Wisdom From The Women Leading the Wine & Spirits Industries, with Véronique Florentin Of Listel — BGPL US

An interview with Kelly Reeves


I must admit that nothing is really non-intuitive in our profession. The most important factor above all is that you have to love and be inspired by winemaking. In turn, your work will reflect that and ultimately be shared with consumers for them to also feel that passion and inspiration.

Less than 20% of winemakers and distillers are women. Traditionally, women were excluded from these industries. This number is slowly rising as more women choose to study this profession and enter the wine and spirits fields. What is it like for those women who work in this male-dominated industry? What are some of the challenges that these women face? Is there hope for better representation, and better wages, for women in the wine and spirits industry? As a part of our series about women leading the wine and spirits industries, we had the pleasure of interviewing Véronique Florentin.

Véronique Florentin joined Listel as quality control manager and quickly took over the supervision of the cellar and bottling lines. Previous to her position at Listel, Véronique studied at Supagro in Montpellier where she obtained a diploma in Agricultural Engineering and Oenology. She began her professional career in the Aude department (South East of France bordering the Mediterranean Sea) in a winery where she managed monitoring the grape supply and the technical oenological part, then worked as a wine merchant in the Beaujolais region. In 2015, Véronique took over the responsibility of Listel’s two vinification and bottling centers in Pierrefeu and Vidauban in the Côtes de Provence area.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your origin story, and your childhood?

Coming from a family with strong ties to the military, we moved around quite a bit during my childhood and because of that I was able to challenge myself and break habits when circumstances changed. It was through moving so frequently that I was able to discover the many French regions — especially those in rural areas which later sparked my interest in the field of wine.

Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the wine and spirits industry?

Life science has always been a subject that I was interested in and as I continued my education, I decided to pursue more of a focus in biology. While attending the National School of Agronomy in Montpellier, which is located in the heart of the Languedoc wine region, I was able to participate in numerous field workshops and in turn, became inspired by the cultivation of vines and the vinification of grapes.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It is difficult to cite just one story since joining the incredible Listel team. The brand’s story and history is especially unique with over a century of unique vineyards populated by an exceptional biodiversity. I have learned so much since joining the Listel team, however, the most important lesson in my opinion is that it is the tremendous emulation that a team can have in a common project when it is carried out with kindness. A strong brand is one that operates collaboratively and with an open mind to new ideas and innovations. It’s through these practices that we have been able to produce the most popular rosé brand in France.

It has been said that sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I have certainly made mistakes — and many of them! But yes, I would agree that they are our greatest teachers. One time in particular during one of my first vinifications, I forgot the follow-up of a vat whose number had been erased from our records. Although the resulting wine turned out to be one of premium quality, this could have turned into a disaster because of my error. Ever since then, I have been extremely diligent in each of my assignments to leave nothing out. We all understand the important and crucial vinification stage; the incredible process requires great care, patience and detail.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I started my career in a cooperative cellar in Aude and the Director, Mr. Jacques Brunel immediately took me under his wing. With a more lucrative background, he was able to share further insight on subjects not discussed in the classroom. I learned of the Great Human Adventure — which suggests that in order to obtain successful wines, there must be effective team management between wine growers. I give great gratitude to Mr. Brunel and his teachings and mentorship through my time of learning.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

I believe that success is never achieved alone. I think generally in working so closely with a team — employees are able to share experiences and learn from each other.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Listel is always working on new and exciting items! We say it is a part of Listel’s DNA to constantly work together and share innovative ideas which then develop into working projects with the wants and needs of our consumers in mind. The brand has a strength thanks to its technical equipment and very modern cellars.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Despite great progress that has been made we still have a lot more work to do to achieve gender parity in this industry. In Napa Valley, the percentage of lead women winemakers or winery owners is about 12%. Overall, men account for about 80% of winemakers and winery owners. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society as a whole to support greater gender parity moving forward?

In France, these differences do not appear as frequently. As a matter of fact, more than half of the Oenologists that are promoted each year are in fact women. We are proud of this statistics.

You are a “Wine and Spirits Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non-intuitive things one should know to succeed in the wine and spirits industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

I must admit that nothing is really non-intuitive in our profession. The most important factor above all is that you have to love and be inspired by winemaking. In turn, your work will reflect that and ultimately be shared with consumers for them to also feel that passion and inspiration.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the industry?

We are constantly challenged in our field which to me attributes to an exciting environment. Each vintage is different and this forces us to reevaluate the best practices to satisfy our customers. We constantly work to develop innovative techniques whether related to products, advancements in technology or marketing.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

A major area of concern for the wine business as a whole would be the ways in which companies are aiming to reduce the environmental footprint. This is something that will be left for future generations to come and our decisions now carry great weight for the years to come. Our company is also concerned how we will continue to adapt to the future consumers as things are ever changing within the industry.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

My core values promote “living together” and sharing experiences with one another. Behind every project, our company aims to instill conviviality, good memories, and the true meaning of “feel good wines.”

Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you only continued success!


Discover more about Listel HERE.

Read the full article HERE.