THE BONFILS STORY
Bonfils, Winemakers from generation to generation since 1870
With their origins in Brittany, Bonfils have the sea and the terroir in their blood.
In 1870 Joseph Bonfils, a young teacher, contested the governing regime, as did many others, and participated in the breakaway government of the Paris Commune. This brief insurrection was violently repressed and as a result Joseph had to seek exile in Algeria. It was thus far from his homeland that he was to meet his future wife, Honorine Dorvaux, whose family was originally from Alsace.
At Mostaganem, a small town on the Mediterranean coast not far from Oran, the climate is harsh and the soil hard, but the plateau is fertile thanks to the generous irrigation of the river. It was Honorine at that time who established a smallholding by tirelessly planting vines, far from imagining that she was creating the Bonfils heritage. The trade in wine began, and the Bonfils family bought several more properties, working with their three children Gabriel, Abel and Alfred, and later their grandchildren.
This period of prosperity came to an abrupt end with the Algerian Declaration of Independence in 1962. They were forced to abandon the vineyards planted by Honorine, the first woman to have received the Agricultural Order of Merit in 1875. The properties and land were nationalised and the Bonfils family were obliged to return to France, having lost everything.
Abel’s grandson, Jean-Michel Bonfils was born in Algeria, and from a very young age he loved his father’s vines and wine cellar. He followed his parents who settled near to Beziers and embarked on a slow reconstruction by the pure sweat of his brow. He began by acquiring 6 hectares of vines in the Languedoc with the help of a loan to those that had been forced to leave Algeria, and a lot of persuasion. It was the Domaine de Lirou. Very quickly he added a tenancy of 10 hectares and bought up parcels of vines as the opportunity arose. In 1978 he bought Domaine de Cibadiès at Capestang in Herault which is today the headquarters of Vignobles Bonfils.
At the beginning of the nineties his son Laurent, then aged 25 and recently graduated, started to shape the future of Domaine de Cibadies. With the support of his elder brother, Olivier, he decided to add value to the production and began the bottled wine trade. It was then the turn of Jérôme to join the business. Three boys, each one taking responsibility for a domain and a specific role: Jérome the vineyards, Olivier the winemaking and Laurent the sales and management side of Vignobles Bonfils. Complementarity, sharing of responsibilities and the spirit of enterprise…. more than just a family brought closer through adversity, Bonfils are a real team and always make important decisions together. A true family spirit!