Chateau Carsin & Jones Winery & Vineyard
Hey! It's Nea again, this time writing about one of the most important relationships we've had at Carsin in our almost 30 years of winemaking. As you may already know, in 1990 my father Juha Berglund bought Chateau Carsin together with his sisters. (That was the second most important thing happening that year, as I was born in November of the same year.) Since very early days, Juha didn't think that copying the same methods as our neighbours in Bordeaux would be successful. He was probably right and at the time there were around 20 000 wineries in the area (today it's about 6000, though the vineyard area is the same). The new world wines were coming into Europe and he had been working in Australia in the late 80's.
Chateau Carsin became a modern winery in the heart of the traditional wine country. In 1990, we had 8 truckloads of stainless steel that came from Australia with the engineers who put the show together. We also had an Australian winemaker for over 10 years, as Mandy Jones came to take the cellar under control in early 90's. With her strong leadership, Carsin wines became known for their purity, fruitiness and their constant quality. These are still my core values as a current winemaker at Chateau Carsin.
In the late 90's, Mandy started going frequently back and forth between Bordeaux and her hometown Rutherglen, Australia, where she started to take the family winery under control. In 2003, she moved back to Rutherglen. Mandy now runs the Jones Winery & Vineyard together with her brother Arthur. She's the winemaker and Archie takes care of the vineyards. They also have a cozy restaurant at the estate, which serves French cuisine with a modern twist and local ingredients.
Bordeaux became Mandy's home for more than a decade and she has fond memories of the times she spent here. Together with Juha, they learned a lot about winemaking and running an estate. Their initial idea was to concentrate on the technical part and making the wines in the cellar. During those 10 years working together, they both understood that the wines are truly made in the vineyards, not in the cellars. Little by little, the concentration moved from the winemaking towards vineyard work.
"In terms of winemaking Bordeaux taught me that there is only so much a winemaker can do.. The essence of making good wines is the quality of the grapes." - Mandy Jones
Mandy still remembers well the initial resentment there was from the vineyard guys when she first ventured into their territory. She's happy to have had Juha’s full support and soon she gained the support of the vineyards guys as well. Nowadays, both Chateau Carsin in Bordeaux and Jones Winery & Vineyard in Rutherglen work hard to produce grapes and wines that reflect where they are grown and made.
I asked Mandy what was her favourite thing while working at Carsin? "The people of course! With so many positive and enthusiastic people around we had some very fine times. There were good times and even better times. Sometimes I think it was good that my Finnish was non-existent as I get the feeling there were also times that were best left “under the radar”. Things like broken ladders, mission impossibles, vinimatic seed picking parties, 20-hour-shifts, dinner at 10pm and 4am starts... Carsin is a lovely place to recover after the madness of vintage time. My absolute favourite thing about my time in France was Sunday lunch out!"
I came to do my first harvest at Chateau Carsin at the age of 15, and since then I've been coming every year. In those early years, I was indeed interested in wine but honestly, I didn't like working for my father. As a family member, I had to work all the weekends while others would go to the beach or shopping in the city. Apparently I didn't need to since I had been there already. Even after many years, I wasn't given any more responsibility and I was not included in any of the decisions. I didn't feel like I was learning, though I wanted to, at least in the beginning... In 2011, my understanding and thirst of wine grew as I was working in a restaurant and opening plenty of bottles every day, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to work in the production. I contacted Mandy in 2014 and she invited me to help her our with the harvest 2015 in Rutherglen. So I went!
With Mandy, I truly found the passion for winemaking. She taught me, explained and rationalised many things, she questioned and pushed me to better understand the whole picture of the work from vineyards to bottle. She also trusted me with the work and I gained plenty of confidence while working for her. I loved my time spent there, though I was a little afraid at first as I had heard many stories how the harvest workers were afraid of her at Carsin. Maybe she had softened a little bit over the years. However, I still keep the rumours going around during harvest at Carsin, thinking that maybe in that way my employees feel that they have it the easy way!
After my harvest at Jones Winery & Vineyard in 2015, I did my Master's in Bordeaux and now I run the everyday operations and winemaking at Carsin. Through the cellar and with my mentors I've become more passionate about the vineyard work as well, especially organic viticulture. I couldn't be happier to have followed Mandy's footprints here, and until this day, she still mentors me and helps me if needed. Some of the best advice she's given me is how to work with my father.
"The most important thing is, that Juha feels like his in control, even though truly you are".
This summer, I wanted to have some of her wines shipped to us. Now we have 7 different wines from Mandy in our webshop. We have the delicious white Marsanne, rich Shiraz and the rustique, beautiful L.J. from vintage 2015 when I worked with Mandy. We also have her Shiraz and L.J. from 2013 vintage and Malbec and Durif from 2016. The webshop is for Finnish clients only, for sales & shipping in other countries, please contact us by e-mail nea(a)carsin.com.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the story between Chateau Carsin & Jones Winery & Vineyard and the people behind these family wineries. For any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.