Beaujolais: a new start for Sarah Perrusset

Coffee in hand, Sarah Perrusset and her father Daniel take stock at the winery, at a place called La Roche, in Quincié-en-Beaujolais. Since the harvest starts on Friday 26 August on the estate, it is time for the final preparations. Cleaning the winery, furnishing the gite for seasonal workers, preparing the vineyard paths. The time is counted. “As long as the grapes are not in barrels, something can always happen. But I am calm because the grapes are beautiful and my team of pickers is complete, thanks to social networks“, she says.

Sarah Perrusset can be optimistic about her second crop on the estate. But above all, it will be her first as a winegrower. Because since 1er last July she succeeded her father Daniel, one of the figures of the vineyard, best known for using an American press. “In 2020, my father, along with my sister, announced to us that he wanted to retire at the end of his last harvest in 2021. This announcement gave me a stab in the heart. My friends often told me that being a winegrower’s daughter brought happiness. I have not measured their impressions. Until the day I clicked, when I took part in a visit to the Chapoutier estate as part of my job. And one thing led to another, I said to myself: “why not me”develops them.

“I didn’t want it to end…”

In January 2021, Sarah Perrusset announced to her father that she intended to return to the estate he had created 40 years earlier. She then began the administrative procedures to settle in. “My life has changed in six months. My father, of a pessimistic nature, reacted badly to this announcement. For him my professional life was perfect“For ten years, the 34-year-old young woman worked in communication and events, for the Musée des Confluences in Lyon, first for the company Vinci, which led the project – “I managed communication and site visits“ – before opening, the museum hired him in the Corporate Relations department to promote professional events at the museum.”We had to create a whole commercial offer, develop partnerships, sponsorships, etc. These phases of my life have allowed me to grow and push me to realize the potential in companies. But the relationship between Beaujolais and Lyon is different, and I also had to rediscover this authenticity, this simplicity, in short, to return to my roots. And in time, my father stepped back and opened the door for me to work together and teach me the trade.

“Think Beaujolais, drink Perrusset”, the slogan that can be read on the back label of this “Father-daughter” from Côte-de-Brouilly 2021, the only cuvée produced by Sarah Perrusset with her father (© David Duvernay)

This transfer was symbolized by the vinification of a special “Father-daughter” cuvée, in Côte-de-Brouilly (2021 vintage, 2,000 bottles). At the same time, from September 2021, Sarah Perrusset returned to school, at the University of Wine at the Château de Suze-la-Rousse (Drôme), to obtain two certificates, one in viticulture, the other in oenology, a combination of theory and practical work. “I also followed the path to the young farmer’s installation near the agricultural chamber and I did an internship in different districts of Beaujolais, but also in Cerdon and Condrieu. It allowed me to connect with vintners and winegrowers of my generation.”

To pay tribute to her father who cultivated 5.3 hectares of vines at the Domaine des Tourrières in Beaujolais, Brouilly, Côte-de-Brouilly and IGP Coteau de l’Ain (planted white in Lurcy), area that she completely took over, the young winemaker finally decided to create another estate, this time with their family name. While she will be making some changes, most notably the creation of new labels, Sarah plans to perpetuate the history of the previous estate, the American press of course, direct sales and rolling vines. “They aredifficult to tame and work. For once I am like my father, a little pessimistic. But these hillside vines are close to my heart and it is potentially a force to be emphasized, as is the ratchet press. Every year it took me the audacity to attend pressées. These are unique and magical moments. And I didn’t want it to end…”

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