Oeneo: The science of fine wine

The group, run by the Hériard-Dubreuil family, posted turnover of €326 million for 2021-'22, an increase of 22% in the space of three years. This specialist in wine cultivation and preservation has made innovation the cornerstone of its business strategy.

Posted mardi, mars 7 2023
Oeneo: The science of fine wine

In 2003, Diam Bouchage, a manufacturer of cork stoppers, invested in a revolutionary procedure, a technology which purifies the cork used in wine bottles by extracting 150 molecules, in order to eliminate any risk of cork taint. 

Developed in partnership with CEA, this innovation – which helps wine producers preserve the aromatic qualities of their precious nectar – has become a great success over the past two decades. 

The company, which belongs to the Oeneo Group, sells an incredible 2.7 billion wine corks across the world each year. Science has been complementing artisanal knowhow in recent decades, and its application is not limited to the problem of corked wine, according to Nicolas Hériard-Dubreuil, Oeneo’s president, “Today, Daim’s value proposition is much wider. We provide a complete range of traditional and technical cork closures that ensure wines and spirits are perfectly preserved, allowing winemakers to realize the aging potential of their products.”

Cask and you shall receive
These types of technological patents have contributed to the success of the group, whose turnover hit €326 million in 2022 compared to 2019’s €268 million. Oeneo owes its success to two main areas of activity: corking and cultivation.

Through its various subsidiaries, such as Vivelys, the group advises winemakers on the various factors that go into making premium plonk, such as the potential of a specific type of vine in a particular plot of land, deciding on the best date to begin harvesting the grapes, and an analysis of the oak barrels to be used in accordance with the type of wine desired.        

70% of Oeneo’s turnover is attributed to exports, to some 75 countries, with the Oeneo group present in 20 of them

"We are not trying to replace the knowledge of the traditional winemaker, but rather, offer them the necessary tools to create an excellent wine,” stresses Nicolas Hériard-Dubreuil. We position ourselves on high value-added products – for which we have a talented team – and which necessitates an investment on the part of the client.”

This desire to work with top-of-the-line products looks to have been a good bet, especially as it pertains to the Oeneo’s future growth prospects.  “The world of wine continues to become more select. In twenty years, global consumption levels have stayed more or less the same, but sales of high-quality wine have increased by 80%,” underlined the group’s president.

To grab a slice of this lucrative market, wine producers need to constantly innovate and stay competitive which, for the past dozen years, has meant looking to science and technology to master manufacturing processes.

A fragmented international market
70% of Oeneo’s turnover is attributed to exports, to some 75 countries, with the Oeneo group present in 20 of them. “The wine world is international by nature. When you work as a supplier to this industry, exporting is a prerequisite.” With bases across Europe, and in China and the US ─ where it opened a facility in the Napa Valley in 1994 ─ Oeneo has designs on expanding to the world’s no.5 and no.8 wine producing nations, Australia and South Africa respectively.  

While the great-grandfather and the grandfather of current boss Nicolas Hériard-Dubreuil created Oeneo, notably via the purchase of cooperages Seguin and Moreau, the modern generation favors organic growth. And given the fragmented nature of the wine market, it’s unsurprising to see Oeneo work with prestigious Chateaux and independent producers alike.  

And although it prides itself on being a family run outfit, the Hériard-Dubreuils have not closed the door entirely on external growth operations to expand into aspects of winemaking where it is not yet present, or to get a foothold in certain countries. Although, as with the decision to open one of the finest bottles in your cellar, the moment will have to be just right.