7 Questions for Chloé Asseo-Fabre, General Manager, L’Aventure Wine
On a press trip to Paso Robles last April, I had the good fortune to meet up with Chloé Asseo-Fabre, general manager, L’Aventure Wine, at a dinner hosted at Denner Vineyards. This followed an educational panel of winemakers from the Willow Creek Sub AVA of Paso Robles, which included Booker Wines, Caliza Winery, Denner, Clos Solène and Paix sur Terre. She was pouring her Estate Cuvée Blanc and Estate Cuvée alongside her colleagues from Denner, Epoch Estate Wines, MAHA and McPrice Myers.
I was especially intrigued by Chloé because, while she grew up on her family’s vineyard in Paso, her degree from FIDM University was in marketing and visual communication in fashion. Prior to returning to Paso to join the family winery, her professional experience began in Paris and Bordeaux working in retail for high-end brands. In the wine industry—still mostly run by older white males—it was refreshing to be hearing from a young woman in a position of influence.
Q1: Thanks for talking with us today, Chloé. What’s currently going on at the winery and in the vineyard?
A: Well, it’s almost summer and the vineyard is starting to look beautiful and we have a promising vintage in terms of quantity ahead. Right now, our vineyard crew is working tirelessly in moving wires (trap wires) up to keep the shoots vertical. We use a VSP (vertical shoot position) trellis system. They are also shoot thinning (cutting off) additional shoots, removing anything more than two shoots per spur. They are also monitoring the bloom stages and spraying sulfur when ready.
Q2: What’s your favorite time of year at L’Aventure and why?
A: If I am wearing my marketing hat, I would say the release of our new vintage to our members. This used to happen in March, but we have recently made the decision to move the club release to the fall. It’s so satisfying to see our members and loyal supporters discover the new vintage and get excited to get their shipment.
If I am wearing more the production hat (and keep in mind production is not my job), my favorite time is when we decide on blends. I am involved in the final blends for each wine, for each vintage. It usually happens in March with my father, his production team and our partners. We taste anywhere from three to five different blends blind for each wine we produce and make the final decision on the blend. I love it because you get to discover and decide which blend best fit the vintage and how it will taste right after bottling, a year after bottling, five, 10 years after bottling, etc. Each year is different which keeps the excitement going.
Q3: You were 7 years old when your parents, Beatrice and Stephan, moved you from Bordeaux, France, to Paso. Did you grow up knowing that you would one day join the family business?
A: Not at all. When I was very young, I wanted to be an actress but, as I got older and wiser 😉 I found a passion in fashion and ended up doing my studies in that field. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I not once thought I would join the family business. My parents never pressured me (or my brothers for that matter) to join the family business. They wanted us to follow our passions and let us make our own discoveries. I honestly think that it was the best thing they could have done for us as we went off exploring, discovering, traveling and figuring out on our own what we wanted to do. My brothers ended up doing different things: my oldest brother, Antoine, went off to get his doctorate in physics and now works in San Francisco; Julien, my other brother, ended up becoming a chef and in October 2019 has opened his own restaurant in Paso Robles called Les Petites Canailles; and I ended up joining the family business a few years after graduating college.
Q4: As general manager of the winery, what is your favorite aspect of the job? What was the most difficult for you to learn?
A: My favorite part of the job is being involved in every aspect of the company and making sure that I maintain and grow the success of L’Aventure. For me it’s more than a job or a title, it’s my parent’s legacy that I want to maintain.
As for the second part of the question, I don’t know what was the most difficult to learn. I think my biggest challenge (which is different from it being difficult) at first was finding the confidence to lead on my own and without the help of my parents.
Q5: How has your winery evolved over the years—from when your family moved to Paso in 1998 until now—and what’s next for your brand?
A: It has definitely evolved and in a very good way. We started off with a bare piece of land, with no winery or tasting room. Over the years we planted our 60 acres and in 2008 we became 100% estate production. We built our winery with a tiny tasting room back in 1998 and then by 2016 we had completed underground caves and a brand-new tasting room. Since then, we have been developing, even more, our DTC and strengthened our national distribution and export.
What’s next? A lot of things 😊 I can’t share all of it but one thing we are working on is being more present with our consumers. We want to do more wine dinners, more tastings outside of our tasting room and promote not only our wines but the Paso Robles region.
Q6: Wine is often seen as a glamorous industry, filled with luxury and the good things in life. What do you love about your work with wine?
A: Don’t get me wrong, it can be very fun and “glamorous,” especially when you get to travel, meet wonderful people, have amazing meals and create beautiful memories. With that said, don’t let it fool you as that is only one part of the industry! The main part is a little less glamourous, it can be stressful and involves hard work, determination and long hours (especially during harvest time).
Q7: Women are just beginning to make an impact in the wine industry as more and more are becoming winemakers, managers and growers. What advice would you give to a woman looking to join the industry?
A: Do it! Anything is possible and follow your gut. There are so many different possibilities in this industry and so many ways to get in. I am a strong believer that if you are motivated and willing to learn than you can achieve anything.
Created in 1998 by Stephan and Beatrice Asseo, L’Aventure is a boutique, family-owned winery located on the west side of Paso Robles on California’s Central Coast. After making wine in Bordeaux for 17 years, Stephan wanted to have more freedom with his viticulture techniques and create new wines representative of his new Paso “terroir.” He is deeply involved in every detail, from pruning to bottling and has become known for his Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blends, like the Optimus and the Estate Cuvee.