Swore. Editorial guest: Benoit Sermier | Weekly 39

Benoit Sermier, can you talk about your career path and what led you to the presidency of Fruitière Vinicole?
After a BTS in hotel management in Poligny, I took over my parents’ wine farm of twelve and a half hectares. Today we are at 26 hectares. I have been really established since 2012 and I followed in the footsteps of my father who started out as an independent winemaker before joining the fruit farm in 2006. When I arrived at the fruit farm, I began to get involved in the business, in the commercial commission and little by little I took on more responsibilities with a position on the board of directors, then later in the office as vice-president.

You are also co-president of the Burgundy – Jura cooperative cellars, is that a plus for Fruitière d’Arbois?
Yes it’s a good plus, I am informed very regularly of what is happening at the national level. I have a headquarters in Paris on cooperative wines from France and so I am aware of what is happening regulatoryly speaking, or at the social level, and a little bit of what is happening left and right in France. In fact, I have information in advance…

What is your vision for La Fruitière for the coming years?
We have a very young team, there will be 12 of us on the board, including 10 people under 40 years old.
It’s a big change at that level. The goal is also not to revolutionize a system that already works quite well. What we want to highlight is to further improve the quality of the wines by creating additional qualitative ranges.
We will also work on different sales flows and develop exports even further. In many countries we are making good progress this year in terms of exports, but there is still a little work to do, it is work over several years, we cannot do that in 1 or 2 years. It takes time to canvass, find markets…

Do you sell more exports than domestically?
Not at all, we’re starting from afar on this, and for the moment our clientele is mainly French, or even regional for us. We sell a lot in our stores, Saint-Laurent, Arc-et-Senans, Poligny and in Arbois.
Our desire is to bring more and more people to La Fruitière with our wine tourism activities: cellar visits followed by tasting; electric bike rides; themed evenings with food and wine pairing tastings; evenings with tasting of old vintages; carriage rides; small activities like blind glass (black glass). We also want to develop our seminar section, in the new 1906 house.

Does cooperation between cooperative members need to be continually strengthened?
For the moment, we are quite united between us, there are no disputes, even if sometimes we do not agree between us at the start of the meeting, we always find an agreement at the end.
We don’t all have the same way of working, but in the end, we all work for the same cause.

Do you have a particular approach to sustainability and respect for the environment?
We are going to push to make a little more organic wines and vines. For the moment, we do not yet have the results of the marketing of the vintages released this winter.
What we know is that more and more winegrowers, young winegrowers want to invest in an environmentally friendly approach. In the future I think there will be projects for recycling wastewater, solar panels… creating electricity with sustainable means…

What are your plans to improve marketing communications?
The plans to improve communication are wine tourism, the important thing is to bring people to us. When it comes to export, it is not us who take care of it, but the reseller.

A personality in the wine world who inspires you?
I don’t really have a mentor. I learned a lot with Joël Morin and Denis Piquet. La fruitière vinicole is a house that requires further learning, there are so many things to know. My predecessors have already given me a lot.
I am quite proud to have taken over the presidency of the fruit grower. We will move forward slowly, it is a 118 year old house, generations of men have passed through there, they have succeeded. So there is no reason why we cannot do it.

How many members? Employees?
We are 90 members paid according to the quantity and quality of the grapes they bring and 27 employees distributed between the cellar, offices and stores.

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