Award winning Mirabeau wine was founded in 2009 when Stephen and Jeany Cronk decided to leave their beloved house in South-West London and move to Cotignac, a small village in the heart of Provence. With barely a word of French between them and their three young children, the family spent a year learning to live the Provençal way before setting up a small wine business with a principle objective of making Provence rosé that would not only be regarded the best in the region but a brand that people would grow to love.
By putting together a highly experienced winemaking team, working with local vineyards, hard work and patience Jeany and Stephen’s dream has earned acclaim with some of the world’s toughest wine critics. To find out more about one of our favourite wine companies and their incredible journey we caught up with Jeany to shed light on what life as Provençal winemakers is like…
Can you tell us a little bit about why you decided to move your family from South-West London to the heart of Provence?
We moved to pursue two long held goals, to live in the South of France and to return to Stephen’s wine business roots. In spite of having a good job, a nice house and a great bunch of friends we always had something missing from our lives. We work harder than we’ve ever done, certainly no “getting out of the rat race” here, but we do what we love.
Where and when did your passion for wine begin?
Stephen is the wine guy and his passion for the subject began when he cycled through the beautiful Barossa Valley when he was 18 (alone on a tandem no less) and has never really abated. I have found working in wine as a subsequent career very interesting and nourishing, and it is an advantage as my lack of lengthy experience means I can still see everything more easily through the consumer’s eyes.
To create your award winning rosé you also work with some of the best vineyards in Provence, can you tell us more about the process of wine-making?
We work as a ‘negociant’ (a French term for a wine merchant) and purposefully so. That means we work with excellent partner growers and we control the assemblage (putting together) aspect of winemaking, as well as all the logistics and marketing. It means better, more constant wines and they remain more affordable and available. Land in Provence is very expensive to buy and makes owning a lot of land difficult, the output very pricey and too beholden to annual fluctuations.
How do you find running your own business alongside family life?
Tricky… the upside is we can work more or less when we want, the downside is we do it all the time. We have a very keen customer focus and cannot really bear to disappoint anyone, so things get done even if it’s a week-end, a holiday or a day out by the beach. We hope our kids will be understanding of our life choice and have been taught the importance, and also the result of hard work, but inevitably our quality time with them has suffered. We are making a break with the last 9 years of working through the summer and are taking a 3 week holiday this August where we are trying to leave our jobs behind for a bit.
What would you say is a typical day in the life of what you and your team do?
Our days are long and usually start well before breakfast on the computer catching up with stuff from other continents. I will likely head to the office to catch up with my team- marketing, social media and the Mirabeau showroom, while Stephen is usually on a plane somewhere or talking to his sales team. Wine is heavy on logistics and often time sensitive, especially with larger retailers in the Rosé season, so we often firefight and deal with emergencies. We try and eat together as a team here in Cotignac once a week and we have a constant What’s App chat going on, with plenty of fun as well as serious stuff. That keeps everyone looped in and is an outlet for news and jokes about the bosses… We work like a big family and everyone in the team feels that way.
You have a new sparkling rosé called ‘La Folie’, can you tell us a little more about this and what makes it so special?
It’s just really nice, food friendly sparkling wine, made the Prosecco method using good quality base wines. Sparkling wines are too often the way to use low quality juice as the added sugar and sparkles mask a lot of lack of quality. Ours uses some of our signature base wines to really bring out the Provence character and the sugar levels are not very high given that we use highly aromatic wines to begin with.
Mirabeau is now being sold in more than 50 markets, what is your long term vision for the company?
Our vision is still the same that we set ourselves when we started. To make people happy when they put a bottle of wine on their table and to ensure that our retail and restaurant partners have a reliable, approachable and creative partner to work with. Rosé is a great trend and we are happy to surf the wave, but we fully intend to build a business that is there for the long term and known for its great quality wines and its unique way to do business.
Image credits, Mirabeau Wine.