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Pierre discusses how the Wine and Management Diploma
has been instrumental in helping him open an independent wine store 

Pierre Poulain

Born and raised in Brittany, Pierre initially worked in finance before deciding to embark on a new professional adventure that would allow him to combine his passion for wine with his work. Having completed the Wine and Management Diploma in 2021, he is now about to inaugurate his very first wine store, Le Cellier des Lices, which is set to open its doors in the French city of Rennes at the end of May.

What skills did the programme help you acquire?
The Wine and Management Diploma allowed me to strengthen my wine knowledge and expertise through a varied programme that focused on tasting and analysing wine, provided insights into the wine industry, and offered numerous opportunities to meet winemakers, entrepreneurs and other industry professionals.

Which part of the programme was the most memorable?
Without a doubt all the different opportunities to meet industry professionals. If I had to choose just one, it would be meeting winemaker Jeremy Seysses when visiting the Domaine Dujac in Burgundy. At the end of the tasting session, he disappeared off to fetch one last bottle that wasn’t initially on the list: a Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2001. Tasting a wine with such outstanding depth was truly magical.

Had you always dreamed of opening an independent wine store?
Yes, my sights were set on pursuing an entrepreneurial venture from the second I started thinking about working in wine. The decision to open my own wine store was made pretty quickly, as I was keen to respond to a call for projects for a brand-new foodie venue in the city of Rennes. I applied to be part of that exciting new venture prior to starting my training at Le Cordon Bleu Paris.

What different steps have you had to take to set up your wine store?
I responded to the call for projects back in June 2021, but only got the green light in September 2022, so the wait seemed never-ending. It did, however, give me plenty of time to complete my training and get some experience under my belt, first of all working at the Plaza Athénée and then at the Caves Legrand as a sommelier. In parallel, I’ve been working closely with a Rennes-based architect agency to fine-tune the store’s design. Work started in mid-April, and we’re due to open at the end of May. Since January, I’ve spent every waking hour getting ready for the opening, notably focusing on the crucial task of selecting all the wines.

What are you doing to prepare for the opening?
At the moment, I’m still busy selecting the wines. I’m meeting lots of winemakers and agents, and am attending endless wine fairs and industry events.I also dedicate part of each day to getting the store looking just right and monitoring the progress of the build. Alongside that, I’m getting everything in place to ensure the business runs smoothly, which means organising the accounts and regularly liaising with a lawyer for help with the regulatory aspects. I’m also busy working on the whole marketing and communications side of things, creating a website and preparing social media content. Last but not least, I’m in the process of hiring staff. I’ve already met a few potential candidates, but I’m still looking for that one special person who stands out from the crowd.

How did the programme or the internships help with your current project?
The Wine and Management Diploma was perfectly tailored to my project. As well as developing my skills as a sommelier, it also allowed me to lay the foundations for setting up my own business. We were asked to prepare a dissertation focusing on our own entrepreneurial venture, which we then had to present at the end of the year. That meant that I was able to plan and develop my own project as part of the programme. The internships have given me credibility when dealing with winemakers, too. The reputation of both the Plaza Athénée and the Caves Legrand has allowed me to open doors that would have otherwise remained firmly shut.

What 3 words sum up your experience at Le Cordon Bleu Paris?
Expertise, encounters and enjoyment.

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