Raised in the wine country around Avignon near the Mediterranean coast, Carsol left his family's longstanding 150-hectare vineyard two decades ago on a journey to find a place where he might create new flavors of wine.

Carsol, who was 25 years old when he began his quest, traveled through many Asian countries, including China, Japan and Cambodia, but the climate and geography were always unsuitable for cultivating his grapes of choice.

He then tried Vietnam in early 2004, but still fortune seemed to elude him.

Carsol began cultivating his grapevines on a small plot in Dong Nai Province in the south in collaboration with a Vietnamese company, but when they fell out he had to give it up and try somewhere else. That was when his luck finally changed for the better.

He found that in Lam Dong Province in the Central Highlands, the land and climate seemed right for what he had in mind.

True, the soil was slightly acidic, but the Frenchman took only a few months to work out an effective way of neutralizing the acidity and making the ground suitable for grapes.

As it turned out, the relatively cool climate and the distinctive soil would give the grapes a unique taste.

Together with the Dalat Beverage Company (Dalat Beco), Carsol formed the Dalat Grapes Joint Venture Company to cultivate the four French grape varieties on 15 hectares of Ta Nung Commune, 23 kilometers from the town of Da Lat, early in 2007.

From that moment on he was flat out training workers and supervising the nascent vineyard, where 30,000 grapevines were planted in just one year.

The first crop will be harvested next month, says Carsol, who thinks it's simply marvelous as it takes three years for the same vines to bear fruit back in Avignon.

He estimates the vineyard will yield 25 tons of grapes per hectare after five years, enough to produce 200,000 liters of wine per year.

Still, that's a drop in the ocean when you consider that the Vietnamese buy more than 10 millions liters of wine a year, at least according to the Frenchman.

Carsol's next ambition is to blend the four grape varieties he is cultivating to make a special Ta Nung wine that could put Da Lat on the global wine map.

His advice for Vietnamese winegrowers is to become more systematic about planting vineyards and more strategic in their thinking if they want to expand their markets.

Carsol's personal life since arriving in Vietnam has been as tough as the early stages of his long journey.

The first place he went to when he came to these shores in 2000 was Binh Thuan on the lower central coast, where he met and married a Vietnamese woman.

His mother had already died the previous year while Carsol was roaming the world looking for a suitable place to plant his grapevines. He had been unable to return home at the time.

When his father fell ill last year, Carsol told himself to go back to France but his father urged him to carry on, saying it's perfectly normal for the elderly to get sick and perish.

He told Carsol to keep moving forward and conquer the grapevines of new territories, as he put it. Nothing would give the 97-year-old man greater pleasure than to know his son was succeeding in his quest.

Thanh Nien News - June 1st, 2009