Pauline Lhote

Pauline Lhote

Domaine Chandon (Head Winemaker)

Pauline Lhote has had a lifelong love affair with Champagnes and sparkling wines. Growing up in the Champagne region of France fostered this interest, and she directed her higher education toward attaining the expertise to accomplish the goal of producing these wines.

While earning a National Diploma of winemaking from the Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Pauline gained hands-on experience at Moët & Chandon, where she performed maturity controls, winemaking trials, and cellar work. Her time there in 2004 coincided with Moët & Chandon’s increased focus on crafting Rosé Champagnes, so Pauline spent time creating red wines used in producing rosé sparkling wines, including the coveted Dom Perignon Rosé. In 2005, Pauline took her experience to Nicolas Feuillatte, another esteemed Champagne producer. There, as consulting winemaker, she was responsible for making reds for rosé sparklers in addition to creating more base wines, performing dosage trials, and learning the art of blending.

To gain international experience, yet remain loyal to her roots in Champagne, Pauline accepted a three-month contract in 2006 with Domaine Chandon, the first French-owned sparkling wine house in California. She soon fell in love with the Napa Valley and has stayed there ever since. At Domaine Chandon, she served as the assistant winemaker for nearly a decade, was promoted to winemaker in 2015, and a year later also assumed responsibility for the winery department. Pauline continues to craft Rosé sparking wines, and bears responsibility for the day-to-day cellar operations of the wine house; these include tirage, crush, blending, and dosage trials. As a measure of her success as a winemaker, she was named to Wine Enthusiast’s Top 40 Under 40 list in 2017.

As successful as she has been, Pauline is a realist with respect to the role of women in winemaking. In her own words, "The wine industry still remains a male-dominated environment, and as a woman you need to feel comfortable with and get used to it. I grew up with two brothers, which I believe helped prepare me. As a woman, I feel that you need to be a lot more convincing and persuasive to have people adhere to your ideas and vision, so it just takes a little more effort."