Priyanka French

Priyanka French

Signorello Estate (Winemaker)

Priyanka Dhar French was born and raised in Mumbai, India, graduating from St. Annes High School and, in 2009, earning a Bachelor of Technology degree in Food Science and Technology from the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) at the University of Mumbai. During her first year there, she visited Sula Vineyards, and this was a defining moment for her. She says, “The fascination with this science [winemaking] was immediate and the image of the winery and beautiful vineyards was instantly ingrained in my mind, fermenting my future aspirations. I fell in love with the panorama of the vineyards and the romance of making wine.”

With the support of an uncle and mentor at ICT, Priyanka opted to pursue further education in winemaking overseas, and was admitted to schools in Australia and France. But her dream school was the University of California, Davis, where she entered the Master’s program in Viticulture and Enology in 2009.

Her time at UC Davis was a life-changing experience for her. The program not only provided her with a solid academic background, but also the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world and learn from their creativity, innovation and experience. “The faculty and student body of this department is one of the most distinguished in the field and they have aided me in every step of my graduate career.” She completed her degree from the program in 2011, the first Indian national to do so.

While earning her degree, she was a harvest intern with the Louis M. Martini branch of E. & J. Gallo Winery, and after graduation, completed three additional internships at Hospices de Beaune (Borgogne, France) in Fall, 2011, Louis Royer (Jarnac, France) in Winter, 2011–2012, and Saint Clair Family Estate Limited (Marlborough, New Zealand) in Spring, 2012. She followed these with a stint with Tonnellerie Demptos to develop and execute a detailed market survey and research on the wine and spirits in her home country and to plan an investment strategy for entry of the company into this market. Priyanka followed this with an appointment as vintage winemaker at Framingham Wines in Renwick, New Zealand, for the harvest of 2013.

She returned to California in Fall, 2013, assuming a 10-month internship position at Stags Leap Winery in Napa. In October of 2014, she joined Dalla Valle Vineyards as cellarmaster/enologist, where she remained until 2019, before assuming her current position as winemaker for Signorello Estate on the Silverado Trail. She intends to build on the winery’s legacy by focusing on its precision viticulture and restrained winemaking. Moreover, she will oversee construction of the new winery and caves, replacing those that were destroyed in October, 2017, by the so-called Atlas fire.

Her love for wine is encapsulated in her own words, “It has given me a reason to wake up and learn; there’s always so much to learn. I’ve had the opportunity to meet such wonderful people and see the most beautiful places in my pursuit of this field. It has taught me to appreciate the better things in life, and face challenges for every vintage is a challenge, no two things are ever the same.”

In her spare time, Priyanka enjoys cooking, exploring global cuisines, gardening, and spending time outdoors with her beloved dog Chloe. She feels fortunate to call the Napa Valley her home. If not drinking Napa wines, her glass is usually filled with Champagne and Burgundy.