L’Orpailleur Vineyard, 35 years of pure passion… and good wine!
L’Orpailleur is one of the first vineyards to be established in the region. It is also one of the most renowned, and for good reason. A passion for wine, the quest for excellence and a strong determination are the corner stones of their e
L’Orpailleur began with a perhaps somewhat crazy idea Hervé Durand and Charles-Henri de Coussergues, two sons of wine producers from the south of France, had in mind. Hervé wanted to establish a vineyard and believed the Dunham area was the ideal setting for his project. Charles-Henri arrived soon after, thinking he would stay for a year, the time it would take to get the vineyard started. Thirty-five years later, he’s still here. He planted his heart solidly into the earth where his vines grow.
The two men formed an association with two Quebec entrepreneurs, Frank Furtado and Pierre Rodrigue and together they worked to transform a local farm into the vineyard as we know it today. However, this adventure, covering a span of 35 years, started out quite humbly.
A Profound Passion and a Lot of Determination
In the beginning, Charles-Henri lived in the simple farmhouse and his winemaking installation was set up in the shed alongside his home. Winter in the area constituted another serious problem that had to be dealt with. However, because they were so passionate and determined, also very creative, the two friends were able to manage and overcome most obstacles they encountered. Among other ingenious endeavours, they transformed different tools in order to adapt them to their needs (For example, in the beginning tanks used for farm purposes would become their wine storage facility!)
It took a lot of heart to reach their objective: To create fine, quality wine. They also needed to be very inventive in order to make their business profitable because Quebec wines were not sold at the SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec). This is why in 1985, Charles-Henri had the brilliant idea to open the vineyard and sell his products directly to the public and at the same time “educate” visitors about Quebec wines, explaining their merits. On a larger scale he wanted to promote local products as well. An educational mission, which still today takes precedence at l’Orpailleur.
Did you know?
It is thanks to the famous Quebec folk singer, Gilles Vigneault that the vineyard was called L’Orpailleur? An old folk tale describes the presence of gold prospectors in the area who, of course, never found their bounty! By retelling this story to the owners, the famous poet and singer compared them to these “Orpailleurs,” gold prospectors.
What will the future bring?
Although the vineyard produces 200 000 bottles per year, last year, the demand for their rosé and grey wines greatly surpassed their supplies. The result: They found themwelves out of stock. The owners’ ambition is not to make l’Orpailleur the biggest vineyard around, far from it. The emphasis is placed on offering a high-quality product. They refuse to add to their production if the quality doesn’t meet their standards. The enterprise has always grown one grapevine at a time and this is how they will go on doing things. The thought of selling is also out of the question even though several offers have been placed on the table.
L’Orpailleur vineyard is first and foremost a matter of the heart and a family business. Already, some of the grandchildren have started working there. The next generation is very involved, to our great delight.