Laurent Herlin, 2020 Update

I was both delighted and surprised to bump into Laurent Herlin recently. I first met Laurent back in 2016, when it was clear he was an interesting addition to the Bourgueil wine scene. A newcomer to the cellars of the region, Laurent was an engineer working for a technology and communications firm, overseeing the production of mobile-phone SIM cards when he was bitten by the Bourgueil bug. He signed up at the local wine school, gathered together a small portfolio of vineyards within the appellation, and set about turning out some really attractive wines, even though much of his fruit was sourced from some of the appellation’s more sandy terroirs.

But then times got tough, as frost struck again and again, sometimes in consecutive vintages. Laurent was working 6 hectares of vines, but his yields were slashed by 50% in 2012 and the same again in 2013, followed a few years later by a disastrous 90% loss in 2016, prior to a 30% loss in 2017. At this point Laurent Herlin realised he could not continue in this manner, and he began to rationalise his portfolio.

Laurent Herlin

It was reported at the time that he had simply thrown in the towel (hence my surprise at finding him still pouring his wines), but happily it turns out that this was not correct; instead, Laurent (pictured above) decided to reduce his holding from 6 down to just 2 hectares. Then, with the time this made available and tapping into his prior expertise, he launched a small business providing IT solutions for vignerons, giving him a valuable second income stream alongside the more sporadic income generated by his vines.

And so today, it seems, Laurent Herlin is tech-geek by day, and vigneron by evening and weekend (or perhaps it is the other way around). So he is still actively making wine; just not in the volumes he once did.

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