Hélène Mingot

Hélène Mingot

Montesquieu (Winemaker)

Raised in France’s famed Loire Valley, Hélène has been steeped from an early age in viticulture, oenology, and the wider agro-industrial processes. She earned a Master of Science degree at the School of Agriculture in Angers, with a Vine and Wine major. Following these studies, Hélène spent a year in Bordeaux working in a lab, testing new strains of yeast for wines, and conducting research. Although she found the scientific aspect "educational," she realized that she preferred the actual winemaking to research.

She set her sights on winemaking, and became one of only two people selected from the science arena to attend the Agronomy National School of Toulouse, where she received the French National Diploma of Oenology. She then became a cellar master in Bordeaux, making wines such as Sauternes, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet blends for various châteaux.

This experience prepared her for the next four or five years that she would spend in Italy. There, Hélène worked as a Junior Winegrowing Consultant and as an "Assagiatore di Olio" (olive oil taster) in Tuscany. She then expanded her knowledge while employed as a winemaker at a Chianti Classico estate. Her husband, David, also a winemaker and from Italy, gave Hélène exposure to the rich Italian winemaking tradition and Italy's diverse wine regions. It was while in Italy that Hélène was introduced to Stéphane Derenoncourt, whose commitment to terroir expression and sensitive handling of vines and grapes has deeply influenced her own approach to vineyard-tending and winemaking.

Hélène now lives and works in Napa Valley as Montesquieu’s winemaker. She oversees every detail in the vineyards and in the cellar with an unbending commitment to making wines of great purity and complexity. Her ability to speak Italian, Spanish, French, and English helps her to manage Montesquieu’s numerous relationships with growers and producers both at home and abroad. Hélène also assists Stéphane Derenoncourt on his first winemaking project in California, Derenoncourt California.

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