[INTERVIEW] Meeting with Mr Danis, who recalls the origin of the wine cabinet

Published : 01/17/2018 16:44:10
Categories : Currents news

[INTERVIEW] Meeting with Mr Danis, who recalls the origin of the wine cabinet

On 22 September 2016, on the occasion of EuroCave’s fortieth anniversary, we had the opportunity to meet a man who was present when the brand was created and who was one of the pioneers who embarked on the wine cabinet adventure, at the time called a “wine storage appliance”.

In 1957, Mr Michel Danis-Soufflet began his career at the Bendix Company where he continued to climb the ladder, advancing from the quality control department to the engineering and design department.

From 1946 to 1970, Bendix, manufacturer of the first French automatic washing machine, was a flagship of French industry. Its Fourmies factory was the most modern in Europe, the most cutting-edge and leader in its market.

In 1971, the company closed its doors and was then taken over and given the name Manufactures de Fourmies, which later became the EuroCave Company.

Mr Danis then became quality control manager and assistant technical manager and this was when he participated in designing and manufacturing the very first wine cabinet.

"In this role, I had the satisfaction of having participated in the study and development of the first prototype and bringing into production the wine storage cabinet under the "EuroCave" brand which has continued to be successful since it is still manufacturing its products in Fourmies and exporting them to very many countries."
Source: Bendix Electrical Appliances, men… at the heart of machines…


EuroCave : Mr Danis, could you tell us about the very start of the wine cabinet?

Mr Danis:
There was instantly an enthusiasm for this product. We thought it was a really good idea, we believed in it straight away!
I still have, incidentally, a prototype at home.

Initially, our approach involved bringing Bordeaux bottles to room temperature in the upper section, maturing wine in the middle section and chilling champagne and rosé in the lower section. There was a thermostat for each section. It is what is now called a 3-temperature or multi-functional cabinet.

It was the very first model.
Then, we developed cabinets with “uniform temperatures", with the aim of maturing the wine, or having it at serving temperature. The objective was to offer a cabinet for the food service industry.

In 1976, Manufactures de Fourmies registered the EuroCave brand to market the very first wine cabinets.


EC : Technically, were there any obstacles to overcome?

Mr D: With the "foam", we had development problems …
It mainly concerned injection temperature problems.
We carried out density tests and found a solution.
We also had problems with buckling of the cabinet body but I notice that you have since corrected this.


EC : A wine cabinet is first and foremost about observing the criteria for storing wine. How did you determine them?

Mr D: I can recall now the assistant finding out about the storage criteria...
He met wine experts, wine producers, and sommeliers.  
The technical manager was also very interested in the subject.
Technically, we had performed tests. Notably in "warm rooms" (editor’s note: climate-controlled test rooms), as we called them. There were not really any standards at the time… we were the ones who defined them in a way.
For us, it was necessary above all for a wine cabinet to perform like a natural cellar, but better.


EC : How did the wine cabinet market then develop?

Mr D: In the beginning, one of our biggest clients was Conforama. Then, the wine cabinet market quickly developed abroad. As French wines have a very good reputation beyond our borders, wine lovers told themselves that it was necessary to use a French appliance to store them, that it was a guarantee of quality.


EC : In 1980, Manufactures de Fourmies closed…

Mr D: … and that was when two investors, including Mr Martin, acquired the EuroCave brand. But I was no longer with the company then.


EC : What major developments have you noticed from the years you spent at the company and now?

Mr D: The EuroCave range has really grown over the years and the designs have evolved a lot. Lighting has been incorporated inside the cabinets, the shelves have developed with the Main du Sommelier which uniquely support each bottle…

But the most striking thing is the manufacturing. There are a lot of techniques that have practically remained the same; the table for making the cold circuits and the pool to check that they do not leak are, for example, practically identical to the ones we used at the time.

I am delighted to have had the opportunity to return to the factory to see how this wonderful production plant has changed, thank you for welcoming me.

I am very proud of this flagship of industry.
Fourmies used to be the capital of washing machines, now it is the capital of wine storage appliances!

EC: Thank you very much for having given us your time.
We really enjoyed meeting you. Your account is invaluable.

Photos taken during Mr Danis’s visit to the EuroCave factory

Photos taken during Mr Danis’s visit to the EuroCave factory

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