Colin Ferenbach - Manager

Purchased as a pastime for two American friends, this typically French wine became a genuine quality product boosted by the business acumen of its owners, and is now well on its way to becoming one of the finest ambassadors Fronsac has to offer. A paradox!

The owners of Chateau La Vieille Cure fully intend to do business. Although in 1986, Colin Ferenbach and his friend Peter Sachs, two Americans with a long-standing love for France and its wines, intended only to make a good investment, with a charming pied-à-terre and a vineyard in their favourite winemaking region, they are now determined to make some real money, with their third partner Bernard Soulan. Their weapon: Chateau La Vieille Cure. Their Trojan horse: Expression de Fronsac.

When you ask Colin Ferenbach why they chose to buy in the Fronsac appellation, the reply is crystal clear: "At the time, the more prestigious appellations were unaffordable, most of the wineries for sale were coveted and purchased by insurance companies. We had a strong dollar, but even that wasn't enough".

Despite their disappointment, the two friends were in luck. After having visited over fifteen vineyards, they had acquired some precious knowledge and were able to recognise one of the genuine gems of Fronsac.

Atop a gentle sixty-metre slope, the perfectly restored property is surrounded by two plots of perfectly healthy and superbly sun-kissed vineyards. To the delight of a beaming Colin Ferenbach: "The soil at Château La Vieille Cure has the same geological formation as the Saint Emilion plateau. And even back then, the wine was a real pleasure!". Chateau La Vieille Cure was undoubtedly much appreciated, including among our own editorial staff, but there were a few flies in the ointment: the cottage-industry cellar, the lack of investment in tooling, and, above all, the marketing and repute of the wine on the French market.


The three partners tackled the hurdles with determination, by investing a great deal of money – 11 million Francs (1.6 Million Euros), almost as much as the purchase price of the estate -, in any event more than was initially planned. "My usual residence is more than 5,000 km from my winery", says C.C. Ferenbach, "but thanks to the quality of the team that we chose to advise us, most of whom have become real friends, we do good work here."

It is true that they have the best in the trade working with them. Michel Rolland, the estate oenologist, gives his knowledgeable advice as a neighbour. Since January 1993, Jean-Noël Hervé, the owner of Chateau Moulin Haut Laroque, is an official member of the management team. But, to quote Colin Ferenbach: "our success is also due to the countless and precious tips given by winemaking friends, most of whom are members of the dynamic Expression de Fronsac association."

(...) Chateau La Vieille Cure has made a noted breakthrough in Bordeaux. Today, thanks to the efficient work of several importers, it is sold in over fifteen countries. 90% of sales are on the export market, often in supermarkets given that foreign customers are more attached to the notion of value for money. "It is the top-selling Fronsac wine in Anglo-Saxon countries", specifies Colin Ferenbach. England certainly ranks first after the United States where the wine is very well distributed. In New York, the wine is served in eleven of the best fifteen French restaurants.

CHANTAL NAIMI
Extrait de l'article "Un Fronsac à Manhattan" (RVF - Février 1994)


Chateau La Vieille Cure's winery

 

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