Veronique Raskin grew up in the South of France where as a young girl she helped her grandmother tend her garden and her grandfather pick extraordinary fruits and vegetables, as the sweet perfume of wildflowers wafted across the meadows. The land was farmed as Mother Nature intended, using organic fertilizers and growing complementary crops in such a way as to not require chemical pesticides. She used to love watching her family’s horse pull a wagon brimming with Syrah, Cinsault and Carignane grapes from the vineyard to later be painstakingly fermented into the finest French wines.
She grew up and away from this region of artists and craftsmen but its deep impressions on her heart shaped the way she would later create her business and treat her customers. She eventually came to the United States to complete her PhD but the Old World still called to her. In 1980 she decided to form The Organic Wine Company and bring wines from her La Bousquette region homeland here, to allow Americans to experience their unique spirit.
When I first spoke with Veronique I knew that I had met a woman not only of passion, strength and intellect, but of strong values. If you have visited France, particularly regions outside of major cities, you will likely have been struck by the attention to detail of its merchants. I have wonderful memories of the cheese shop with its carefully cut cubes on display under glass domes on pedestals, the green beans in the produce shop lined up in perfect rows and the way the owner of the boulangerie would greet each regular customer by name as they entered to pick up their baguette for the evening meal. (For more on that read 4 Key Business Lessons From European Entrepreneurs). This level of pride and attention to service is not often seen in this country. Veronique told me the story of a customer who ordered a high end bottle of wine from her website. She took the opportunity to call the customer and ask about her tastes and culinary habits and in the end actually recommended a less expensive wine that she thought would be a better fit. Her interest was not in the transaction as much as in the long term relationship. It is this true caring for the customer experience that has set her apart for the past 36 years.
The Organic Wine Company attracts customers who recognize that if they won’t eat conventional grapes due to their high pesticide content, it probably doesn’t make much sense to drink them. And lest you believe that by the time the grapes are fermented it doesn’t make a difference, a French study found pesticide residue in 100% of the non-organic bottles tested! And since pesticides are known neurotoxins, one can logically conclude that the smartest people drink organic wine!
But it isn’t only people who understand the value of organic who flock to The Organic Wine Company. According to Veronique, there is an increasing number of vegans looking for wine that has been filtered with betonite clay rather than egg, as most wines typically are. She also finds that people with allergies or digestive problems who have had to forego drinking wine are able to enjoy the pleasure of a glass of her carefully curated organic and vegan varieties.
I can personally attest to the deliciousness of Veronique’s selection of well-priced wines. She is clearly not only an expert on her product but generous of her time in sharing her knowledge. If you have ever thought about taking a class in wine tasting, why not start by giving Veronique a call? Believe it or not she will actually pick up the phone, and the education she will provide as she guides you through making your selection will transport you back to an old French vineyard. For a moment, you may think you can hear the family horse in the background, pulling a wagon full of grapes ready to be fermented into the finest wines.