Share |

Like Father, Like Daughter

A few weeks ago I was guest at a small dinner at Benoit restaurant in Manhattan celebrating recent vintages of wines made by Pierre Seillan and his daughter, Hélène – Château Lassegue from St-Émilion and Vérité and Cenyth from Sonoma. Both Lassegue and Vérité grew out of a partnership forged almost 20 years ago by the late Jess Jackson and his wife, Barbara Banke, with Pierre and Monique Seillan, with Vérité’s 100-point ratings getting most of the headlines. Hélenè, now in her mid-20s, has grown up in the venture and has been gradually assuming more and more of the winemaking duties, including starting her own label, Cenyth. Until recently, European winemakers who owned estates acted somewhat like Henry VIII in his quest for a male heir (as is now popularly chronicled in PBS’ Wolf Hall), although certainly not as blood-thirsty in their obsession. But, like Henry, they hoped for a son to carry on the family business for another generation. Even in recent times, Piero Antinori decided to sell his family business after 25 generations before realizing his three daughters were willing and able to carry on into the 26th. In recent years, daughters joining fathers in the cellar is, frankly, commonplace. Pierre and Monique, as it happens, also have a son, Nicolas, who made a name for himself in the financial world before joining the Jackson-Seillan venture in an administrative capacity. He runs the business as Helene is learning to run the cellars both in Bordeaux and Sonoma. I have known the Seillans for several years now, and I left the dinner feeling proud of Pierre, Monique and Hélène – a warm story to go with truly great wines. But I left New York also realizing there are still some important gaps to be filled in the saga of the passing generational torches. Of course, sexual bigotry still exists in general and within families against women taking over winemaking chores, but gains over the past two decades have been phenomenal. Now, I hope to live long enough to see another rarity become common – today’s women winemakers who have children making the decision to turn over the cellar to a daughter – or a son. Like mother, like son. The second gap I would like to see tumble is generational succession in restaurants. It is rare that there is any generational passing of knives from parent to child in the food businesses. Unlike wineries, where multi-generational businesses are a dime a case, restaurants unfortunately are a much-more-fragile undertaking. They are more like shooting stars than comets, brilliant for a short time before flaming out. Alas, most chefs don't get the choice of deciding if their daughter or son will take over the kitchen.
Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

Recommended Reading

No related items were found.