Organization Behaviour Case Study

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Date Submitted: 02/24/2015 12:28 PM

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Case Study

The owner of the prestigious Château de Vallois must decide whether to launch an affordable wine. by Daniela Beyersdorfer and Vincent Dessain

The Experts

Corinne Mentzelopoulos is the owner and CEO of Château Margaux, a firstgrowth wine estate in the Bordeaux region of France.

Preserve The Luxury Or Extend The Brand?


aspard de Sauveterre shivered as he stepped out of a side entrance to his château. While the late September days were still warm, he could feel autumn approaching. The 75-year-old owner of Château de Vallois, a famous wine-producing estate in the Bordeaux region of France, felt a familiar thrill. This was the season he and his team had worked toward the whole year; any day now the bell for the harvest, the famous vendanges, would ring. He quickened his pace down the long, well-kept alley through the wrought-iron gates to start his ritual morning walk through the vineyards. He loved these hours when the rising sun bathed the misty landscape in shades of yellow and gray. The quiet, cool air cut through the thoughts that had been swirling in his head since his granddaughter burst into his study yesterday with an audacious proposal. Claire de Valhubert had grown up on the estate but had moved to Paris following the sudden death of her mother, Gaspard’s daughter, seven years ago. After graduating from one of France’s elite grandes écoles she had worked for a top consulting firm before earning an MBA at Insead. Gaspard had expected her to come for the harvest, of course—she never missed it—but he had been surprised to hear about her plans to join the family business and radically change the centuries-old enterprise. Claire had explained her idea as simply as possible. In her opinion, younger wine enthusiasts were being priced out of highend French wines. And although she knew that de Vallois had been steadily profitable since the 1980s, she worried about what might happen if the estate allowed less-expensive,...