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François Villard worked in the restaurant business until 1985, before spending 3 years as a chef in the Vienne hospital. His thoughts then turned to becoming a sommelier, but he thought it would be easier to become a vigneron! Villard is a self-taught winemaker; his father, a smallholder mainly growing cereals in the Isère, did not even drink wine! However, François has a close friendship with Yves Cuilleron, from whom he learned a great deal. “I had been fired by an enthusiasm for wine since I was 20”, recalls François. “We grew a few hybrid vines and I bought some books on winemaking and set off. I do admit that I was a kept man, by my wife, for 10 years”.
François planted his first vines in 1989. He became a full-time vigneron in 1991 and built his own winery in 1997. His total production is approximately 250,000 bottles, covering almost 30 cuvées in a variety of appellations: Vin de France (white, red, rosé and Moëlleux), Saint Péray, St Joseph Rouge and Blanc, Condrieu and Côte Rôtie. François owns about 30 hectares of vines in all, as well as buying in some grapes for a few cuvées as part of his négoce operation. As far as his viticultural approach is concerned, he does not use any pesticides and only uses very light herbicide treatments if it proves to be absolutely necessary. He aims to reduce treatments to zero when and where possible, but not at the price of quality and flavour. All the grapes are hand-harvested. François is not shy of having a little botrytis on his white grapes, be they Marsanne for his St Joseph or Viognier for his Condrieu. For him botrytis brings complexity. His wines can be found on the tables of most of the best restaurants around the world!