Valérie Marendaz

Cave de la Combe Marendaz,  Côtes-de-l'Orbe, Switzerland

6
Hectares
4
Grapes
8
Wines
Valérie Marendaz likes to experiment with wine.

You have taken over the management of your father's estate: is producing wine a family affair?

Yes, it's a family story, and I was lucky enough to inherit the winery after my oenology studies. But it's not because you're a winegrower's daughter that you necessarily become a winegrower. I was lucky enough to have the choice: I was never asked or forced to take over my father's estate.

Valérie Marendaz

After her high school diploma specialising in social pedagogy in Yverdon, Valérie begins an internship in 2010 with the winemaker Henri Cruchon, in Enichens. She discovers a real passion for the profession, and later decides to start training in oenology at the Haute Ecole in Changins. She obtains her bachelor’s degree from there in 2015. That same year, she begins working alongside her father on the family estate, and then takes over the management of the estate in 2017. At the age of 29, and with only four years of experience behind her, Valérie now manages the vineyard.

Can you recall a memorable experience regarding wine?

I remember my first tasting class at Changins particularly well: I was really scared, because being a winemaker's daughter, I was expected to recognize cork taste! I was the first to be served, and I felt huge pressure (laughs)... but I passed the test!

You say you have changed your winemaking method: how is it different from your fathers?

I did cold macerations on the reds and macerations directly in the press for the whites, to get a certain aroma, which is different depending on the grape varieties; I also replaced the stainless steel vats with enamelled steel vats to vinify the whites and rosés, because I found that I managed to bring out a fruity side that is really interesting. I also tried vinification in new barrels. So I did a lot of little things and trials to experiment with new aromas.

You say you will no longer use herbicides: is there an ecological dimension to your vision of viticulture?

Yes, but I don't think I'm the only one concerned by this. It is clear that the ecological issue is at the center of our attention. We pay more attention to it. And all winegrowers try to work as close to nature as possible. Our vineyard is our livelihood: we have to take care of it as best as we can. Personally, depending on the year and the harvest, I can use sheep: they are real little lawn mowers and moreover, they produce natural fertilizer!

You are a fan of selfies, where you pose in front of your vineyard or on your estate: is this a strategy to attract younger clients?

You have to stay up to date! I already had an Instagram page, and following the advice of a friend, I started to promote my vineyard and my cellar. It's a nice way to show the diversity of my work. Because people don't realize what our job includes: they think, for example, that we don't work in winter, but we do! So the selfies illustrate my days in the vineyard and no doubt rouses the curiosity of the younger ones who are already interested.

Do you feel that the job is more difficult because you are a woman?

There are more and more women training to become winemakers. The vine is not a "macho" environment. I get along very well with my colleagues from the Côtes de l'Orbe, who are all men. I don't really feel different from them professionally.  At the end of the day, I’m still a woman, and I ask for help if I can't carry something (laughs).

I try to go with the flow and go with my gut feeling on important decisions.

What are the difficulties within the profession?

We work with nature, with what the year brings us. There is frost, hail, and we have to manage all that. Every year is a challenge. Another challenge is to succeed in making your wine. And wine is alive! Sometimes it goes "freestyle" and you have to find solutions. It's not a recipe that we repeat year after year. The ingredients are constantly changing. There's also the stress of production: I'm always wondering if I'll be able to sell my products. Ans, as in all professions, everyone makes small mistakes...

How was your experience during the coronavirus lockdown ?

The same as everyone else’s, pretty much. The regional counter was cancelled this year, so I couldn't sell as much as in previous years. On the other hand, there was a kind of surge towards local businesses and products. So I experienced a renewed interest in my vineyard: everyone was very supportive, and that made me happy.

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to continue to be passionate about what I do. Try to continue to manage my winery well and continue to progress. I don't really have a big project, I just want to keep doing everything I can to make it work. I try to go with the flow and go with my gut feeling on important decisions.

What are your hobbies outside the vineyard?

I drink wine all the time (laughs)! But otherwise, I play volleyball and our team is moving up to the fifth league. I also go horseback riding, with my mother-in-law's horse. I do water sports, especially wakeboarding, on the lake. My job takes time, but there are time periods when I have more freedom for my hobbies. I also take Brazilian Portuguese classes; it doesn't help me much in my job, but it makes a nice change (laughs)!

Cave de la Combe Marendaz
Cave de la Combe Marendaz

Côtes-de-l'Orbe, Switzerland

Valérie Marendaz

Hectares
6
Hectares
Grapes
4
Grapes
Wines
8
Wines

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