Burgundy is a most storied wine region, its wine among the most expensive and highly valued in the world. The wines hailing from Burgundy are thought to be the pinnacle of viticulture, yet here are some who think that the wines and region are no longer interesting and a bit staid. Something many do not know is that many new exciting things are coming out of Burgundy—one of them is the proliferation of outstanding female winemakers. Women are adding fresh perspectives to the old boys’ network of winemakers, and are reviving Burgundy with feminine creativity.
1) Domaine Manoir du Capucin, firstname.lastname@example.org, has been a family run winery for many generations beginning with Chloe Bayon’s (MdC vintner) great-grand father who fell in love with Fuisse and helped to establish the AOC Fuisse in 1936. Chloé grew up in Nice with a passion for wine, which led her to study winemaking. In Nice, she found it difficult to be accepted because of her gender. Worked hard to prove her capabilities, then moved to Fussié 10 years ago to helm Manoir DU Capucin. Chloé manages the day-to-day operations of the 13 hectare winery along with two others, all while expecting her second child. Chloé’s goal in returning to Fussié was to restore the winery to the status of her great grandfather’s rich tradition of making great wines.
2) Domaine Feuillat-Juillot, email@example.com, is owned by Francoise Feuillat-Juillot. Françoise has been making wine since 1989 with her father Nickel Juillot. Francoise’s passion for winemaking stems from a rich family tradition of winemaking. Getting to where she is now has been no easy feat. In Burgundy, if there are two children, female and male in a winemaking family, the boy is trained to become successor without regard to any winemaking talent the girl in the family may happen to display. That didn’t deter Francoise, her solution was to begin her own domaine. In 2004 she became owner and winemaker at Domaine Feuillat-Juillot where she manages 14 hectares with two other employees. She produces about 60,000 bottles yearly, 13 Premier Crus, and distributes is the USA.
3) Domaine Parent, www.domaine-parent-bourgogne.com, owned by sisters Anne and Catherine, is located in Pommard. Anne, fluent in English, travels the world promoting Domaine Parent wines and advocating for women winemakers. Anne and Catherine represent the twelfth generation of family winemaking in Burgundy. The family has been producing wine since 1635, and after 11 generations of male wine makers, the Parent sisters are in control of the domaine and have been since1998. Legend has it that Thomas Jefferson while serving as ambassador to France was a huge fan of their wines and a personal friend to Etienne Parent.
Anne and Catherine divide the responsibility of running the winery; Anne handles the wine making and Catherine handles the business of running the Domaine. Domaine Parent makes wine according to Burgundian classifications: Bourgogne, Village, Premier Cru, and Grand Cru. Anne’s personal philosophy on wine making is “There are no bad vintages, there are only bad winemakers”, she made this statement in reference to the extremely challenging 2012 vintage. Anne is also a big believer in organic and biodynamic farming and is moving her Domaine in that direction. Anne has had a passion for wine making from a very young age, but growing up with brothers, a father will choose males in the family to carry on the wine making tradition. In general women are left to explore other avenues to fulfill their passions. Anne went to the University to study law then later returned to study wine making.
Once her brother left to start his own Domaine, Anne and her Catherine took control of Domaine Parent. Anne believes it is clearly more challenging for women coming up in the wine industry by having to prove themselves three times more than there male winemaker counterparts to obtain the respect they desire. An overall view of the wines from Pommard will find that they tend to be more masculine as well as elegant in style, this is also true of Anne’s wine. Her red wines from the Bourgogne and Village levels have dark cherry fruit with a peppery finish. The Premier Crus are rounder in style but still have a dark cherry acidity and a lingering peppery finish. Anne has created two amazing Grand Crus, upon tasting them the Burgundian classification system is fully realized. The 2008 Corton Grand Cru Les Renardes which was aged 16 months new french oak, has a deep garnet color, black cherry notes, round with depth on the palate. The finish is long with some spice, and you can sense that the oak is there but it doesn’t define this great wine.
4) Domaine Chateau de Chassagne Montrachet, firstname.lastname@example.org, owner is Francine Picard. Founded in 1951 by her father Louis Felix Picard, owner of two hectares of vineyards in the town of Chagny. His children took over the winery in 1990 and they now have 13.5 hectares of land. Francine is also a true believer in the environment, and is steering her winery to become organic and biodynamic. Francine is the business mind behind Chateau de Chassagne Montrachet and incorporates a three-part business philosophy for running a winery: Organic Wine Making, Economics & Business, and the social aspects of managing a winery. Since 2006 she has directed and created a strong teamwork environment for her crew of approximately 30 employees
5) Domaine Dubreuil-Fontaine, winemaker and owner Christine Dubreuil- Fontaine, Domaine@dubreuil-fontaine.com. Located in the Côte de Beaune Domaine. Dubreuil started as a family winery in 1879. They have over 20 hectares , its vineyards cover the villages of: Pernand-Vergelesses, Aloxe-Corton, Savigny Les Beaune, Pommard, Beaune, and Volnay. She makes wine on variety of levels, Bourgogne, Village, Premier Cru, to Grand Cru. Christine has been in charge of the winemaking and the business of the Domaine for the past 20 years, she works closely with her husband and 10 employees. Christine is fulltime business woman and a loving mother of two children ages 13 and 17. Christine attended wine school in Beaune and then business school in Paris. In addition she lived in the US for several months working at Simi Winery in California and a local wine store in LA. Ms. Dubreuil- Fontaine is a fabulous wine maker who takes a balanced approach to winemaking believing in the limited use of oak.
We tasted through many of her wines the 2010 Pernand-Vergelesses Village contains plenty of good minerality, the 2009 Clos Berthet Premier Cru is driven by a fresh mineral quality that rounds out the wine, Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru was explosive with citrus fruits, well balanced yet a powerful long lasting finish. Pernand Iledes premier cru 2009 crushed black cherry fruit with balance acidity and a spicy peppery finish. This wine is an excellent choice to purchase and enjoy now.
Corton Grand Cru, wow! From the moment I inhaled the amazing aromas and put this beautiful wine on my palate, I knew it would be something special, deep garnet in color with a bouquet of black cherry and spice, then on the palate those fruits explode with flavor, well rounded, a mouth full of joy and a long lingering finish.
6) Domaine Rion & Fils, Pascale-Rion email@example.com. Pascale is the business lady behind this Domaine’s success she is also fulltime mother of three children and a wife, experiencing all of the challenges of balancing family life and running a winery. It is Pascale’s two brothers that are at the helm of the Domaine Rion& Fils, as well as handle all winemaking. This is due to traditional family structure in Burgundy, the patriarchal structure states that the son of the father will be head of the Domaine and winemaking no matter how talented the females might be. I believe deep down Pascale would love to be a winemaker. In fact, Pascale shared a tasty wine with me that she made in 09. Domaine Rion & Fils make several excellent wines starting with the village level in new Niuts Saint George north and south, Vosne Romanée, to Echezeaux. Moving into The Grand Cru Clos Veugeot, cherry spicy with great mineralbility and balance throughout the finish of the wine.
7) Domaine Taupenot-Merme, Domaine.Taupenot-Merme@orange.fr. Ms Taupenot-Merme is President of the Association Femmes et de Bourgogne (www.fevb.net). Her Domaine is at the heart of burgundy and vineyards at Morey- Saint Denis, this estate is a place to discover the wealth of Burgundy wines. The winery spans 7 generations her father is from Coté Beaune and her mother is from Côte Nuit, Ms Taupenot-Merme attended winemaking school in Beaune France and studied business in Paris and New York, she also travel to San Francisco California to study how wine was made in the West. She returned to Bergen in 1995 and started working with her father making wine at the domain, but soon after her brother returned to the Domaine. Once again we see the patriarchal system at work as the son takes over duties as winemaker. Forced to give up her ambition of becoming a winemaker, her duties now include being in charge of all the business aspect of the Domaine. Being in control of the business aspect of the Domaine has not diminished her great passion to make wine in the future. Currently a full time mother of 2 children 2 and 6 years old, Ms. Taupenot-Merme is a working mother and a business lady all in one. Putting in 16hour days accepting and meeting the challenging aspects of the dueling duties of mother hood and handling the day-to-day operations with a staff of 11 employees of the winery head on. As with many career minded mothers there seems to never be enough time in a day to fulfill all of her obligations. Ms. Taupenot-Merme takes educating future generations of winemakers seriously and especially believes women should learn every aspect of winery operations so that one day they will have the capabilities of taking over as winemaker. She is the President and a founding member of the female wine makers Association in Burgundy, which now has approximately 39 female members.
8) Domaine Audoin, Marie-Françoise Audoin Owner wine maker for 35 years with her husband Charles and son Cyril, firstname.lastname@example.org. They started this great winery with 2 hectares and through reclamation and purchasing new plots, they now have a total of 14 hectares, with most of the vines sitting hillside receiving the southeast exposure of Marsannay. Ms Audoin is a lovely engaging lady who communicated her passion and skill for winemaking to me effortlessly despite our language barrier. Marie tasted me through most of the wines that are produced at Audoin, along the way providing a history lesson on the rose Pinot Noir that is produced in Marsannay. Marsannay is the only area in Burgundy where the creation of rose of Pinot Noir is permitted. I would highly recommend Audoin rose of Pinot Noir. I tasted through the Audoin wines and found them pleasant, easy to drink and priced reasonably. The next generation winemaker at Audion will be their son Cyril , who has trained all over the world and in position himself to become a very prominent winemaker. As his parents begin to retire, Cyril is well prepared to take control of the domain and propel it to the next level.
9) Domaine Les Temps Perdus, owner winemaker Clothide Davenne, email@example.com. After 17 years as a winemaker for the Brocard Winery, Ms. Davenne went about establishing her own Domaine in 2005. Ms Davenne is an experimental and innovative winemaker using Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay Pinot Noir and a locally grown grape called Caesar. She also creates an excellent sparkling wine from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Ms. Davenne is a driven, determined, hard working lady who has a vision of the future and knows how to accomplish her goals. She admits to being very controlling of the entire operation from wine making to the business side of her domain, and has little patience for others who are not as driven and as motivated as she is in completing their daily tasks. Ms. Davenne is a seasoned veteran winemaker who has traveled throughout the world to become the best wine maker possible. Clothide’s story is a bit unique as she does not come from a family of wine makers, the family farm she grew up on did not revolve around viticulture.
Her tasting journey into winemaking started with the family tradition of giving their children a spoonful of champagne around the age of 8 years old. I started tasting through numerous bottles of wine with Ms. Davenne and her trusted assistant. Starting with a sparkling Brut Rose which I have to admit it was one of the finest rose that I’ve ever tasted couple with a hard to believe price point at under 10 dollars, truly phenomenal. She also produces a fantastic Sauvignon Blanc as well as a very nice example of Pinot Noir, which is not typically grown in Chablis. Ms. Davenne’s other white wines are made from the Chardonnay grape and an excellent example of how a great Chardonnay can be made in Chablis. She also makes a Grand Cru from Chablis, which admittedly was the finest Grand Cru that I tasted in Chablis. Ms.Davenne has a Son, who is currently more passionate about thoroughbred equestrian competitions than winemaking, he does however return during harvest to assist with day to day operations at the Domaine. Ms.Davenne looks forward to the day when wine becomes his passion, so that he may take control of the Domain in the future.
I would be remiss in completing this article without another mention of the very unusual grape variety called Caesar that Ms.Davenne grows from 100 year old vines, which just happened to produce one of the best wines I tasted during my journey through Burgundy. Thank you for the great visit and a delicious lunch at LE Soufflot in a quaint town.
10) Domaine Des Malandes, Owner Vigneronne Lyne Marchive, firstname.lastname@example.org. Ms. Marchive is from an old Chablis winemaking family: The Tremblay of Chablis and in 1972 Vigneronne started her own winery and naming it Domaine Des Malandes. Controlling 27 hectares has taught her a profound respect for the environment. Ms Marchive and her wine maker Guenole Breteaudeau attempt to produce wines with freshness, finesse and minerality that come from the kimmerdgian soil associated with Chablis. Ms. Marchive is an amazing woman who has had the passion for wine from a very early age at a time when it wasn’t socially except-able for women to become wine makers. Realizing early on that she had the gift of smell and with the support of her Father (Mr.Andre Tremblay) she refined her skills. Miss Vigneronne was accepted into wine school at the tender age of 14 years old and would have been the only female in her class yet made the bold decision to turn it down, understanding her best education would come directly from the vineyards and the cellar. Ms Marchive operates the Domaine as a world class business with the majority of her delicious production (92%) being exported to Norway. Ms. Marchive has come a long way in the wine business and has earned the respect and admiration of her colleagues in viticulture. I tasted through a wide range of Domain Malandes wines and they are exactly what Ms. Marchive has strived to accomplish, lovely acidity and freshness with minerality that lingers on the finish.
11) Domaine Chateau de Beru, wine maker and owner Athenais de Beru, www.chateaudeberu.com. The de Beru family has owned their historical Château de Béru for 400 years. The tragedy of the philloxera crisis also known as the great French wine blight caused all the vines to be uprooted in the 19th century. It wasn’t until 1987 that Éric de Béru, out of his passion for wine undertook the pain staking efforts to replant the entire vineyard, and in particular, the famous Clos Béru.
His wife, Laurence and their daughter Athénaïs are now running the Domaine, they have invested considerable means to improve the production quality and give a fresh start to the Domaine. These tremendous efforts and the choice to adopt organic farming are beginning to bear fruits, and are noticeable in the vintages that have been vinified by Athénais and her team since 2004. After facing the challenging rebirth of the family Domaine in 2003 she harvested her first vintage in 2005, then started her own brand “Athénaïs” based on a close selection of parcels and growers cultivating grapes in the respect of Chablis terroirs.
I tasted three wines from Domaine de Beru the 07 and 09 Clos Beru from Monopole, the grapes are harvested by hand and fermented in old oak barrels without fining and filtration. The wine is aged for 18 months. This is a very unique wine. It was well rounded with fresh acidity, minerality and salt/iodinated lime on the finish. This is a complex, well-structured wine with it’s own identity.
Chateau de Beru also has a wonderful B&B on the property that is managed by her mother who makes a great breakfast every morning. Thanks for the hospitality.
In closing I would like to thank the Bourgognes, Bureau Interprofessionnel vins de Bourgogne www.burgundy-wines.fr for making this wonderful journey possible. My deepest gratitude for the 11 incredible women that I met along my journey through Burgundy and Chablis. It is because of their vision and passion for wine making that they are the future of Burgundy. These talented brave women have come together as one to announce that the traditional system of selecting males solely because of their gender to lead a Domaine is something that requires re-evaluation. For the past 25 years these women have proven that they are creative, passionate and beyond capable winemakers able to operate a Domaine as efficient as any of their male peers in Burgundy or Chablis. All the best ladies and many thanks again for your gracious hospitality, the world looks forward to many more delicious wines to come.