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Page 2 of the interview with

Jean-Philippe Delmas
Château Haut Brion

Your wine training took you to California, Provence and Champagne. What kind of things did you learn in each one of these three regions?

I had many experiences, of all kinds.
in Champagne, at Moet and Chandon, it was in a gigantic environment. All is gigantic there, the size, the human management, the technical management. So the working methods and their methodology are more structured than elsewhere.
In Provence, with the Sumeire winery which manages several estates such as Château de Barbérolle, I discovered an approach much more practical of making and selling wine, close to craftwork. The business is not the same as in Champagne, simply because the selling price of a bottle is not the same. So we need to work in all areas of wine: wine grower, wine maker, wine seller.
In California, it is another thing. Although I was in a winery which seems to be one of the most Bordeaux alike as I worked at Far Niente in Napa Valley. The way they deal with the wine and the customers is different from France. It is surely more professional at the selling and marketing levels than in Bordeaux. The selling and marketing responsibilities are directly attached to the operations of the winery.
Each winery has specific wine growing and making techniques which are particular to them. So there is always something to learn in each and every experience.

Few people know it, Château Haut-Brion belongs to an American family, the Dillon. The legend says that Clarence Dillon wanted to visit Cheval Blanc but because of the fog he could not reach it. He stopped at Haut-Brion and fell in love with it. He then decided to buy it.

Let us say that we do not have a formal proof of this legend but there is undoubtedly a part of truth in it. Clarence Dillon was joined by Mr Lawton (the father of the Bordeaux broker, Hugues Lawton). At that time, Bordeaux was in recession and many Châteaux were up for sale. He visited several estates: Margaux, Cheval Blanc and Haut-Brion among others. Eventually, he bought Haut-Brion.

Today, how would you describe the link between the Dillon's family and Haut-Brion?

Haut-Brion is more than ever related to the Dillon family. There has always been a member of the Dillon's family at the head of Haut-Brion. There was Seymour Weller (nephew of Clarence), Joan Dillon, Duchess of Mouchy (daughter of Douglas Dillon, former US Ambassador in France). Today the general manager is the son of the Duchess, Prince Robert of Luxembourg. At the board of directors, we only have members of the Dillon's family. Because Clarence had two children: Dorothy and Douglas, the shares were all divided between the two families. They come twice per year to visit Haut-Brion. In top of that, they take an active part in the operations in the United States, they attend wine tastings, charity sales. They are maybe more sensitive today to Haut-Brion than their ancestors. Maybe because of the wine fashion in the United States. All the Dillons are very much in love with Haut-Brion. I would like to add that I am proud to work for an American family.

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Jean Philippe Delmas, Château Haut-Brion

Go back to the beginning of the interview with Jean-Philippe Delmas, Chateau Haut-Brion




Clarence Dillon
Château Haut-Brion













Clarence Dillon, Georges Delmas and Seymour Weller

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