You could say, for Jean-Christophe (JC) Poizat, co-founder of Maison Vauron wine merchants, wine is in his blood.
His great-great-grandfather, Antoine Vauron, founded a business as a négociant in France in 1879 in the town of St Etienne in the northern Rhône region. (A négociant is the French term for a wine merchant who assembles the produce of smaller growers and winemakers and sells the result under its own name).
He would buy wine ‘en-vrac’ by the barrel, then age and mature it, then bottle and sell the wine under his own label. He passed the business down within the family for two generations, but JC’s grandmother sold the business.
Nearly 120 years later, JC found himself working in the wine industry on the other side of the world, in Auckland where he’d come for a six-month trip to check out the local wine scene, and ended up meeting his Kiwi wife who convinced him to stay.
He and his business partners spotted a gap in the market and decided they wanted to introduce the best old-world French wines to Kiwis at a time when NZ’s wine palate and local industry were really starting to blossom. When looking for a name for his new business, he didn’t have to look far – Maison Vauron (House of Vauron) is a nod to his family history.
That wasn’t the only thing he was able to re-establish. Such is the nature of old-world wine and winemakers, he was even able to reconnect the relationships with some of the wineries his family had worked with many years ago.
JC, Will and the team at Maison Vauron pride themselves on authenticity. They work directly with about 300 small producers in France, no middle men involved; these are predominantly family-owned wineries not aimed at the mass-market, some less than four-five hectares, and some that have been in the family for generations. One in particular, JC tells us, is an 11 th generation family business – established in 1478!
Each year, JC takes two or three trips to France to meet with the growers, find new suppliers and nurture relationships – not a bad gig: to have his French culture injection and then come home to NZ, which he calls “the best country in the world”.