in the Rhône Valley. We have met winemakers and interesting speakers, visited magical places, enjoyed the lunches, dinners and magnificent rooms! And above all I leave with lots of new knowledge, and delighted to have made the acquaintance of new colleagues.»
« Thanks again for the organisation of your seminar. Very interesting discussions with the winemakers, not to mention Georges Truc! Thanks to the warm welcome and energy we encountered this programme will definitely have positive repercussions for our students.” »
« This opportunity to discover your beautiful region from south to north gave me a real insight into the diversity of the vineyards here.»
A.O.C RASTEAU : Since you started participating in the ‘Vallée du Rhône Terroir’ programme, what changes have you seen in the teachers’ ideas about Rhône Valley wines?
Emmanuelle V. : “The teachers are really surprised by the diversity of Rhône Valley wines and the excellent value for money of the wines they taste, especially for the ‘Villages’ appellations. Before participating in the seminar, they tend to have a very theoretical knowledge of our appellations but are not aware of the diversity and dynamism of the region. They are really impressed and always discover interesting wines
A.O.C RASTEAU : Some come from other winemaking regions such as Bordeaux and Burgundy. How do they react when they hear that they are going to visit an appellation (like Rasteau) in the Rhône Valley?
Emmanuelle V. : “Whatever region they are from the teachers are happy to try new things and are open to other winegrowing areas. They like to discover lesser known appellations and talk to professionals to find out more about their expertise, their work, and their passion for their profession. They were particularly struck by the fact that the A.O.C. Rasteau is a young appellation and by the professionalism of the speakers during the seminar”.
A.O.C RASTEAU : Generally speaking, what do they think of the Rasteau wines?
Emmanuelle V. : “The main characteristic we noted in the Rasteau red wines is their force and we appreciated the subtle sweetness of the Vins Doux Naturels
A.O.C RASTEAU : What made you want to launch this type of programme? What do you get out of these experiences?
Emmanuelle V. : “Training and learning is essential in wine promotion, to give future sommeliers a clearer understanding of the profession and, more specifically, of Rhône Valley wines. The idea of proposing training schemes in hospitality schools has existed for over 30 years (Inter-Rhône was behind the initiative to create Specialised Master Classes, the first of which was organised in Tain l’Hermitage) and this programme is still a real success after all this time. So, for that reason, and to highlight what differentiates our winegrowing region, we need to be present in the schools, propose high quality training (talks by accredited Rhône oenologists who tend to live in the production region) and invite teachers to the vineyards so that they can better understand the characteristics of our region’s wines.
Speaking for myself I find it a unique and enriching experience thanks to the discussions with other teachers and our professionals”.
A.O.C RASTEAU : To conclude, the day of the annual music festival throughout France is approaching… What would be your ideal musical playlist to accompany a visit of the Rhône Valley vineyards with teachers, students, or both?
Emmanuelle VOINIER :
- Les Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons for the tradition and vintage aspect
- Happy by Pharell Williams for the conviviality, pleasure and sharing
- Don’t Make me wait by Sting for the longevity and modernism
Many thanks to Emmanuelle for talking to A.O.C. Rasteau!
Emmanuelle VOINIER – Responsable Oeno-communication à Inter Rhône
Maison des vins d’Avignon
04 90 27 24 00
Pour aller plus loin
Autre initiative d’Inter Rhône, sachez que l’Ecole des vins du Carré du Palais (Avignon) propose des ateliers de dégustation, découverte ou accords mets-vins des vins du Vignoble de la Vallée du Rhône. Des formats adaptés à tous, que ce soit pour les amateurs ou pour les plus éclairés !
Le programme Vallée du Rhône Terroir en quelques chiffres (2016)
Professionnels : 7 pays – 126 écoles partenaires – 1500 étudiants en sommellerie – 1400 bouteilles dégustées
Grand public : 220 cours (clubs d’œnologie et de grandes écoles)
780 bouteilles dégustées à l’Ecole Alain Ducasse à Paris
35 ateliers afterwork en région
Source * Le Vigneron Magazine Octobre 2017