RAPPES - Sarah Besse always wanted to pursue a creative profession. And she is well on her way. In September, she will finish her degree in viticulture and oenology at the Engineering school in Changins. Wine is art, says the young woman standing in the family vault in Rappes, just north of Martigny, Switzerland. In this profession, you have to have ideas. In order to turn them into reality you have to work with what nature has in store for you. Thats what I like doing.
At 24, Patricia and Gérald Besses daughter knows what she wants. She chose to follow the same path as her parents and has been preparing to take over the family business since middle school. Her brother Jonathan might be able to lend a hand. He is interested in management, and that could help me, says Sarah. We are both very attached to our family heritage. My parents started from scratch. They had to work like crazy to get to where they are now. Its important to follow the path that they laid out for us.
Sarah admits that she had her hesitations about following in her parents footsteps, especially when she realized how much work was involved. There are always so many telephone calls and people passing through the estate. You have to be available; its difficult to separate your work from your private life.
In the end, passion got the best of her. She cant explain what exactly made her change her mind. Working in the vineyards, encountering other winegrowers, tasting good wines
The future oenologist has fond memories of tasting just a few drops of a 1967 Château dYquem with her parents at the Marie-Thérèse Chappaz vineyard in Fully. I must have been 11 or 12 years old. They told me, you have to enjoy it. It wasnt the first time that I tasted a late harvest wine. But that was something else. It was very complex, and had a long finish. It stayed with me.
Vary your pleasures
Sarah loves wines with character, like herself. I dont like them too sweet. My ideal wine needs to be dry and frank.
With a sparkle in her eyes, she recalls the recent tasting of a 1994 Dézaley Médinette from Louis-Philippe Bovard. A magnificent wine! From her family vineyards, Sarah prefers the Syrah, the Cornalin, and the Petite Arvine. You have to vary your pleasures.
But she says she regrets her oenological studies, saying they were too theoretical. Fortunately, there were internships. I worked at André Fontannaz, Vétroz, Urs Pircher, Eglisau, Nicolas Zufferey and Sierre. I learned a lot.
Sarahs father is proud fact that Sarah got her internships all by herself, refusing the help of his connections. It wasnt easy, he recalls. She applied to a wine estate, and [the owner] replied that they werent hiring. Not long after they contacted one of her classmates. She worked like a dog.
Sarah assures us that it isnt bad doing the same thing as your parents. Im lucky to have the same passion as them, she says. As for her future, she says nothing is definitive yet. First of all I am going to finish my degree and gain some experience elsewhere, and also improve my German. Ill return to the family business in two or three years. Then there will be a transition period. My parents still have a lot to teach me.
The question of whether or not she already has certain changes in mind seems to amuse her. Today it works fine. Youll never be able to change everything, lets be realistic. But I already have some ideas. Often, even my dad has already thought of them. He is always one step ahead, and that gives me confidence for the future. I know that if I need help, my parents will always be there for me."