Dirk Vermeersch, from “Gran Turismo” to “Grand Terroir”

Headlines

2000 Dirk buys the ruins of Domaine LePlan (0.3 ha) in Tulette, and become winemaker
2001 Name change in LePlan-Vermeersch
2003 Two Stars in “Guide Hachette de Vin” for GT Syrah
2005 Ann & Seb join Dirk as winemaker technicians
2010 New winery of 2400 m² build in Suze la Rousse
2020 Produce & bottle 500.000 btls (Familly vineyards & Partners)

Before there was rally & car racing with left-foot braking, mastering four-, rear- and front-wheel drive, finding the fastest way around the speedways, stress, competition, training, tires testing, and car testing…
Now there is the Southern Rhone winery, grape varieties, soil, terroir, oak barrels, steel fermentation tanks, wine blending, wine bottling and wine tasting …
But always, always there is… the same passion, balance, calculated risks, sense for detail, fast decisions, methodical approach, patience, precision and… team spirit.
How did a rally & racing car driver turn into a winemaker? Dirk, a Flemish Belgian, is a man of many experiences.
Without any diploma, without any prospect of a decent job, but incredibly enthusiastic as ever, Dirk Vermeersch dreams, as a young taxi driver, chiefly about making a career in car sport racing. Barely two years after starting in local races, he wins the 24 Hours of Zolder and, that same year 1977, he is the reserve driver of the victorious BMW in the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. As of that moment, he becomes a professional racing car driver.
After a long and successful career in car sport a serious rally accident in 1986 put an end on his racing activities. Dirk is down and out. He takes a step back and embarks on the operation of a petrol station, where he deals simultaneously in used cars. Three years later, his secret wishes to become the dealer of a top-ranking make of cars comes true. Dirk becomes an official Lancia and Maserati dealer, in Schilde, near Antwerp.
In 1999, he manages to sell the dealership at a handsome price. Retirement is beckoning, but Dirk is unable to sit idle. Firstly, he gets hold of a ruin in the South of France, and then he starts a construction firm to renovate the wreck, turning it into one of the most beautiful and largest buildings in the region. A third dream comes true: Dirk and his family are running a B&B in Provence.

But – perhaps to be predicted? – soon Dirk started to get bored in the countryside buzzing with grasshoppers, cicadas and bees, the scent of blooming lavender,… and started to dream his ultimate dream (4th): making his own wine from the 1.7 hectares of very old Carignan vines (planted in 1961) around the Mas. As a completely self-taught winemaker, he created from scratch the LePlan-Vermeersch Winery with an entirely new style of wines, labels and marketing. His first LePlan GT-S 2003 is awarded 2 stars in the Hachette Guide des Vins and Robert Parker, the famous American Wine Advocate, give his LePlan GT-1 Chateauneuf-du-Pape 95/100 points. The rest is history…

Meanwhile his daughter Ann went to the local oenology school in the Châteauneuf du Pape region to learn her trade. Here she met her future husband. Sebastian Barbara is a former rugby player, biker and
rock musician. In 2005 they both joined the LePlan Vermeersch Winery. In 2010 the Vermeersch family decided to sell the old Mas and B&B and built a brand new, ultra
modern, 2400m² winery in Suze la Rousse, which is situated in the middle of the GT “Grand Terroir” vineyards at Suze la Rousse (village of the Université du Vin). In order to ensure the international demand, they make various partner agreements with local winegrowers.

Now there is the Southern Rhone winery, grape varieties, soil, terroir, oak barrels, steel fermentation tanks, wine blending, wine bottling and wine tasting …

But always, always there is… the same passion, balance, calculated risks, sense for detail, fast decisions, methodical approach, patience, precision and… team spirit.