December 2010: Andre Lurton

There is a solid reason for our choice of December’s “In the Spotlight”.   Simply put, he is a hard worker with big heart, and according to us, those traits should always be rewarded!

A farmer at heart, he saw opportunity when no one else did, he took risk when no one else did, and he worked hard when no one else did.  As a result, his name today is synonymous with irreproachable quality that is recognized around the world.  A lively spirit with a great sense of humour, Monsier Andre Lurton is our December “In the Spotlight”.

“He is, and will stay, one of those men who have profoundly left their mark in the world of wine.  His action permitted thousands of wine makers to live their profession; he knew how to protect exceptional “terroirs” zones against urban development in order to have them exist for the pleasure of the production of “Grands Vins”. He has in his own company always lead a politic of modernization, which permitted his colleagues and his products to always benefit from the most adapted technologies.” – Christine, Jacques, and Francois

Andre Lurton

For more information on Andre Lurton, click here.

André Lurton has dedicated his life to growing exceptional Bordeaux wines and championing the viticulture legacy of Bordeaux.    For over 55 years, André Lurton has searched out the best soils and micro-climates and today, his privately owned company, Les Vignobles André Lurton, manages over 600 hectares of vineyards, employs over 150 people and produces wine from 7 châteaux located in the Entre-Deux-Mers, Pessac-Léognan, Lussac-Saint Emilion, and Margaux appellations.

André Lurton was born 1924 at Château Bonnet in Grézillac, France.  Born into a wine growing family, André Lurton grew up in the admiration of his grandfather, Léonce Récapet who, starting from a small family distillery, purchased various properties during the last quarter of the 19th century including Château Bonnet in 1897, Château Brane-Cantenac in 1925 and over 40 percent of the Société du Château Margaux in the beginning of the 1930’s.  Léonce Récapet was a great man, a visionary, and an inspirational business man for his time who planted the roots for the Lurton family history in wine as we know it today.

In 1953, after enlisting voluntarily in the army during World War II, André Lurton inherited Château Bonnet, with 30 hectares of vineyards that were in a state of disrepair, and he has ever since followed in his grandfather’s footsteps to maintain the family tradition of excellence.

Already in a difficult post-war period, the devastation of the vineyard by the frost of 1956 required André Lurton to revert to farming to save his property.  Never losing sight of his true passion for wine, he gradually replanted the vineyards at Château Bonnet and increased its size through the acquisition of neighboring parcels.  Today, Château Bonnet consists of over 250 hectares and produces on average 2 million bottles of white, red and rose wines.

Falling under the charm of Château La Louvière, in 1965 André Lurton took his first step into the Graves appellation.  A diamond in the rough, Château La Louvière was a historical viticulture property with an extraordinary terroir that had been abandoned for forty years.  With the first priority being the vineyards and the winery, André Lurton restored the entire estate finishing the restoration of the château in 2000.  Recognizing that the evolution of wine making never stops, the most recent investment in La Louvière began in 2007 with the complete renovation of the wine-making facilities and the breaking of ground for a new underground barrel room which was completed in 2009.

Impressed by the terroir in the northern part of the Graves appellation, André Lurton acquired other properties in the region including Château Couhins-Lurton, Cru Classé de Graves (1967 was his first vintage, and the vineyard was purchased in 1970), Château de Cruzeau (1973), and Château de Rochemorin (1974). Each property being in a state of disrepair, bringing life back to these properties required significant investment and time, and the steadfast perseverance of André Lurton.  With the opening of Château de Rochemorin’s new winery in 2004, each estate has its own wine-making facility that blends the tradition and terroir of these noble estates with modern-day innovations and techniques.

In the last 18 years, André Lurton expanded his wine growing activities into two other appellations.  In 1992, André Lurton was asked by the insurance company, the MAIF, to manage the vineyards and wine production at Château Dauzac, a classified growth in 1855, located in the Margaux appellation.  In 2000, André Lurton purchased 50% of Château de Barbe Blanche located in the Lussac Saint-Emilion appellation.

All of this activity with his own company did not prohibit André Lurton from being key player in both regional and national organizations.  In 1963, he founded the Grézillac Oenological Study & Information Center (1 000 members vinifying 800 000 Hectoliters of Bordeaux wine which represents 12% of the regional production).  The Center advocates modern vinification techniques with the goal to improve the quality of the member’s production.  André Lurton served as President of the Center for 35 years.

Federating the producers of the Northern Graves region, André Lurton instigated and led the campaign for the creation of the new Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, Pessac-Léognan.  After 20 years of struggle and negotiations, Pessac-Léognan was recognized in 1987 and André Lurton served as the President of its Syndicat Viticole until 2006.  In addition, André Lurton served as President (1951 – 1955) of the National Young Farmers Circle (CNJA), an independent national association.  His leadership, life-long dedication to protect the viticulture lands against urbanization, and participation in numerous appellations including Entre-Deux-Mers (President), Bordeaux (Vice-President) and the CIVB, the professional organization for the promotion of Bordeaux wines (Founding Member) has had a profound effect on the Bordeaux region.

André Lurton has not only been involved with viticulture organizations, but he also began serving his community in 1947, at the young age of 23 years old, when he was elected to the City Council of Grézillac.  After 60 years of service – with 40 years as Mayor of Grézillac – André Lurton retired from his elected positions in 2008.

Throughout his life, André Lurton has been awarded several prestigious honors including the Knight of the Order in the Legion of Honor, Officer in the Order of the National Merit, Knight of the Agricultural Order of Merit, and the Military Cross 1939 – 1945.

Today, André Lurton lives at Château Bonnet – residing in the same room where he was born.  With his wife Elisabeth, who passed away in 2006, they have 7 children, 12 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren.