A jewel of the Charlevoix region, the Dufour family has produced fine cheese of exceptional quality since 1994. A few years ago, the family chose to diversify and plant vines. In a cold and harsh climate. The wine these vines produce, the Charlevoyou (a white, rosé and red) stands out for its delicacy. With the grape pomace, the Dufours make grappa at home. This family does not do things like everyone else.
“Huh?” That was my reaction last year when Alexandre Dufour told me that the family business would soon be making vodka with ... whey. Always very impressed by people who innovate, I called him recently to find out more about what is unfolding on the premises.
"It's simple," Alexandre tells me. “To produce 10kg of cheese, we need 100 litres of milk and we produce 90 litres of whey. We wanted to find an innovative solution to reuse the latter.” Led by Madeleine Dufour, they decided to create a vodka (they gave it the tongue in cheek name “volka”) and a summer gin, made from whey. Simply put, the processing of the product involves distilling the whey (or lactoserum) to make alcohol - which is then transformed into vodka or gin.
"It's not called a spirit for nothing," adds Alexandre. “We really bring out the spirit of the milk, in addition to reducing waste and giving new life to our raw ingredients. “
Charlevoix, cradle of innovation and sustainable development?
Are there other companies in the region as innovative and also as committed to sustainable development as Charlevoix’s Famille Migneron? According to Alexandre Dufour, yes, but there could (and should) be many more so that Charlevoix truly becomes a reference for innovation in agriculture, processing and the reuse of products.
“Still, we have several companies that stand out in the region," says Alexandre. “For example, Viandes biologiques de Charlevoix, who are responsible for practically every single stage of breeding and processing of the meat they produce. Now, we need to get the consumer to appreciate this level of quality (and the costs that go with it). I think it can be done. “
One thing is certain, Charlevoix isn’t lacking the potential and the quality to make it an example of agri-food innovation.
“Volka” Charlevoyou will be available soon at Famille Migneron and the SAQ. For the moment the grappa and summer gin are only available on site in Baie-Saint-Paul in limited quantities. To get there, follow this link. Take the opportunity to get your cheese fix and see the ewes and lambs - and book your table at Les Faux Bergers restaurant!