Vermont Wine Producer Travels to Eastern France to Learn Wine-Making Techniques

By David Vives

Wine producer Michael Judy traveled to eastern France from Vermont, United States to learn everything he could about wine. High above a valley he found a village famous for its beautiful landscapes and yellow wine—Château-Chalon.

Native wine producer François Rousset-Martin welcomed Judy into his home, and shared with him his knowledge of wine-making. Rousset-Martin owns different vineyards around Château-Chalon and has develop his own recipe to produce wine.

“We are working on wines that can have to a hundred year. We keep them aging so that we can have very high quality wines that taste a variety of aromas,” Rousset-Martin told NTD.

Wine producer François Rousset-Martin in an interview with NTD. (David Vives/NTD)

Most American wines come from hybrid vines resulting from crossbreeding between American and European vines.

This allows the Vermont vines to withstand the cold temperatures of the region.

Vermont is still far from having the reputation of California wines, but that doesn’t discourage the 27-year-old.

Judy began growing grapes in Vermont this spring. Currently, he has the grapes growing on 2.5 acres, but wants to scale up his vineyard.

Michael Judy went to Chateau Châlon village to participate in grape harvest. (David Vives/NTD)

“I think there are about ten wine producers in Vermont, and as far as I know I’m the youngest of all of them. There are two or three people that kind of started it,” Judy said.

While in France for 5 months, Judy found inspiration in Château-Chalon, a place where time seems to have stopped.

“The biggest thing I connected with in France is tradition. People have been making products for centuries, with the same recipes as their grandpa, their grandpa’s grandpa,” he added.

I think tradition is a blessing and a curse. In the United States, we can do whatever we want because there is no tradition. It’s kind of hard for us because we have no recipe, no formula to follow to make our wine.”

Grapes harvested at Chateau-Châlons vineyards. (David Vives/NTD)

In Château-Chalon, nuns began producing wine hundreds of years ago, and their formulas are still being passed on.

Winegrowers use several methods to age their wine over decades.

For example, according to Rousset-Martin, some winegrowers fill their entire barrel to keep the flavor of the wine intact. And others, like him, only fill it three-quarters full. Air allows mould will form on the surface, protecting the wine and nourishing it.

François Rousset-Martin Wine cave, filled with barrels and a figure of Saint Antoine. Tradition kept a very important place for Wine producer, as different saints were believed to watch over wine producers. (David Vives/NTD)

When Judy goes back to Vermont, he hopes to start a cooperative to help new winemakers in Vermont and pass on the recipes he’s learned in France.