Alexandre Dufour, the proud Charlevoyou

Alexandre Dufour, le fier Charlevoyou

The proud Charlevoyou

Believe it, don't believe it, the history of the Dufours began 350 million years ago. In this era of Pisces, a meteorite two kilometers in diameter and weighing 15 billion tons melted in the Charlevoix region at a speed of 36,000 km/h. The mountains literally exploded in the hinterland, leaving a 56 km crater which, slowly but surely, will set the table for Maurice and Francine. 25 years ago, as a true pioneer, the couple concocted their range of Migneron fine cheeses on typically Charlevoix plots: too small to support large herds, but rich enough to give free rein to creativity and raise Alexandre and Madeleine, their precious successor.

On the phone, Alexandre Dufour tells us about their refining house which employs 25 people. From the outset, he addresses the notion of the valorization of raw materials that his father passed on to them. A principle that goes hand in hand with that of diversification that they have always wanted to push further.

In partnership with a producer from Abitibi who came to settle in the area with his dairy sheep, nearly 150 curly heads joined forces with cows from the region to provide local milk which yields a little less than a hundred tonnes of these aged cheeses destined for mass distribution throughout Quebec and… even at Costco!

In 2009, in this corner of the country where there are just 900 growing degree days, the diversification and valorization of their plots of land took the form of a vineyard. After all, is there a product that pairs better with cheese? The easy way is clearly not in the family DNA, the vine will be organic or it will not be. Mainly 100% local muscat, the bouquet of which is now distributed in the form of 10 to 15,000 bottles of white or rosé per year!

Respect for the environment and the revaluation of whey being non-negotiable, in 2016, Alexandre and his sister Madeleine laid the foundations of their distillery by recovering this residue from cheese production. Thanks to their alchemist talents, they transmuted it into Charlevoyou . This whey brandy is their very own “vodka”. And they proudly claim authorship.

“We are the first in the country to recycle whey in this way. There was no pre-established recipe. We set up the project from A to Z and Laval University helped us develop the process. Over the coming years, our main focus will be solid marketing of our spirits. Already this year, we should be able to sell nearly 1,000 bottles on the SAQ shelves. And it will continue to increase. »

With a baccalaureate in administration, Alexandre takes care, among other things, of the development aspect of the company, while Madeleine watches over the distillery and the shop which still represents 30% of their income. By fine-tuning every detail of operations and making the most of your precious liquids profitable down to the last drop, there is room to create other little miracles.

The 31-year-old enthusiast says he still has a few cards up his sleeve. Already, a whey gin made from an alloy of Nordic plants and water from their mountains has recently seen the light of day. And thanks to the fields which are still not exploited, Alexandre is refining his dream of planting apple trees and growing rye to develop alcoholic ranges. Intoxicating projects, if there ever was one!

Photo credits: It's a beautiful studio

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