It all started in a small town outside Montreal, where Robert and Mireille, as neighbors, became good friends, dated for five years, and got married in 1971. Two weeks after our wedding, we left for the United States with a small car, $600 and our green card. For 22 days, we drove across the country, visiting many states. We settled in Los Angeles, then bought a house in Burbank, which was our home for three years. Robert and I both worked for a printing company in Pasadena.
Robert was fascinated with the discovery of gold, so one summer we vacationed in Coloma where they discovered the gold. We liked it so much; we rented a cabin on the American River the following summer and did some gold panning for two weeks. We loved the country and, having a two year old daughter, we thought it would be better for her to grow up in El Dorado County.
With Robert’s parents and brother, we each bought a small property above Coloma and a small printing company in Placerville. We were partners in that business for 16 years.
Having been involved in the printing industry for 25 years, Robert wanted to do something else with his life. He always loved being outside and being able to grow plants. We sold Placerville Press, and he took a few years to rest and decide what he wanted to do. We went to Napa every year with friends, and we always thought it would be nice to have a property planted with grapevines. When our daughter Susie got married, we decided it was time to move. We loved Fair Play because of its peaceful country sites and being in the middle of grapevines. Robert and I decided that was going to be our next venture, buying a property and farming grapevines to sell to wineries.
In 1996, we bought a beautiful 20 acre property on top of the hill; we cleaned the property and planted Mourvedre, Viognier and Syrah. We thought we were going to grow and sell grapes. Little did we know our life was about to change. We met several good friends in this little town of Fair Play, and were getting a lot of encouragement and help from family and friends. The Gilpin family was the most instrumental in getting us started; they did more than we ever expected by crushing and storing our wines. We are very thankful to the whole family. Finally, we decided a tasting room was going to be our next thing.
We bought another property on Perry Creek Road to start our small winery and tasting room. We planted another 5 acres of different varietals. Here we are today, eleven years later, Fleur de Lys Winery is one of many wineries in Fair Play. It was a lot of hard work, more than we ever expected, and I’m sure there are still many surprises ahead, but we’ll make it.
The tasting room is located in the barrel room; we just remodeled last month. The best part of this business is working in the tasting room where we have met so many wonderful people in the past eleven years.
Please feel free to stop by when you are in Fair Play, join us for good company, wine and pairings.
Merci, à la prochaine.
Robert and Mireille LaJoie