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Louise Hurren: Shaping the Languedoc
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From The Inside Out

Louise Hurren is the mastermind behind the Languedoc Outsiders.

Hers is just one of the compelling and wonderful stories that exemplify this “Outsider’ spirit.

Louise Hurren - Languedoc Outsiders Founder

Louise Hurren – Languedoc Outsiders Founder

Louise, you were born and bred in England and had a very successful, professional career in London. What brought about your move to France and what made you choose the Languedoc?

Moving to France was a life-stage thing born out of a desire for new challenges, a change of scene, a different job, a more satisfying lifestyle. My degree in French and three years previously spent working in Paris meant I wasn’t daunted by the idea of being based in France; Montpellier (Languedoc’s capital city) was a natural choice because of its (comparatively) young, international and dynamic profile.

You moved to the Languedoc in 2002. Do you still feel like an Outsider?

I feel more like a shapeshifter, to be honest. I like to think I can blend in quite successfully in many environments and countries. Being able to speak French fluently has been an enormous advantage for me, but the fact that I’m a native English speaker with a non-French background is what’s attractive to my winegrower clients.

Have you always been a wine lover? What made you decide to propel yourself into the WSET program and take your passion for wines to the next level?

I worked in advertising, PR and marketing communications for a long time, promoting brands, products and services, but none of them were directly related to wine. Moving to Languedoc opened my eyes to the wine sector and prompted me to take WSET and Sud de France training courses so I could work within this field. It’s been fulfilling, both professionally and personally.

What do you feel distinguishes the wines of the Languedoc from other regions? How do you think the wines and the region have evolved in the last ten years?

Languedoc has the advantage of not being hide-bound by tradition: compared to better-known French wine regions, it’s seen as the underdog and thus an ideal place for those who want to do their own thing, vinously-speaking, which is what brings the more adventurous wine growers here.

There’s a diversity of soil, climate, geology, geography and grape varieties in Languedoc that encourages creativity, too. The last decade has seen the region forge ahead: in marketing terms, there has been a huge push to raise awareness and visibility, and many of the wine making newcomers who started in the early 2000s have now established themselves firmly on the map: the Outsiders group brings together quite a few of these.

The Outsiders have taken their ‘show on the road’ in recent years. How have those tastings gone and the wines received?

I created the group in summer 2010 in order to create tastings for the wine trade and media, with a view to driving sales and promotion for the group’s members. We’ve presented wines in Montpellier, Paris, London, Warsaw and most recently, Edinburgh, and so far, all our events have been well-attended: individual members of the group have made new sales contacts and the group has got some good media coverage, which is really encouraging. I think what helps is that the group is hand-picked: membership is by invitation only, which means I can put together a portfolio of wines that are genuinely attractive and complementary, created by individuals who have real merit and a like-minded attitude. Our next stop will be in London (May 11, 2015) at the Maison de la Région Languedoc-Roussillon

Languedoc Outsiders logo

Languedoc Outsiders logo

 

Do you see the ‘Outsiders’ group growing in number?

We’ve always had a dozen members, which is handy as I like to the think of the Outsiders as the Languedoc apostles. Twelve is just about the right size to keep things focused and manageable, so no, I don’t plan to grow the numbers, although sometimes if a tasting venue is large enough, we invite selected guest-growers to join us, so we can enhance our wine offering for a specific event.

You also have another page on Facebook ‘Languedoc e. Greeters’ which always has wonderful tips for visitors to the area. How did that come about?

The Languedoc e-greeters page is an initiative created by the Hérault tourist board (Hérault is one of the five departments that make up the Languedoc-Roussillon region). They contacted me and asked me to be their community manager, which is great fun as I’m a bit of a “maven” type who likes discovering new things and sharing the info, and encouraging others to do likewise.

What is the most wonderful thing about living in the Languedoc?

The freedom to organize my life more or less how I like: I’m a freelancer and that’s very empowering. I have the liberty to work in a sector I love, with wines and producers I personally appreciate. That’s a pretty good base to start from…

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About The Author
Hilarie Larson
After settling in Southern California, Wine Educator and Sommelier Hilarie Larson and her husband, Winemaker Craig Larson, decided to create their own venture, Northwinds Wine Consulting, in order to share their devotion for all things wine. The Larsons bring a deep appreciation for the love and labor that goes into every bottle and are thrilled to express that passion through wine education and winery consulting.

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