During our 2020 General Assembly, Michel ROSSI, F.I.C.B. Vice-President for Switzerland announced his retirement from this position. The Diploma of Honor of our federation was awarded to him for his involvement in our organization and his remarkable conduct of the Noble Brotherhood of Oliphants of Bas-Lac in the Pays de Neuchâtel.
This gives us the opportunity to turn the spotlight on him and this brotherhood founded in December 1964 by eleven promotors of the Neuchâtel vineyard. The oliphant was a small ivory hunting horn used by the knights and often assimilated to a horn of plenty.
The main goals of this Brotherhood are to make the quality of Neuchâtel’s local wines known and appreciated, the pleasures of the products of its hunting and fishing, as well as the pleasures of its gastronomy.
One of the founders, Marcel Verdon (1964 – 1972) was the first governor. He dynamically guided its destiny for 8 years, creating during this period two Prévôtés, one in the Neuchâtel Mountains, and the other in the future canton of Jura. When he left, the number of members was already 180, and as a token of his gratitude, Marcel Verdon was elevated to the title of Honorary Governor.
He was succeeded by Henri-Alexandre Godet (1972 – 1975), winegrower in Auvernier and “father of the unfiltered” who took over the reins and worked at the head of the Brotherhood for three years. A man who was at the same time voluntary, full of heart and friendship, when he left, the Chapter appointed him Governor Emeritus.
In 1975, it was Rémy Thévenaz (1975 – 1983), from Marin, who brought back the supreme title to the east of the vineyard. He will lead the Brotherhood with a masterly hand for eight years before being rewarded by the granting of the honorary title.
From then on and for no less than twenty years, it was Louis-Philippe Thiébaud (1983 – 2003), from Bôle, who was the Governor. He further developed the Brotherhood, which now counts about 300 Brothers and Companions, by assuming his task with tact and competence, helped by the faithful members of his Chapter. At the time of the transfer of his office, in recognition of his outstanding qualities, he received the well-deserved title of Honorary Governor and acceded to the supreme office of Grand Master of the Great Council.
Since 2003, Michel ROSSI DE PESEUX has presided over and led the Brotherhood along the lines laid out by his predecessors. Around him, the Chapter, strong of about ten Confreres, meets regularly to continue the work of the founders and to try to motivate and bring interest to the Confreres and Companions in the framework of the various meetings.
Michel ROSSI has been active at the international level and was elected Vice-President for Switzerland of the F.I.C.B. about ten years ago. His career has earned him numerous inductions into other wine brotherhoods in Switzerland, France and Italy. His successor as Vice-President for Switzerland of the F.I.C.B. has just been co-opted by our Board of Administration: Jacques JEANNERAT, Grand Master of the Académie du Cep (wines of the Canton of Geneva).
In addition, we learned with great sadness the death, last 7 November, of the Vice-governor of this brotherhood, Claude RUFINI, who also held the position of permanent secretary of the Swiss Federation of Wine and Gastronomic Brotherhoods and, for about ten years, that of general secretary of the F.I.C.B. We had the opportunity to pay tribute to him (Newsletter n°12) and to underline his eminent contribution to the world of the wine brotherhoods.
The Noble Brotherhood of Oliphants : https://olifants.ch/
Wines of the Canton of Neuchâtel : https://www.ne.ch/autorites/DDTE/SAGR/encavage-etat/Pages/Nos-vins.aspx