In 2011 the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti moved into the spacious surroundings of the newly refurbished cuverie of the monks of St.Vivant.
This (now) impressive building sits right across from the church in the centre of Vosne-Romanée and was for years the resting-place the domaine’s maturing barrels. The large courtyard is dominated by the sculpture of a winged angel, a gift from an artist who married into one of the owning families. I asked Aubert de Villaine if such a figure would have been entirely appropriate for the monks who once lived here, and with a smile he says “well I suppose it might have given them something to think about!” The refurbished building makes a good attempt at melding together architecture, both old and new; the airy interior is all glass and oak – though apparently this is the only oak in the place not from François Frères! The building provides a significant upgrade to the working environment of the staff, light pouring through multiple windows that face the vines of Vosne – a stark contrast to the dimly lit rooms of their older offices; Aubert de Villaine once-more jokes “In 1911 when my grandfather, Edmond Gaudin de Villaine, established our offices in Vosne-Romanée he said that they would only be temporary – in that he was correct, but it took one-hundred years for us to make the move.”
Despite its renown, the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti had always been a very discreet operation; in a way it is the same today – no nameplate adorns the gated entrance to these new offices – not yet anyway.
That said, it seems to me that, the times they are a changing. Like it or not, DRC bottles might be sold at auction for multiples of a modest annual salary, and like a piece of Louis Vuitton, an expensive watch or an iPad bought on a whim and never used, the domaine’s produce have become ‘luxury goods’ – they just need a ‘brand manager’ now! Although it won’t have been part of the planning (I expect) the domaine now has offices that are, perhaps, more appropriate to receiving such high-rollers!
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