How Charles de Bournet is Leading Domaines Bournet-Lapostolle Through a New Chapter

Charles de Bournet of Domaines Bournet Lapostolle.
Charles de Bournet of Domaines Bournet-Lapostolle / Photo courtesy of Domaines Bournet-Lapostolle

The perfect work day, according to Charles de Bournet Marnier Lapostolle, entails playing a round of golf with an important client “and getting a container deal out of it.” Unfortunately for the seventh-generation member of one of the drink world’s most renowned families, there are only so many perfect days in a year.

Based in Santiago, Chile, de Bournet, the Swiss-born son of Lapostolle Winery and Clos Apalta founders Alexandra Marnier-Lapostolle and Cyril de Bournet, spends about 200 days a year traveling outside of Chile. Name a country where wine matters, and de Bournet has likely been there in an effort to promote and/or sell his family’s Chilean wines and KAPPA, the pisco brand de Bournet created several years ago through a subsidiary called Perigee Spirits.

In 2017, de Bournet visited more than 20 countries, from neighboring Argentina and Brazil to the United States and Canada as well as much of Europe and Asian markets, including China, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. It’s an exhausting lifestyle, even for this 36-year-old sports and fitness buff.

“Our company goal is as simple as it is ambitious: to consolidate our position as the leading producer of premium wines and spirits from Chile. As for my personal goal, it’s to keep my weight in check. I have client lunches and dinners almost every day,” he said.

What’s a Normal Day?

“I wish I had normal days, but I don’t have many because of all the travel,” de Bournet lamented. “When I’m home in Chile, I go to the winery (in the Colchagua Valley) from Tuesday to Thursday for meetings and to be with my team. But I am usually fighting jet leg. So, I try to have my important meetings and do my emailing and other correspondence in the mornings,” de Bournet said.

Until recently, those meetings and emails had a lot to do with reorganizing DBL’s business structure, which was transformed in 2016 when the Marnier-Lapostolle family sold its international wine and spirits holdings, including the cordial brand Grand Marnier, to the Italian drinks giant Campari for a reported $750 million. But when the family quickly paid about $30 million to buy back its Chilean operations Clos Apalta, Lapostolle and the Clos Apalta Residence, a Relais & Chateaux hotel that de Bournet’s parents opened in 2005 adjacent to the Clos Apalta winery—it was game (back) on for de Bournet.

“Someone once told me that with spirits, brands carry the people. But with wine, people carry the brands. I couldn’t agree more, and that’s what makes this a fascinating challenge. You can’t employ the same process for each product,” he noted.

To that end, de Bournet recently wrapped up a lengthy reorganization of what is now a much smaller family company. (The winery’s average production is about 200,000 cases per year.) Longtime winemaker Jacques Begarie is now focusing 100% on Clos Apalta, a world-class red wine made almost entirely from old-vines grapes grown at the Apalta vineyard in Colchagua. Meanwhile, Andrea León, who has been with Lapostolle for over a decade and has worn many hats—from winemaker to communications director—was promoted to technical director for Lapostolle wines.

“At the distribution level we are moving forward with a special focus on Chile, China and the USA,” said de Bournet. As for the United States, de Bournet recently changed importers to Winebow Group from the Terlato Wine Group.

“Now that Lapostolle is back in the company, we have to move ahead without the backing of Grand Marnier,” the famous orange-infused elixir created in 1880 by the French négociant Alexandre Marnier, de Bournet’s great-great grandfather.

“Winebow is a leader among premium wine importers, with its own distribution in more than 30 states. They are the best option at this time for Lapostolle.”


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Published on January 19, 2018
Topics: A Day In The Life