How I Went From Doctoring to Wine Making
by Ron Blumenfeld
Ron Blumenfeld is our new wine columnist. Ron is a doctor, but these days, you’re likely to find him tending the vines at Domaine des Boires, where he’s one of the vineyard’s owners. Look for Ron’s column on the first Friday of every month. He’ll write about some aspect of wine—making it, tasting it, savoring the wine life.
How does a guy from the southwest corner of the Bronx end up tending grape vines in the southwest corner of France?
I thought about this as I stood on a remote hillside vineyard in the Madiran wine region, miles from any paved road—let alone the Grand Concourse. It was also a pretty unusual career move to make after spending 35 years as a Connecticut doctor.
But the answer was simple: Vincent Chabert, the man across the field, tirelessly tending our vines.
I first met Vincent, a Frenchman, at a Quebec ski mountain in the late 1980’s. Vincent was a ski instructor, but he was also maître d’ at a local inn. Over a decade, we became good friends.
Part of Vincent’s job at the inn was managing a 15,000-bottle wine cellar. Soon, he got the winemaking bug and went back to France to work at Chateau Bouscassé, a famous Madiran vineyard. In 2006, Vincent called me to say he was going to buy Domaine des Bories, also in the Madiran region. He asked me if I wanted to be an investor.
I loved wine—but did I love it that much?
Though not well-known to US wine drinkers, the wines from Madiran, an area dotted with roughly 40 vineyards, date back to Roman times. Domaine des Bories offers two blends (cuvées): “Tradition,” with 50-60% tannat, and “Vieilles Vignes (old vines),” with 80% tannat. Both blends are rounded off with cabernet sauvignon and/or cabernet franc.
These days, I travel to Madiran to perform exhausting agricultural labor. There’s not much time to enjoy its quaint villages and beautiful countryside. At this point, I’ve had my bleeding and callused hands in every stage of wine production, from vine to bottle, to promotion.
Do I love wine that much? Enough to sink my blood, sweat and money into a vineyard?
I do in fact love it that much!
Here’s where you can buy Domaine des Bories. Many of these shops will ship.
West Side Wine 481 Columbus Ave. NY www.westsidewine.com
Rye Brook Wines 259 South Ridge Street Rye Brook www.ryebrookwines.com
Grapes of Norwalk 10 Cross Street Norwalk www.grapeswine.com
Stewart’s Wines and Spirits 227 Elm Street New Canaan www.stewartswines.com
Harry’s Wines 2094 Post Road Fairfield www.harryswine.com
The Wine Thief 181 Crown Street New Haven www.thewinethief.com
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