Lise et Bertrand Jousset
Neither Bertrand Jousset nor Lise Girard were born to viticultural parents. Lise perhaps has the closer tie to agriculture, having grown up on the farm her parents worked in Deux-Sèvres, a département which lies to the south of the main sweep of the Loire vineyards, its major viticultural claim to fame being the Haut-Poitou appellation. Nevertheless it was through her work in the restaurant trade, working front-of-house in France and England, that she first really began to understand wine. She was a fully-trained sommelier before she subsequently met Bertrand, a butcher's son from Amilly, near Chartres.
Having left school at an early age and not apparently having any great interest in butchery as a career Bertrand had enlisted in the French army, and spent six years in his country's service including several tours of duty in foreign war zones. At the end of it all he returned to France a more mature and settled man it seems, and looking for a new career he enrolled on a viticultural course at Amboise. It was there that he was introduced to Chenin Blanc for the very first time, in 2002. It was a meeting that was to shape his viticultural career; one day, Bertrand resolved, he would have his own vineyard full of Chenin Blanc vines.
A Move to Montlouis
Lise (pictured above) and Bertrand were like-minded in this respect, and so together they hatched a plan, one that would eventually lead them to the vineyards of Montlouis. It was in 2004 that this plan became reality. This was perhaps somewhat earlier than they anticipated; at the time Bertrand was still gaining experience at several other domaines in the region, and Lise was working as a sommelier in Paris. They weren't tied to the Loire, and in fact Lise was eyeing up a job in Montpellier, which would have meant a move south for Bertrand. Fate intervened, however, as a mutual friend alerted them to the existence of a small domaine in Montlouis, on the edge of the Husseau plateau, that was available for rent.
Having visited the domaine, on the rue des Bouvineries which runs from La Barre to Husseau, they quickly signed the rental agreement. They were drawn to the vineyards, 8.6 hectares of Chenin Blanc in a prime location, enough to satisfy Bertrand's desire I think, and of course with such little interest in the vineyards of Montlouis the land was much more affordable here than it was anywhere else.
Nevertheless the first few years were very difficult, financially at least. Lise worked night shifts in a local factory to keep a little money rolling in, but it rolled out just as fast thanks to their rental payments. Converting the vineyards from conventional farming to organic took time and effort, and they were 'rewarded' with lower-than-ever yields, which hit their income badly. It has only been in the past few years, with the return of higher yields, that the couple are more financially secure and Lise has been able to give up her night shifts. Their new security is evinced by a recent move to buy the property outright, and in more recent years to also buy some of the vineyards, rather than to go on renting. (27/9/11, updated 7/11/12)