For two and a half weeks across February and March a pair of dedicated technical experts crisscrossed the land.

They drove many thousands of kilometres, from inland New South Wales to the tranquil Riverland region in South Australia, across to the Barossa and back to the picturesque Pyrenees and Yarra Valley regions of Victoria.

Their mission? Consult, liaise with, translate and assist dealers and customers on all matters Gregoire.

Emilie De Cock, Inspecteur Technique Grand Export with Gregoire France, and Adam Wellington, PFG Australia’s resident technical product expert, ensured winemakers received the very best attention during harvest.

“I look after countries that are far away from France,” said Emilie. “I visit New Zealand, Canada, USA, Russia and Ukraine – although sadly not at the moment – China, Cyprus, Israel, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Most years I’m travelling for two to three months.”

Notably, Gregoire has drawn a number of its staff from the French Air Force. Emilie herself spent 21 years as a technician and mechanic on fighter jets and training aircraft.

“A friend let me know about an opportunity at Gregoire,” she said. “I didn’t know much about wine growing, but about varieties I did and the knowledge of machinery and software is transferrable.”

This was Emilie’s third trip to Australia. She teamed up with Adam, as per previous occasions, to catch up with the dealer network and visit winemakers as they readied themselves for the all-important harvesting.

“We see as many dealers as possible,”
said Adam, “to ensure the new machines are performing properly and give them any support they might need. While Emilie is here she helps me in that role. Because these harvesters are a large investment, we also develop a relationship with the owners.”

Direct contact with tractor or machinery buyers is not the typical blueprint for sales and technical personnel at PFG, but the viticulture industry is an exception. It also enables the likes of Emilie and Adam to sample some of the finest products from the vine!

On a more serious note, Adam explained that Gregoire owners and winemakers in general are totally committed to their craft and passionate about what they produce, just as he and Emilie are passionate about ensuring these highly-technical machines are working optimally.

“One of the great advantages of having Emilie here with me in the field,” said Adam, “is the ability to communicate directly with the technical staff at Gregoire in France. If there are any issues or suggestions for improvement Emilie can translate back to the factory and offer real-time feedback.”

For such a well-seasoned traveller, Emilie always finds something new and intriguing about coming to Australia. The difference in landscapes and climates from one region to the next means a variety of grape and planting practices – although her main focus is the machinery.

“We saw many GL8.6 twin bin harvesters,” she said, “as well as newer GX9.6 machines. The approach in the vineyards here is very different to France. The vines here are planted and allowed to grow like a jungle. In France, they are so manicured, almost like a garden.

“It was also important for me to talk to some of the newer dealers and develop my knowledge of the network PFG has for Gregoire in Australia.”

The pair was on the road each day, including weekends, for upwards of six hours. Often, in between towns or regional centres, they pulled off a highway and cooked roadside, before setting off to the next dealer stop or vineyard.

From Australia, a week’s worth of further hands on work awaited Emilie in New Zealand before she returned home to be with her family. There, in the town of Cognac, the distance she must travel for work is somewhat less taxing; she lives only 500 metres from Gregoire’s headquarters.

Merci, Emilie, et bon voyage.

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