Françoise JOYET – Credits © Frédérique Hermine
With the approach of “International Women’s Day” and “Grandmother’s Day” (which falls on 3 March this year), we naturally decided to feature a lady winegrower in this article… Introducing Françoise JOYET-LARUM from the Domaine des Girasols in Rasteau…
From vegetables to grapes
In 1974, Paul et Marie-Elisabeth JOYET decided to escape the fast-growing urbanism of Lyon and came looking for land in the Southern Rhône Valley to enjoy a better climate and embark on a new career; their choice finally fell upon a regrouped, contiguous vineyard of 15 hectares “because they fell in love with the panoramic view looking out at the hilltop village of Rasteau”, explains their daughter Françoise. After having sold the grapes of their first harvests in bulk to a wine merchant, they built a cellar to be able to sell their own wine. They gradually learnt the ropes of winemaking with an oenologist and began selling their production to family and friends, and then at fairs and from the cellar as of 1981.
Between the earth and the sun
The JOYET family had found the word “girasol” in an old 18th-century dictionary. It designates a semi-precious stone, a sort of opal, and the sound of the word reminded them of the French word for sunflower, “tournesol”, which links the earth and the sun like the rounded pebbles of the plateau. Françoise, who had left the Rhône Valley to go and work for a decade or so in Napa Valley in the United States, came back that year to take over the estate with her husband Jon and children Julien and Pauline who had grown up surrounded by vines. “What I love about Rasteau is the imprint of the terroir which builds up its character and the quality of life in the magnificent setting.” The new winemakers at Girasols, which had become the name of the area, wanted to replant Syrah vines, use massal selection of old Grenache and Cinsault vines, and aim for better traceability to fine tune the blends of plots. They also wanted to reduce the aging in barrels “to obtain fruitier and more supple wines, pleasurable wines more in keeping with our tastes basically.”
Opening up the wine cellar
Françoise intends to pursue the estate’s participation in a dozen or so trade fairs “to make ourselves known” and to see through her father’s idea to always have a collection of old vintages ready to drink. She is particularly keen to develop wine tourism in a region that welcomes a great many French and international visitors. “The wine cellar enables us to give people the chance to discover or rediscover our range of wines and natural sweet wines. It’s a real pleasure to make another type of wine from the same varietals. They are increasingly falling into oblivion and should not be allowed to disappear. And when we offer them for tasting, especially with a little bit of chocolate, it is rare that people aren’t won over.”Françoise also wants to conquer the American market that she knows so well by taking advantage of the renown of the appellation. “We must make the most of our image of great value for money for a Cru from the Southern Rhône Valley.”
Article written by Frédérique HERMINE
Bonus – a “one-to-one interview” with Françoise:
A.O.C Rasteau: The world of winemaking has long been considered as a man’s world. What is your woman’s viewpoint on the profession? What advice would you give to a woman who is thinking of entering this profession?
Françoise JOYET-LARUM: “Even if I know my vines, I am more often in the cellar, especially during the harvests and for blend tasting. Personally, I am completely at ease in the world of wine which counts more and more women these days. Thanks to the diversity that the profession offers, a woman can absolutely be fulfilled in her work. Obviously, some aspects demand more physical strength than others, but everyone can find their place, according to their own capacities and objectives. I have found mine in managing the business, welcoming the clients, and promoting my products.
I must admit that I am sometimes tempted to go and get a breath of fresh air out amongst the vines, so I do, especially during the disbudding period (which is not too physical so suits me perfectly).
The advice that I would give to a woman thinking of entering this profession! Depending on age! I would not do it alone! If you love working the land, if you have the humility to accept the hazards of the climate, the patience and efficiency needed for the administrative side of things, and you like sharing with your clientele, then you should go for it. If not, you will need some good support! …A partner you can count on.”
A.O.C Rasteau: Who is the woman that most inspired you?
Françoise J-L.: “I’ve been thinking about this question for a few days and I don’t know how to answer it. I am not a big reader or very scholarly, I like to listen and observe, and lots of women have inspired me during discussions and conversations, and I learnt things during these moments, but I can’t cite one person in particular. What I appreciate a lot in a woman is her wisdom, her intelligence, and humility while being firm and determined.”
A.O.C Rasteau: How do you imagine the woman of the future?
Françoise J-L.: “Perfect (laughs). No, I’m joking, that would be boring!
You mean my daughter, granddaughter and perhaps great-granddaughter? I imagine them being very independent, capable of facing up to things and holding their own. Determined and not afraid to break down clichés. Because the internationalisation of the world will allow them to travel and live wherever they will feel good and in their element. And all that with the cheerfulness, courage, humour, sincerity, and charm that characterizes them!”
A.O.C Rasteau: Amongst all these women, there are grandmothers (grandmother’s day on 3 March) … For you, what is special about a grandmother? *
Françoise J-L.: “The availability that parents who are always busy don’t have. The distance in terms of responsibilities that gives them more freedom for some actions and decisions.”
A.O.C Rasteau: Would you like to share a memory that you had with your grandmother*?
Françoise J-L.: “When I was 15-16, I lived for two years with my grandmother Charlotte in Lyon to continue my studies. She lived alone and we had some great times together, she had lots of friends and pastimes, we went on some great holidays, we played cards every evening, we went out to shows, and we laughed a lot!”
Thank you, Françoise, for talking to us and for your very valuable words!
* Some quotes on the subject of grandmothers:
A grandmother is the marriage of gentleness and experience. Quote by Jean Gastaldi;
A grandmother is a guardian of tradition. Quote by Jean Gastaldi;
A grandmother always finds the right words to console young and old alike. Quote by Jean Gastaldi;
Wine cellar: 603 chemin Vieux de Vaison – 84110 Rasteau
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