“Details make perfection, and perfection is not a detail.”
Leonardo da Vinci

The beauty of timeless artisanship is found all around us—not just in studios and galleries and the marketplace but in our homes and kitchens and toolboxes and offices and classrooms, in the streets and all over our cities. Even our rural and urban landscapes are a display of the interaction between human artistry and nature.

I think this same kind of synergy and vision is found within the pristine rows of vines at the Peter Michael Winery and the craftsmanship practiced there, as well as in the exquisite gastronomy created every day at the Vineyard Hotel, our Relais & Châteaux, in England.

I had the good fortune to grow up in a family that appreciated wine. Dad would send me down to the cellar to fetch a specific bottle of, say, Burgundy or Bordeaux. Gradually, as my teenage years ticked by, I began to appreciate those wines for the wonders of alchemy they were. Dad’s instructions to me for each cellar mission included the specific vintage to select, and that’s when I started to learn about the importance of the combined magic of wine, time, and when and how that wine should be served.

Winemaker Robert Fiore, holding a glass of wine up to the natural light, reviews color and clarity.

I am also the son of an engineer and entrepreneur. Straight science plus unbounded creativity were the ingredients for business creation that formed the daily conversation around me. A strong appreciation of this mix had been instilled in me by the time Peter Michael Winery produced its first vintage in 1987.

My father often reflects on his immense and immersive love of sculpture and of supporting sculptors. He finds great interest in the dimensional expression of their art, and the handcraftsmanship visibly at work that makes each piece unique. We find a parallel in the crafting of our wines, from the handwork in the vineyard block to that in the cellar, culminating in the truly singular definition of each vintage. The attention to detail is expressed in the experience of our final wines, as with the artisans we are inspired by and deeply appreciate; and we, like other artists, are committed to upholding this standard over time.

Though famously so, time is, I think, an even more vital ingredient in winemaking than many people understand. The vineyard site is selected for its ancient geology. The vines are planted. The seasons go by. The first vintage is produced and bottled. The bottle is a time capsule. Five, ten, twenty years go by, until the right moment arrives to pull the cork and drink in the results. The wine’s final act unlocks the joy of the past and unites it with that of the present.

A high proportion of its components and tools are designed and made in-house by trained specialists and craftsmen, with manual assembly of each movement by a single watchmaker and refined finishes performed entirely by hand, right down to the finest hidden details.

That kind of joy can surprise you when you least expect it. For me, a stunning example came when I was an impressionable student. It was in 1989, at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland. My father had just sent me my first bottle of wine from Peter Michael Winery. At around the same time, two hundred students, including me, were summoned to the lecture hall to learn about Blancpain.

Blancpain? As hotel-school students, we expected “white bread” and overhead projector slides (remember them?). Instead, sitting in front of us was a gentleman, not much older than we were, holding a watch. From afar, I could see that it was a handsome traditional style of watch. The gentleman proceeded to hold our attention with an inspired and charismatic talk about why the watch was so special. Certainly, the watch came with a complex and precise movement—after all, it was made in Switzerland. But it was the story of the artistry that really dazzled us—the traditional handmade crafting of the entire watch, the limited production, and the history. Blancpain is the oldest watchmaker in the world. We were invited to come forward and take a closer look. This wasn’t just a watch: it was the most elegant timepiece I had ever seen.

The next time I saw a Blancpain was only recently, when I attended the annual Relais & Châteaux hotel congress. The company has partnered with Relais & Châteaux, recognizing and reflecting their shared values. That is when I recognized, in this famed watchmaking house, a kindred company to the Peter Michael Winery. Blancpain has held steadfast to the artistry and values we so admire, and which were instilled in me by my father as I was growing up. Founded by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain in 1735 and handed down to his descendants for almost two hundred years, Blancpain still upholds its founding principles of exemplary fine art, meticulously crafting each watch by hand.

Our hope is that traditional artisans and producers continue to be esteemed for their commitment to a long-term vision of artistry defined by quality and attention to detail. In watchmaking as in winemaking, true craftsmanship is beauty in itself and should be admired through the trials of time.

The encounter between the world of haute horlogerie and haute cuisine is evident in the handcraftsmanship and attention to detail, both pillars of the quest for excellence, expertise, and true passion.

Art of Living

The Same Pursuit of Excellence

The links between Blancpain, the art of living, and fine dining spring from the deeply held conviction that there is a close bond between these worlds and traditional watchmaking. Each of these spheres is indeed based on essential common values, including the pursuit of excellence, passionate enthusiasm, expertise, the sureness of touch, and the meticulous craftwork.

Blancpain

Finishing and decorating techniques draw on a tradition of craftsmanship and ancestral know-how for the Métiers d’art Porcelain Formosa Clouded Leopard watch. Artisans use stones, files, burnishers, buffs, and abrasive papers to achieve fine finishes, even on components hidden from view.