I’ve never met with Jean Bellefroid. In fact, until recently, I’d never seen even as much as a picture of the man who is now widely recognised as the godfather of modern Belgian wine. So you can imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a clip of a 1950s TV programme (in Dutch) featuring an animated Bellefroid pruning his vines.
Although I was only a little boy at the time, I remember how on our bicycle rides my father would point to Bellefroid’s vineyard ‘Domein Cohlenberg‘ with a certain trepidation in his voice. Or was that just the reverberation caused by Flemish cobble stones when cycling past?
That sentiment of disbelief about growing grapes and making wine in beer-country is echoed by the reporters too in this video clip. But the short interview also clearly shows what a great everyday pioneer the late Jean (or Jan) Bellefroid really was, paving the way for future generations of Belgian winemakers such as Peter Colemont and Ghislain Houben.