Nicolas Lainé (MSc Wine Business Graduate), now Export Manager and Wine Tourism-Events Manager at Château de Meursault
"Obtaining a professional degree was a pre-requisite to work in the wine business."
The MSc Wine Business was created in 2009 and is one of three degree programmes on offer at the School of Wine & Spirits Business. It is taught entirely in English and is designed for professionals with experience in the field of wine who wish to become managers in the sector or start their own company.
The School of Wine & Spirits Business has awarded degrees to nearly 1,000 graduates from all over the world and is a top choice for students, academics and consulting professionals from across the globe. The resulting student population and faculty is exceptionally intercultural, with more than a dozen different nationalities in each graduating class.
Hello Nicolas. What is your educational background and where does your love for the world of wine come from?
I began my studies with a Bachelor in International Commerce. I liked its concrete approach to learning and felt it mirrored the realities of company life. I spent my second year in California, and this experience was not only the opportunity to grow as a person, but I was also fortunate enough to discover the world of wine through tasting the different locally produced wines whose aromas were so different from those of French wines. This experience revealed just how rich the world of wine is and, wine quickly became my passion.
Why did you do a degree in wine and why did you choose to the MSc Wine Business?
When I came back to France, I continued to explore this field and had the chance to participate in different wine shows, including Vinexpo in Bordeaux, and the Independent Winemakers Exhibition, where I spoke with people who work in the field of wine. I realised that while all of these professionals, and, in particular, the independent winemakers, have the same passion, many do not know how to talk about wine and therefore do not know how to sell it. My professional project became clear. I decided to pursue my studies with a Masters in wine. As I did not have a network or family in the wine business, choosing one that is professionally oriented was a pre-requisite to work in the field.
Among the 3 degree programmes on the French market, the MSc Wine Business was the only one that really met my needs: 1- a degree taught entirely in English to acquire the technical and business vocabulary that is absolutely necessary in a field in which most transactions take place at the international level. 2- cultural and professional diversity, which was a big strong point in our graduating class. There is an undeniable cultural aspect in tasting wine, which, in turn, fosters rich exchanges and opportunities to learn about the specificities of different markets. 3- the location in Burgundy.
Why is studying in Burgundy an asset?
I love the approach to wine-making which is deeply rooted in the region's terroir. It's a fascinating region that produces some of the best wines in the world with only two grape varieties, Pinot and Chardonnay. What's more, so many incredible wines are produced in such a small geographical area. I am also touched by the humility of the wine-makers, who truly understand the soil and who can grow Pinot and Chardonnay like no one else in the world. Since the 90's, Burgundy wines have been extremely successful in the entire world. They are in high demand despite a very limited production. It is a real stake for this wine-making region.
How has the degree been useful for your career?
The degree offers both the technical and business aspects that are needed to work in the field of wine.
I learnt a lot from the technical courses given by professionals, notably Claude Chapuis, professor at the School of Wine & Spirits Business, and a very well-known Burgundy wine-maker himself. The wine tasting courses offered by the UVB were also of great interest. In addition to learning the techniques to identify aromas, the flaws in wines, olfactory evaluation, the course at the School allowed me to understand the extent to which tasting a wine is a subjective experience, which is not only specific to one's culture, but also to each individual.
In terms of the business aspect, I really learnt a lot from our case studies dealing with the business specificities of each country. Scandinavian countries work with monopolies, like in Canada. The US set up a very specific distribution channel that absolutely must be followed. Taxes and administrative documents also vary from country to country. We studied how different countries work in terms of business and today, it is second nature for me to find the pertinent information and legal specificities in a country before considering exporting our wines there. Importers and specialised transporters are often very well informed and help answer these questions. Lastly, a substantial part of the degree focus is on marketing: learning how to sell yourself, learning how to use blogs and social networks to generate publicity, as well as learning different Internet referencing techniques. We also participated in a conference about the digital world in the field of wine in Turkey.
What did you do after receiving your MSC, and what job do you have today?
After graduating, I immediately found a hands-on job in a shop called "Place des Grands Crus" in Beaune: I met a lot of people and was able to expand my network. I notably met the CEO of
Château de Meursault. My profile was a match with the firm and was lucky to go through the interview process before the post had been officially made public. I started at Château de Meursault in 2013 as Project Manager for Events and Wine Tourism, after which I quickly became the Manager of this activity. Today, I am also Export Manager of Château de Meursault and of Château de Marsannay for half of the world.