Georges Duboeuf, the influential winemaker behind the Beaujolais Nouveau movement, passed away from a stroke on Saturday at the age of 86.
Duboeuf first launched Nouveau commercially in Europe in 1974. Made from gamay grapes in the French Beaujolais region, Nouveau is bottled six-to-eight weeks after harvest. This young wine is known for being fresh, fruity and low in tannins. By law, Beaujolais Nouveau cannot roll out for purchase until 12:01 a.m. on the third Thursday of November, which Duboeuf helped turn into a global day of celebration.
In 1983, Duboeuf brought Beaujolais Nouveau Day into the U.S for the first time. With savvy marketing and a love for wine, Duboeuf continued to grow this tradition into the worldwide phenomenon that it is today.
“France and the wine industry lost one of their most passionate advocates with the passing of Georges Duboeuf,” says his son Franck Duboeuf, and the Duboeuf family, in a press release. “The Duboeuf family mourns this loss, but is greatly comforted by the outpouring of sympathy and condolences from colleagues and fans of wine all over the world. During his 86 years with us, he brought much personal joy and inspiration to our lives as well as to those he touched throughout his career. We loved him and will continue to honor his legacy personally, and through the wines he nurtured and loved, for many years to come.”
Born in 1933 in the small town of Chaintré, Duboeuf first began selling wines at age 18, riding his bike to area restaurants. As a merchant he was known for a discerning palate, and bottling wines himself, which helped him raise winemaking standards across the region as he worked with the many vineyards.
His company, Les Vins Georges Duboeuf, now works with more than 300 vineyards in producing 2.5 million bottles annually.
Duboeuf retired in 2016, and was succeeded by his son Franck. Duboeuf’s grandson and Franck’s son, Aurelian, recently produced his first wine for the family company.
A religious funeral is scheduled at the church of Romanèche-Thorins, France, on Thurs., Jan. 9, at 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers or other material tributes to honor, Duboeuf’s family suggests donations in his name to La Fondation Alzheimer, or the association, “Docteur Clown,” a charity that “brings cheer” to children in local Lyon hospitals via clowns.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the name of Franck Duboeuf’s son.