Women of Washington Wine: Virginie Bourgue of Lullaby Winery

By Kori ~ July 26th, 2010.

Today’s post is part of a series featuring the Women of Washington Wine. In an industry once dominated by men, more and more women are joining the ranks as winery owners, vineyard owners, and winemakers. Being a woman myself, I am fascinated by these women and what they have done and continue to do. Through this series, I hope to introduce you to some of the brightest female faces in the Washington wine industry.

Virginie Bourgue is the owner and winemaker for Lullaby Winery, a limited production winery in Walla Walla, Washington. A native of France, Virginie studied viticulture in Avignon and then received her master’s in enology in Champagne. She worked several jobs in the wine industry in France before accepting an internship at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington State in 2002. In 2003, she became winemaker for Bergevin Lane Winery in Walla Walla. After three years, she left Bergevin Lane to become winemaker for Cadaretta Winery and also started her own winery. In April of this year, Virginie left Cadaretta to focus full-time on her own Lullaby Winery as well as consulting opportunities in viticulture and winemaking.

I have had the pleasure to visit with Virginie on two occasions, most recently during the #WARose tasting with Paul Gregutt in June when I tasted her 2008 Lullaby Rosé for the first time. During our Washington Rosé Extravaganza later that month, her Lullaby Rosé was my personal favorite of the evening. True to her French roots, it is a Provence-style rosé that is excellent by itself and also very food-friendly.

Recently, Virginie was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for me and our Wine Peeps readers.

Highlights from Q&A with Virginie Bourgue:

How did you first get involved in the wine business?
I grew up in a vine grower’s family, so I guess, since I was born. As to when I first decided to get involved in the wine business, it is a different story. I was home in Provence working in a restaurant called La Bartavelle in Goult. I was a waitress/wine adviser, and watching these smiling faces after a lunch or dinner where the wine and the food were matched in a synergistic way is how I got first involved in the wine business.

What were the steps that led to where you are now?
There are not too many steps: studying, working hard, studying more, still working hard, and having a lot of fun whenever the opportunity arises.

Do you use the fact that you are a woman to promote your wines?
By calling my winery Lullaby, I am paying a tribute to Women and Femininity all the time.

What advice do you have for a woman wanting to get involved in the wine business today?
To follow her passion and to be herself.

What are your thoughts about the Washington wine industry, in general?
Washington State has been a great place to be in the last 8 years. I have witnessed the birth of many wineries, and I have even been part of the birth of a few. I also witnessed the growth of a few AVAs with more acreage being planted and the birth of new AVAs. In the meantime, some vineyards are getting more mature and the profile of the wines being produced is getting more settled and more distinctive. The wine community has always been very friendly. It has been a pure pleasure to be a part of such a vibrant industry.

In recent years the Washington wine industry has grown at a rapid rate. Do you expect that trend to continue?
The growth of the Washington Wine Industry has been tremendous since I arrived in 2002.  I have found the energy contagious, still to this day. I believe it will continue. More will happen in the future.

You recently left your position as winemaker at Cadaretta to focus all of your energy on your own winery. How did you decide that the time was right to go completely out on your own?
I went back to consulting in the areas of viticulture and winemaking along with running Lullaby. This allowed me to be more flexible and mobile.

What is your vision for the future of Lullaby Winery?
Lullaby will grow in the future gradually. My goal remains to produce wines that have balance, softness, complexity, soul, and a sense of place.

Many thanks to Virginie for sharing her story and thoughts with us. I wish her all the best and will be following her work and Lullaby Winery with great interest, and I hope that you will too.

Filed under: American Wine, Interview, Rose Wine, Washington State Wine, Women of Washington Wine

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