Meet the winemaker - John and Nicole Bojanowski

Clos du Gravillas are situated in St Jean de Minervois in the Languedoc-Roussillon. Their vineyards, 8.5 hectares on the 270 metre altitude Causses of St Jean and Cazelles, benefit from ample summer sunny days and a cooling breeze blowing down off of the Montagne Noire at night. John and Nicole Bojanowski, long-time favourites of Les Caves (and all round good eggs) make excellent elegant, terroir-driven wines which can be happily sipped by themselves or with a host of delectable dishes. 

We decided to ask John some questions about winemaking, his dreams of being Mick Jagger, the growing importance of rugby to both of them and what grape variety he and Nicole are most like……

What made you want to be a winemaker?

My wife, Nicole, was the one who decided she wanted to become a grower, to make her "Grand Vin de Languedoc". She had already been working in wine export for 7 years and decided to take the next step, when we met in 1994.  I was working from Paris, in high tech, and mostly in Eastern Europe.  I left that and decided to join her.  She needed someone to drive the tractors (she did it herself for a few months, but she really prefers hand vineyard work, like pruning and leaf thinning).  Nicole thought the life of a vigneron was noble.

How many years have you been making wine?

We just finished our 18th harvest.  First one was in 1999.  We started working with you all in 2004 or 2005.

If you hadn’t become a winemaker, what would be your dream job?

Nicole would be a dancer, I would be lead singer of the Rolling Stones (or Frank Sinatra if I couldn't be Mick).

What do you like best about your job?

Cleaning up after Real Wine.  I really feel useful.  After that, I like blending wines.  Such small changes in the blends can make such a big difference.  Nicole likes most to be out in her vines, in the springtime.

What is your favourite type of wine to drink?

Wine made by good friends.  Even better is when we drink it with them.

What is your winemaking philosophy/approach to making wine?

Vin Naïve. (me, not Nicole).  The hard part is making beautiful, delicious, ripe grapes.  Once we've achieved that, then we just try not to mess up the juice.  Sometimes people who have too many winemaking toys feel obliged to use them.  Like in the animated film, Ratatouille, Anybody Can Make Great Wine. It's a question of choices (and the willingness to make hard decisions and roll up your sleeves.) 

 What do you do in your free time?

I sing in a vocal ensemble, Les Croq's Mots Notes. We're 7 singers, a pianist and often a Chef de Cuisine.  Our show ranges from La Traviata to Bohemian Rhapsody and Sinatra's duo, Somethin' Stupid.  When we do the full show, our Chef cooks a four course meal, we have a few sommeliers serving (and talking about) wines, and the singers are also the servers. For the past seven years, I've been more and more interested in Rugby. Our son's fault. We're aiming for a spot on the USA Eagles team; he's in the States and rugby is a spring sport there. Nicole dances (has been Sevilliane, Oriental, currently Zumba).  She likes to move.  She also likes to read and think about wines.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned during your winemaking career?

Keep it clean.  

If you were a grape variety what would you be and why?

Piquepoul Gris. We are both luscious, juicy, unusual and fresh.  

And finally, if you had to choose your last meal what would it be?

Amour et eau fraiche! If no love or clean cold water available, then I've got a hankering for a super sauerkraut.

Clos du Gravillas will be showing their wines at The Real Wine Fair 2017, on the 7th and 8th May at Tobacco Dock, if you can’t wait until then to sample their fantastic wines then contact us directly: shop@lescaves.co.uk/ 01483 554750