Born into a family of distillers, Béatrice Cointreau, 57, could have opted for a charmed life. Her great-grandfather founded Cointreau liqueur and her grandfather launched Rémy Martin Cognac. She sat on the board of the family company, Groupe Renaud-Cointreau, beginning in her early twenties.
Instead Cointreau earned a masters’ degree in law and an MBA from Cornell. She also earned a string of diplomas in marketing, wine and perfumery. She branched out into public relations before taking on the Managing Director role at Cognac Frapin. She has also created perfumes, authored books and had three children.
Splitting time between France and California
“I used to be responsible for hundreds of people, but today I run more human-sized companies,” Cointreau says. “I realized that I feel more comfortable and make sure that we have a great team.”
She moved to Malibu in 2012 “to join my two eldest children after three surgeries… I decided to just retire.”
However, in 2013 Cointreau acquired what would become Admirable Vineyards.
“[To] cut a long story short, I acquired this piece of land with a couple of vines on, developed it, then bought the land next door… Today we have seven varietals.”
In 2015, Cointreau went on to create the French Champagne label, Tresor de France.
Adopting new technology is key
Cointreau, always an early adopter of new technology, stresses how much electronic communication has transformed her working day and given her more flexibility.
She explains that the two wineries “are at very different stages of development” and that this requires her to be active in two time zones.
“[In Malibu] I wake up at 5 am in order to connect with the French offices which are nine hours ahead, and I will start the day Skyping, and dealing with all the emails. Around 10 or 11, when the French offices close, I switch to U.S. meetings and keep going until around lunchtime,” says Cointreau.
Finding a work-life balance
Balance, however, is something she takes seriously.
“For the past year, I’ve learned how to dedicate some time to myself,” she says, “so instead of having lunch I go swimming, golfing or do pilates—just making sure that I have at least one hour outside where I’m just breathing. That really recharges my attitude.”
Cointreau needs the renewed energy as the day continues. “In the afternoon, I focus on the property itself: the bottles, the sales force, all the paperwork, which is always too much. This is what I do until happy hour—which starts quite early in the U.S.—then I start visiting my customers.”
The value of personal interaction with customers
Cointreau values personal interaction and relies on her experience: “For the past 30 years, I have had the same routine,” she says, “I am trying to meet the buyers or the media during these hours because I think that we are building human relationships over a glass of wine. I always say that my wines speak for themselves.”
Career advice for young women
When pressed for career advice for ambitious women, her answer is immediate.
“Don’t have any fear, just to what you are passionate about, trust your guts, trust yourself. Be confident and be kind, because if you are kind to others, it will come back to you.”
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