When André Perret was growing up in Chavanay, in the northern Rhône Valley, most of the land there was planted to orchards, including the bulk of the family’s own small estate. Their roots were in Burgundy, though, where André’s forefathers owned and worked vineyards in Chassagne-Montrachet until World War II forced them to relocate. As a young man André studied biology and took a job as a cancer researcher, but he felt cooped up in the laboratory and dreamt of a life outdoors. In 1982, after completing a degree in viticulture and enology, he returned to his hometown and started out with a few small rows of vines that had belonged to his uncle. At that time there were just two other vignerons in Chavanay and the region was in decline, but he believed profoundly in the value of the local terroirs and worked hard to valorize the area, becoming president of the department’s association of young agriculturalists and establishing programs that would encourage people to settle down and plant vineyards there. He also worked tirelessly to develop his own estate, expanding production by renting vineyards and replanting the family lands to vines. Today he is proud to be surrounded by dynamic, passionate young vignerons and to see that most of his neighbors’ children are eager to take over the family estates as they grow up.
Perret’s approach to winegrowing is classic: respect each individual terroir—he produces several single-vineyard wines—and work the soil to avoid the need for chemical treatments. His goal is to make fresh, structured wines, in “a sort of Burgundian style” as he says, but without too much wood; wines that aren’t too worked over and will age well. His Condrieu bottlings are reference points for the entire appellation. In 1995 André built a new cellar, but he has never expanded beyond the very best terroirs and keeps the estate small so he can maintain his standards of manual labor in the vineyards and individual attention to all of his wines.