Matthieu Perrin is a graduate of the Burgundy School of Business. He has always been passionate about wine. Before coming to the family winery in 2007, he lived in the US and China. He is the 5th generation to grow and to vinify at Château de Beaucastel, as well as at Miraval-Provence, La Vieille Ferme, Famille Perrin, Clos des Tourelles, Domaine les Alexandrins. Together with his brothers and cousins they continue the work started by the previous generations 110 years ago at Château de Beaucastel.
How do you define legacy? What is yours?
Taking care of a vineyard cannot be learned from books. Transmission from one generation to the next is at the heart of family estates like ours. The notion of time is absolutely unique in our profession. It is probably the only business in which we talk about the climatic conditions of 40 years ago when we open, for example, a Beaucastel 1980. At the same time we have to project the future condition (of our vineyard) in 20-30 years, when we plant a new vineyard from which our children and grandchildren will ultimately benefit. The legacy of the Perrin family, the passing from generation to generation, and the know-how from one generation to another, is at the heart of our family philosophy.
Did you always know you wanted to take over the family business, and if not how did you come to that decision?
My brothers and myself were born and raised on the estate and from our youngest age the cellars were our playground. However, it was very important for our parents that we discover and see other things to build our own experience. The rules with our parents were: go to work elsewhere, travel, flourish outside the family circle and if you wish you can join the family business after. It was never a right or a duty to follow in the footsteps of our parents, but when this happened it was with great determination and took place in a very natural way.
Taking over a family business is never easy, especially one as long standing and esteemed as yours. What has been for you the biggest challenge?
In the Perrin family, we strive to reach perfection but that is almost impossible so the challenge is to reach excellence on a daily basis and at all levels. This is the advantage of working as a family, especially when there are so many of us — there are 9 members in the Perrin family. Each member of the family is a guarantor of excellence in the vineyard, the cellar, marketing, sales….
You now hold the reins to not only your own family estate but also to PFV. Can you please talk a little bit about that experience?
PFV is a fabulous association that was created a long time ago by the Drouhin family and which aims to bring together 12 historic families from the world of wine who share the same philosophy of excellence, terroir and transmission. We are honoured to stand alongside the leading wine families of the world.
This year, for the first time, the association’s vocation was to award the Primum Familiae Vini’s sustainability award, which honours an exceptional family outside the wine business that shares the same philosophy. For this first edition, Maison Bernard in Brussels, a world-renowned maker and repairer of violins whose work includes the priceless Stradivarius from 1732, was awarded the prize of 100,000 Euros.
Every generation brings its own contribution and leaves its own mark, what do you see as yours?
Our contribution with my brothers and cousins is to continue the work of Jacques, our grandfather, and our fathers François and Jean-Pierre by registering our wines even more in their terroirs and in our family with sustainable processes at every level.
What concrete advice would you give — what do you wish you had known — to someone looking to step into a family business?
It is important to join the family business neither out of convenience nor obligation, but rather in order to develop your own vision which must be at the service of the family. We must maintain great humility with respect to our work, the work of the previous generations and those who will follow.