You might already have enjoyed Delphine Morel’s wines at Hôtel du Léman – “Le Chantey”, a Chardonne Chasselas, perhaps, or “Le Nectar”, a blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Gamaret. We like to work with local producers and promote their products, as we believe that doing so forms part of the social responsibility of any hotel establishment. With her unconventional career path, we thought you would like to meet this young Chardonne wine-grower. Here’s the interview!
Hôtel du Léman (HDL): Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
Delphine Morel (DM): I’m 32, and I represent the fourth generation of the “Morel Jean-François vigneron encaveur” family estate in Chardonne. Although I was practically raised in the vineyard, I worked in sales for seven years first. Then I got fed up with being inside all day, and the obvious thing to do was return to wine-making. I went back to study at the Ecole d’oenologie de Changins from 2011 to 2014 and did a three-month placement at a cellar in South Africa, and since 2015 I’ve been working on the estate with my parents and an employee who has been with us for 32 years!
It’s also good to get away from the vines sometimes! I like going up into the mountains and cycling, and I also practice yoga to put my back in place after bending over the vines… I love travelling, but in this line of work, you can’t just get up and go any time. You have to wait for the period before the grape harvest, and winter. When I travel, I often go and see where there are vineyards, and I try to taste wine whenever possible. Sitting on a beach is fine for a couple of days. I prefer more active holidays diving, or ski trekking for example. I struggle to stay still, but it also does you good to rest!
HDL: What did other people think when you decided to become a wine-grower?
DM: People are happy that there’s a new guard coming up in the industry. I often sense admiration. My parents didn’t want me or one of my sisters to feel obliged to take over the estate without having a passion for it. They’re proud that it’s continuing! I was already attracted to the business when I was little, but at the time I said to myself that it was more of a man’s job.
As a woman, I didn’t find it difficult to integrate. Also, there are more and more women in the business. When I was studying at Changins, there were 50% men and 50% women on the course. But five years before my time, there were only two or three girls per class! The wine-growers in the village can also see that I work the soil and tend the vines, and I’m not just there for decoration. We’re lucky that the wine-growers in our village get on very well. We’re more about working together than dragging each other down.
HDL: How is the grape harvest looking this year?
DM: It’s looking good. The grapes are ready early so we’ll start picking around the 20th of September. Some of the vines suffered a little due to the dry summer, but the grapes are excellent. The bit of hail we had at the beginning of August only affected about 10% of the grapes on certain parcels. You can’t choose the weather, which is what makes the job interesting, as it’s not just the same thing every year. During the grape harvest, there are about twenty of us in total, locals and friends. It’s my favourite time, it’s sociable and festive, the culmination of the year’s work. Once the grapes are vatted, we’re happy! Until then, you aren’t safe from the weather. We work six and a half hectares of vines in Chardonne, Saint-Saphorin, Yvorne and Ollon.
HDL: What’s your favourite wine?
DM: It all depends on when and what I’m drinking it with, but Chasselas is the leading variety in the region, our trademark wine. It’s a good wine for the tourists who visit Hôtel du Léman to taste, as it drinks just as well as an aperitif as it does with fish or cheese.
You can visit Delphine Morel during the “Caves ouvertes des vignerons de Chardonne” open cellar event on Saturday 17 November! All of the wine-growers will be opening up their cellars on that day. Light refreshments, musical entertainment from the local brass band and tasting (CHF 20 for your glass, which you can then use to taste the wines at each cellar). www.chardonne-vins-ch
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