Toquade Wines (Owner and Winemaker)
Christine Barbe was born and raised in Bordeaux, France, and has extensive experience crafting Sauvignon Blanc – first in her native Bordeaux and now for more than 13 years in Napa Valley. She studied biochemistry and received her doctoral degree in Enology and Viticulture from the Bordeaux Institute of Enology. After receiving her Ph.D. in 1996, Christine relocated to California, where she engaged in winemaking and viticulture research for Robert Mondavi, Gallo, and Trinchero, and applied the winemaking training she had received in France to the grapes of California.
Christine produces wine under her personal label, Toquade, the French word for “craze” or “infatuation,” to reflect her passion for Sauvignon Blanc. She says that “Toquade” also is the story of her winemaking life, which began in 1991 in Bordeaux. A doctoral student at the time, she was also making wine at Château Carbonnieux and La Louvière in Pessac-Léognan. For the next five years, she worked with various Sauvignon Blanc experts in Bordeaux, among whom was the renowned Denis Dubourdieu, and learned first-hand how to taste Sauvignon Blanc grapes as they ripen and how to harvest them to maximize the aroma and flavor of the wine. In the French tradition, she allows the vineyard to dictate the style of the wine.
In 2010, in collaboration with other Napa professionals, Christine began the management and farming of Cockerell Family Wine Estates, coming full circle to her roots in French viticulture. Because she also is the winemaker for this organization, having served in this role since 2006. Christine now oversees and nurtures the fruit in every way from bud break to the bottle, just as her colleagues in Bordeaux do.