Expertise, experience and passion.
Originally from Lyon, France’s capital of “Gastronomie”, Jean-Christophe comes from a family who has been involved in the wine business ever since Antoine Vauron (his great-great grand-father) became a “Negociant en Vins” (Wine merchants) in 1879.
After completing a Food and Wine Diploma near Dijon, Jean-Christophe spent several years as the “Sommelier” (Head Wine Waiter) for a number of two and three star Michelin restaurants throughout Europe.
Before arriving in New Zealand in 1991, Jean-Christophe spent a year in America and then three years in England working with small and exclusive Wine Merchants.
After eight years with a local wine retailer in their Fine Wine department, he knew his heart lay with the small Domaines of France and set up, with business partners Scott Gray and Peter Ropati, a new venture called MAISON VAURON. Based in a back street of Newmarket (5 McColl Street), Maison Vauron imports and distributes, direct from France, exciting, high quality wines from more than 250 wine producers.
At the same location, you will discover, L’Atelier du Fromage – a wonderful Epicerie Fine with a wide range of products from France including the largest range of French soft and hard cheeses in New Zealand.
Jean-Christophe has a mad passion for eating and drinking, especially for products made and prepared with “le coeur” and “ame” (the heart and soul).
Married in 1995 to a Kiwi girl from Hawkes Bay (at the time Di’s parents owned a vineyard in Havelock North. They grew grapes for Te Mata Estate from 1984 to 2016). They have two girls, Charlotte and Emilie (20 and 18 years old).
In May 2010, Jean-Christophe was awarded “Le Mérite Agricole” (an order of merit established in France on 7th July 1883 by the Ministry of Agriculture) by the French government for his work to promote French culture and product in New Zealand.
Originally from Normandy, Franck got interest from an early age in the influence that Vikings had on his region during the 9th century. He dreamed of visiting Iceland and to do this he decided to get into tourism by specialising in Scandinavian destinations. For eleven years he organised bespoke trips from Greenland to Lapland.
During this period, he became the manager of a small tour operator which focuses on the Sahara where he made regular trips between Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Libya... And finally in 2004 he took on the position of General Manager at an adventure tour operator in Paris where he focused on central Asia with trips to Mongolia and Uzbekistan.
In 2003, he and his wife Adeline decided to organise their honeymoon in New Zealand and they fell in love with the country. Five years and two children later, Adeline and Franck left France to go to New Zealand and start up their inbound tour operator, Once Upon a Trip, dedicated to bespoke itineraries and small hiking groups.
Franck has always been opposed to mass tourism, preferring to promote authentic and respectful encounters with the locals. This naturally gave him the idea of partnering up with his friend Jean Christophe to create Epicurean Journeys.
He is married to Adeline who is also directing Once Upon a Trip. They have 3 children: Pauline and Gaspard born respectively in 2004 and 2007 in Paris and Louise born in Auckland, in 2012.
As of 2016, all of the members of this French-born family are proud kiwi citizens.