Florent-Pierre Merlier of Van Duzer VineyardsThis is part of a series introducing you to interesting people in the wine industry. For many, the journey into wine is not only intriguing but often quite an adventure. These talented individuals are what make the wine industry what it is today so follow this series to meet this group of passionate people who have dedicated their lives to wine.

Why Wine? An interview with Florent-Pierre Merlier of Van Duzer Vineyards

Was there a specific wine, moment or place that unlocked your passion?

Florent-Pierre Merlier: Me and my friends had these Saturday night wine tasting rendezvous, where we met in the cellar (XII century) of my best friend. We gathered, opened couples bottles of old wines or from unexpected producers or wine regions. All of that with a nice piece of cheese and bread. We were leaving the French paradox, building up wine appreciation and setting me up for my new career.

What did you study in school and what were you doing before you started in the wine industry?

FPM: I studied filmmaking and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with a minor in Filmmaking. After working for few years in the Film industry in Paris, I worked harvest in Burgundy by total mistake. It was then that I came to realize that winemaking was and is my true passion.

How has being in the wine industry changed you?

FPM: It has brought me balance and passion, as every single day is different and unexpected for the best or the worst (all winemakers will agree on that.) It is magic to assist and watch the transformation in the vineyard from bud break to harvest and then witness the birth of wines from babies to adults.

What’s your favorite part of being in the wine industry?

FPM: The ability to reach and achieve extra layers of complexity into the finished wines through experimentation in the form of trialing new barrels, a new winemaking technics, using different type of vessel (concrete, wood, odd shapes…) Even after being in the industry for more than 15 years, I am still learning new things most likely because I am willing too. And the beauty of Oregon is that tight relationship and collaboration that winemakers are keeping alive, not always true in other wine regions.

Looking back, was there something in your past that led you to wine?

FPM: I learned recently that both of my grandfathers were in this industry, one was a cellar master and the other a home winemaker. I grew up in an historic village where grapes are omnipresent and historical clues of the Romans bringing grapes in III BC were all around. I was bound to appreciate wine if nothing else.

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