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Vignoble Château de Cartes

Interviews

Vignoble Château de Cartes: A terroir made for bubbly

Along the wine route in Dunham, in the Montérégie region, sits the magnificent building that houses the Château des Cartes winery. It’s where Stéphane Lamarre has spent many years pursuing his passion for vine-growing.

Published on August 23, 2023

When I caught up with Stéphane at his vineyard, he offered to give me a tour of the various parcels of land where he grows his grapes to talk about his background.

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How did your adventure into winemaking first started?

“It was over 30 years ago—I started at a very young age, making homemade wine with my grandfather. And I had a stroke of luck. I owned a production company, and one of my employees, who was from Alsace, shared my love of wine. One day, he said, ‘If you’re interested, I can send you to learn the craft from my family.’ There weren’t any winemaking schools here at the time, so I spent a few seasons with his family in France. That’s where I learned how to make wine, to grow vines. It’s how I developed most of my expertise. White grapes are much easier to cultivate here in Quebec than red grapes. They don’t always ripen fully, even when the weather cooperates, so we’re limited. That’s why I chose to make white wines. I like bubbly. I make white PetNat—naturally sparkling wine—that has citrus and white flower aromas, and mineral and white pepper notes. This year, I’m making three different ones: white, rosé and red. I think they’ll be a big hit. It’s what the terroir yearns for. We make musts that are a bit on the acidic side, and the bubbles give them a certain crispness. Personally, I feel that the local terroir is perfect for making bubbly.”

When did you decide to leave your business for a career in winemaking?

“In 2006, after a breakup, I met the love of my life and we were together for 19 years. Very early in the relationship, we shared our dreams, our ambitions with each other. I told her that I’d like to own a vineyard one day. At the time, I was earning a good living but I didn’t find it fulfilling. And she said, ‘You seem a bit jaded, so let’s go see what’s out there.’ We went for a jaunt and on our way back, we noticed that the land I’m currently cultivating was for sale. So, we stopped in to speak to the woman who owned the property. She told us she’d been trying to make a go of it for two years. We decided right then and there to buy it. That’s how it all started. My then-wife had said, ‘You’re 40 years old. You have the time and the money. If you don’t do it now, I don’t want to hear you talk about it ever again.’ So, I said, ‘OK then, let’s do it!’”

What are you most proud of?

“Strangely, it’s not here on my land, but rather when I go over to a friend’s house or to a restaurant and I see a bottle of my wine on the table. That fills me with pride. I don’t need praises… I don’t need anything. When I see a waiter two tables over serving my Saint-Pépin and I hear him describing it—he doesn’t know I’m there, he’s never laid eyes on me—I feel tremendous satisfaction. Seeing my finished product, watching someone uncork it, seeing them drink it, or hearing them say something mundane like ‘Oh, it’s lively. It’s good.’… That’s my crowning achievement because that’s what it’s all about. Next would be my pride in the wine itself. But really, my amazing daughter, Aurélie, is my true pride and joy.”

« If you have the will and the guts to pour your heart and soul into it, you'll make great wine. »

- Stéphane Lamarre, wine maker

The proof is in every bottle—and all it really takes is one sip to taste 30 years of passion.

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1285 Bruce street
Dunham QC  J0E 1M0
450-295-2020

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