It be a long system from Gippsland to Burgundy. It be an very perfect greater leap from doing highlights in an upmarket Melbourne hair salon to being topped winemaker of the 365 days by France’s most revered wine magazine.
For Jane Eyre, it took 23 years of long days in vineyards and unhurried nights balancing the books prior to the pay-off arrived on a grey day in January this 365 days.
A decade after starting her own winery, Eyre used to be named négociant of the 365 days by influential wine trade magazine La Revue du Vin de France.
“It be been impossible,” she says. “I wasn’t willing for the reaction. I’ve delicate been attempting to preserve with emails and folk ordering wine, modern importers, modern sommeliers.
“I on no account, ever belief I would salvage to this degree.”
A négociant is an independent winemaker who would no longer own their very own winery, as an quite lots of attempting to derive grapes deliver from growers.
Veritably La RVF’s top honour goes to French négociants with prosperous pedigrees. Eyre is no longer easiest the first Australian, however the first woman, to damage that file.
“I’m very little when put next to rather about a négociants,” she says. “I started off with one wine and 5 barrels — about 1,500 bottles — whereas the gargantuan properties right here in Burgundy create thousands and thousands of bottles.
“I produce no longer even create 20,000. It did no longer even harmful my thoughts that I would salvage something like this.”
Making a status for herself
As for her literary name, Eyre says she has no idea why her mother selected it. Despite owning eight copies of Charlotte Brontë’s most notorious work, she’s on no account if truth be told learn it.
But now she’s making a status for herself, and her achievements are even more spectacular if you consider where she started.
“My dad’s idea of a cellar used to be about a boxes of wine stuck within the nook of the chicken shed,” she says. “But we aged to perambulate up to Descend’s Creek for skiing and in summer season, and we would constantly stop off at Brown Brothers.
“I used to be most regularly more within the bowl of cheese than the wines.”
After throwing within the towel of faculty, Eyre received a hairdressing apprenticeship in a South Yarra salon, which she loved however wasn’t keen about.
She developed an interest in wine, and ended up doing vintage in Burgundy in 1998 after a large gamble dialog with a shopper who used to be married to wine author, Jeremy Oliver.
Once assist in Melbourne, Eyre did a wine science degree at Charles Sturt University and received a job at a wine store in St Kilda.
“That’s where I if truth be told learnt about wine,” she says. “We had sommeliers from your total restaurants could be found and assign monthly masterclasses.”
In 2004, Eyre made the permanent switch to Beaune, a town of about 25,000 folk that is the heart of Burgundy, about a hours’ drive south-east of Paris, between Dijon and Lyon.
“We’ve received appropriate shops, an goal contemporary produce market, deal of sizable restaurants and a total bunch global folk,” she says.
“It be definitely a bubble. It be no longer like living in a little winemaking village.”
‘It could probably perchance perhaps be nights, weekends, lunchtimes’
She first labored for eminent vigneron Dominique Lafon, and later as assistant winemaker to Chris Newman at Domaine Newman.
Whereas she dreamed of making her own wines, it wasn’t a straightforward dream to realise in Burgundy.
This little however mighty wine net page is famous for producing about a of the most costly pinot noir and chardonnay on this planet.
In 2019, a single hectare of grand cru winery label, on realistic, €6.5 million (spherical $AU10 million) — if it’s worthwhile to perchance perhaps derive one for sale within the first net page.
It be one reason Burgundy now has dozens of négociants, which makes for fierce competition to nab the most easy grapes.
In 2011, armed with a barrel donated by Newman, a €6,000 loan from a pal in Melbourne and encouragement from Benjamin Leroux, a Beaune-born celeb of Burgundy wine, Eyre made the leap.
It used to be a tough slog, especially as she used to be solo parenting her toddler daughter, Stella.
“Like the total lot, it be had its challenges,” she says. “Salaries aren’t severely appropriate. And I if truth be told started from scratch, with none money, and then received divorced within the device of having a if truth be told modern industry and a if truth be told young child.
“It could probably perchance perhaps be nights, weekends, lunchtimes, delicate whenever I could perchance perhaps match it in … It be been tough, however I selected it so I will’t whinge.”
Eyre uses Dominique Lafon’s sorting and pressing equipment to for the time being — it will in any other case label spherical half 1,000,000 Euros to hold — and shares a home with him at Chateau de Bligny Les Beaune, about 5 minutes from her home.
“It sounds remarkable more glamorous than it if truth be told is. It be a 14th-century chateau however I’m no longer positive which bit is left from the 14th century because it appears prefer it used to be in-built the seventies.”
The princess of pinot
She has been referred to as “the princess of pinot”, however for the time being Eyre makes spherical half a dozen diversified wines in Burgundy and Australia. And there’s nothing remotely princessy about her.
“Jane’s very humble,” says Andrew Nielsen of Le Grappin wines, a fellow “Ozgundian” who does tastings with Eyre within the UK.
“She’s been in Burgundy a really long time and her jobs within the vines and winery imply she’s learnt loads,” he says. “She’s achieve that into discovering sizable vineyards to work with and making engaging wines.”
But Eyre deflects recommendations that she has any fabricate of uncommon reward: “I produce no longer own any stutter talent that I couldn’t name in 20 diversified folk that I fancy and who assign an awesome job,” she insists.
Jim Chatto, who makes pinot with Eyre at his winery in Tasmania, thinks in any other case. The 2 met when Chatto and his household went to Burgundy to work the 2019 harvest.
What struck him most about Eyre used to be her deep recordsdata and enthusiasm for the terroir of her adopted home.
“What makes Jane so special is her ability to respect native traditions, whilst making if truth be told absorbing, and delicious, interpretations of the vineyards she works with,” he says. “Jane has nurtured solid, collaborative, relationships along with her growers. She is meticulous along with her ability, however detached launch to modern ideas.”
When pushed, Eyre says her easiest key’s working with sizable growers, and being stutter in regards to the fruit she puts within the tanks (“And then I goal remarkable delicate depart them alone,” she says).
Smooth, she’s very hands-on, conserving in regular contact with growers to know when the most easy grapes will top.
She picks them (with assist from friends and household), forms them, and needless to dispute oversees the gradual journey into the bottle, even dipping the corks in wax and making use of labels herself. Then there’s the tastings, conferences with patrons and distribution to net page up.
Whereas a assortment of females own taken over household domains today, it be uncommon to derive solo female négociants. Most come as portion of a pair.
“As far as being a female with out a accomplice, who started from scratch — I in actual fact can’t name anyone else. There wants to be, I will’t factor in that I’m the most easy one,” she says.
‘Every thing’s long gone crazy’
When France introduced its first COVID lockdown a 365 days ago and all bars, restaurants and non-fundamental shops closed, most of Eyre’s income streams dried up overnight.
“Clearly there used to be no more restaurant trade, and all of the importers, the total lot, delicate went on assist,” she says.
She had little financial padding to cushion the impact — she’s detached yet to pay herself a wage.
“As a négociant you hold fruit yearly and you own to pay for it in three instalments — at the stop of December, the stop of March and the stop of June,” she says.
“You can successfully be no longer selling the wines for 12 to 18 months, so money float is constantly a self-discipline … I’m constantly living on the brink because every 365 days I grow. Your total money goes assist into the industry.”
Eyre decided to supply the most costly wine in her cellar to some non-public potentialities en primeur, explaining that she needed the money to pay her tasks.
Non-public potentialities “are totally delighted to assist when it be a little industry”, she says of the decision, including it “if truth be told labored if truth be told successfully”.
On the opposite hand it additionally planted the seed for a positive more or much less self-discipline to come up when demand for her wine skyrocketed this 365 days. “I believed, if I produce no longer create as remarkable wine this 365 days it be no longer so frightening as I if truth be told own stock that is already sold,” she says.
“So I did no longer create so remarkable, and now the total lot’s long gone crazy and I’m going to speed out of wine. On the opposite hand it be definitely a greater self-discipline to own.”
Eyre muses about eventually attempting to derive a little winery as a legacy for her daughter. But for now her idea is just to own a idea. Her early backer from Melbourne, a “successful industry man”, will be totally delighted to hear it.
“He said to me the diversified day, ‘Jeez, your wine wants to be appropriate, since it’s worthwhile to perchance perhaps successfully be if truth be told ineffective at industry’,” she says. “I’ve managed to bumble along this far, however there wants to be a idea now to grow. To create it in order that I will if truth be told live to explain the story it.
“You understand, I produce no longer desire to be the largest individual in Burgundy, however I delicate desire it to be gargantuan satisfactory that it makes me a little of money.”