Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
When I read a French wine label, I sometimes see the word “fils” next to the winery name, for example, Bouchard Père & Fils. What does the word “fils” indicate on a French wine label?
—Chris, St. Petersburg, Fla.
“Père et fils” means “father and son” in French (in the example you shared, the ampersand is doing the work of the word “et”). As with businesses here in the United States that have “and son” (or daughter) appended to their names, it’s a way of conveying that the company is a family business, which many people find appealing.
You might also see the French words “frères” (brothers) or “soeurs” (sisters) on some wine labels, again suggesting that the business has a familial element. Family businesses can get pretty complicated, of course, especially in France, where Napoleonic inheritance laws have forever changed the vineyard and winery landscape.