Anne Bousquet (MBA '16) was certain she didn't ever want to join the third-generation Carcassonne, France-based family wine business. Growing up, she pruned vines, harvested grapes and helped with bottling.
"It was so difficult," she said of those early chores. Instead, she crafted a successful economics career, first in the United States, then in Brussels.
But the grape lured her back. While Bousquet and her husband Labid al Ameri – whom she met at Saint Cloud State University while earning a master's degree – were in Europe, her father, Jean Bousquet, was busy establishing an organic vineyard in the remote mountains of Argentina's Mendoza region. In 2005, Jean asked Anne and Labid if they might test the European market for Domaine Bousquet's debut offerings.
"My husband and I went to the biggest European wine fair in Dusseldorf," she said. To tempt buyers, they offered wine in smaller quantities than the usual container load. The tactic worked. Soon, a big Swedish contract presaged greater sales.
In 2008, the couple welcomed a baby daughter – and Domaine Bousquet sold its one millionth bottle. The young family decided it was time to leave cosmopolitan Belgium for tiny Tupugato, near the border between Argentina and Chile.
"It was an adventure. It is a very small, rural mountain town," Bousquet said, noting the slow pace took some getting used to. "We really organized the operation; we grew a lot," putting more land in production and buying equipment. Along with planting only organic grapes – which thrive remarkably well in the arid mountain climate – Domaine Bousquet provides work and upward mobility to local villagers, earning it the Fair for Life certification for fostering fair trade and social accountability. Its wines include sauvignon blanc, merlot and pinot noir. The winery produces upwards of four million bottles a year and is among Argentina's top 12 wine exporters.
After seven years in Argentina, the family relocated to Miami to open their own U.S. import company, Origins Organic. By 2019, U.S. sales reached $7.3 million – double that of 2018.
With Labid overseeing U.S. sales and imports and their daughter in grammar school, Bousquet decided the time was right to pursue her MBA in FIU's Executive MBA program.
One standout from the program: a week in Rio de Janeiro, where students visited a chain of hair salons all run by women. "They started from scratch, as we started from scratch, and rose through hard work, organization and consistency in the quality of products and services," she said, adding that those are the same elements that underlie Domaine Bousquet's success.
Bousquet and her husband eventually bought out most of her father's acreage, and he retired to tend a small specialty vineyard. They now focus on growing the Argentina concern and the importing business, including organic European wines. Pre-pandemic, one of them would travel to Argentina about one week a month. They look forward to resuming their trips. "Now, I miss it," she said.
Looking back, Bousquet realizes her childhood in the vineyard prepared her for the role she has today. "I learned to appreciate growing grapes; it is nature, and working with nature helps you learn patience," she said. "You can't accelerate the maturing of a grape."