Tell us about your family estate. "My father bought the property [in Languedoc, southern France] in 1968 with my mother, his second wife. It was a forest at the time. My mum wanted to be far from the city, though she knew urbanisation would catch up. Back then, in the evenings, it was completely dark. It was a wide valley with green oaks, lavender, thyme and sage growing wild. The property included a mas, a traditional farmhouse built by farmers, who were self-sufficient with their food, sheep, wine, olives. As their families expanded, they would add another level to the house."
Did your father have any winemaking experience? "Not at all! Around 1945 he finished his studies in one of the best schools in France, but he wanted to be a farmer. His father was not pleased because he wanted his son to follow in his footsteps and be the head of a factory making leather gloves. Eventually, in the 1970s, with my mum, my dad made his dream come true. They both shared a love of wine and sought the advice of Henri Enjalbert, a geologist from the University of Bordeaux, to analyse the soil on the land they had bought. He said the soil was unique and predicted they could make grand cru in 200 years. My parents heard the first part of the sentence, not the second. In 1972, they began planting vines, 17,000 cuttings from traditional ancient cabernet sauvignon [vines] from Bordeaux. Languedoc is not known for growing cabernet sauvignon, which is why we became known as the 'black sheep of Languedoc'. For 200 years, Languedoc was known for producing entry-level wine - this area produces more wine than Australia, but at least it's consistent. We get good weather from the Atlantic Ocean, and the weather doesn't change much compared with that in Bordeaux. By 1978, we had our first vintage and, in the mid-90s, we were compared to top estates, which was shocking for the wine world. It put us on the map."
Describe the harvest season. "Picking grapes is like giving birth. When we are about to start, we'll have nearly 50 more staff from 15 countries. Everyone works very hard, but we also party very hard. We sing a lot. It's a celebration of life. It's very important to welcome people. They aren't just working with us, they are experiencing something for 15 days. After that it's depressing because suddenly the house is empty. It is a rhythm."
Did you study oenology? "I grew up around wine so I felt it would be better to study other things. I have studied in France, Madagascar and Madrid. I worked as a press attaché in Ghana and interned at the Ministry of Defence. I love politics but I'm not good at it. I'm too blunt, too truthful."
What do you think of the China market these days? "In China, nobody knows what is happening, but there are trends. Wine is more of a gift than something people drink. The drinkers I meet in China are 25 to 60 years old, and the young people in particular are very interested. It is considered a social status to know about wine, it makes you look smart and trendy. Sometimes I don't understand their questions because it's so obvious to me but, for them, it's new."
Who else is in the family business? "I have four brothers and we all work at Mas de Daumas. My oldest brother has been the winemaker since 2006. He's been making wine with my father since 1998. Making wine involves leadership and organisation, tasting every day and cleaning 80 per cent of the time. The cellar needs to be clean all the time, because you don't want bacteria tainting the wines."
What do you do when you're not working? "I love surfing. When I was 11 years old in Biarritz, a seaside town south of Bordeaux, I went to my friend's place and he had a surfboard. The first time I tried it I was hooked. You have this magical feeling like you're flying, and you can even see fish in the water. In January 2014, I joined the family company looking after the Asia market. I travel so much in the region that I try to take a break in between. Indonesia is a paradise for surfing, beautiful waves, no sharks. I went to Lombok last November and loved it. It's great because I don't have to drink [wine], and I can spend five hours in the water and clear my mind."