In the Rhône Valley, a winegrower who is not afraid of anything

Between biodynamics, emblematic vintages and respect for the earth, the winegrower Christine Vernay has been able to leave her mark on the family estate Georges Vernay, which she has been running for 20 years, in Condrieu, south of Lyon. Her work has just been praised by the Revue du Vin's Guide Vert 2020, which awarded her 3 stars, its highest distinction. Portrait.

She is the first winegrower in the Rhône Valley to receive this distinction, and the only woman to be awarded this year. At the head of the family vineyard in Condrieu, which she took over 20 years ago, Christine Vernay has been able to impose her mark, while remaining in the continuity of the values passed on by her father Georges, and before him, her grandfather Francis.

A pioneer in biodynamic agriculture

Taking care of the land, the vines and those who work them is the credo of this passionate woman. Values passed down from generation to generation, which led her to embark on biodynamic farming well before its time, becoming one of the leading figures of the responsible movement.

The 24 hectares of vines on the estate, planted with Viognier and Syrah grapes, have been cultivated organically for many years. This is a rare approach in the Rhône Valley, where the steeply sloping vineyards do not make it easy for the winegrowers.

Condrieu, Côte Rôtie, Saint-Joseph...

To Coteau de Vernon and Chaillées de l'Enfer, the Condrieu wines created by Francis and Georges respectively, Christine Vernay has added Maison Rouge and Blonde du Seigneur, two renowned Côte Rôtie wines that perpetuate the reputation of the estate. Domaine Vernay also produces Vins de Pays and Saint-Joseph.

Now assisted by her brother, Luc Vernay, Christine continues to work in the field. It is not uncommon to see her regularly surveying her hillsides, checking the health of the vines or gauging the need to harvest. Then comes the work in the cellar. Vinification, maturing, bottling, the wine grower takes care of each stage. *I spend time in my cellar, I take care of my wines. Our jobs would soon take us away from each other. But for it to tell a story one day, the wine requires no other presence: the attention we give it, the listening we offer it, the time of us.

A know-how and a work of every moment that the Guide Vert 2020 of the Revue du Vin recognizes today by awarding three stars to Christine Vernay. A high distinction awarded to only seven estates for this 25th edition of the guide.