Our Winery

The Montesquieu Winemaking Experience

March 28, 2012, by: Stephen George

Our barrel room

Montesquieu Winery has long been committed not only to sourcing and crafting for our clients some of the finest wines in the world, but also to offering our clients a unique experience of the good life. In all that we do, we seek to champion the value of direct relationships and the joy of personal experience. After all, what else is great wine about?

It is with this in mind that we designed The Montesquieu Winemaking Experience. For the first time, we are offering our clients the opportunity to experience what it means to be a winemaker in Napa Valley. A limited number of clients will have an opportunity to purchase an entire barrel of our best 2010 wine (approximately 25 cases) to call their own – to name, brand, label and even blend in person in Napa with their broker under the guidance of our winemaker Hélène Mingot. View Full Post


A Tale of Two Terroirs: Montesquieu Winery Debuts Derenoncourt California Lot for Premiere Napa Valley 2012

February 23, 2012, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi

Stéphane Derenoncourt and Montesquieu CEO Fonda Hopkins, Ink Grade

Today marked the beginning of the 16th Annual Premiere Napa Valley Auction, which is one of the most exciting events of the year in Napa, where the most influential members of the wine industry from all over the country and the globe—including vintners, retailers, brokers, distributors, media and restaurant owners—gather to experience the very best and most innovative wines from our country’s leading appellation. It is a whirlwind weekend of events, starting with seminars and tastings, and culminating in the grand finale—a barrel tasting and live auction on Saturday February 25 at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena.

In previous years, we have been fortunate to be one of the auction’s most active bidders—however this year is special. We are not only attending the seminars, tastings and auction, but unveiling our first-ever lot—A Tale of Two Terroirs by Stéphane Derenoncourt—5 cases of 2010 Derenoncourt California Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain. View Full Post


Happy New Year from Montesquieu Winery

December 31, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi

We at Montesquieu Winery wish everyone a most Happy New Year!  Reflecting back on 2011, it has been such an eventful year full of unique and wonderful wine adventures including our first Montesquieu Grand Cru Champagne, the release of our coveted 2007 Derenoncourt California wines, our first Juntarse from the Uco Valley co-produced with Michel Rolland, our developing relationship with Doc Hendley and his team at Wine to Water and so much more!

Our journey to make and find truly distinctive wines has taken us around the world and back again, and we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the relationships old and new that make it all happen!  So we raise a glass to you wine lovers everywhere– clients, winemakerswine brokers and all–we value your part in making our community so vibrant, cheers!

May your enjoyment of wine among friends and family highlight the best of times, soothe the edges of challenges and bring a smile and spring to your step as we look forward to 2012!

Happy New Year to all!


With Gratitude From Montesquieu Winery

November 25, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi

As we enjoy leftovers and reflect on our Thanksgiving celebrations—savoring quality time with friends and family sharing delicious dishes and favorite wines—we would like to be sure to say thank you to all the wonderful people that make up our Montesquieu Winery community.

Thank you to our clients all over the country, who have joined us on our journey of discovering and drinking some of the world’s most delicious and exciting wines. We are privileged to work with you, to get to know you and your preferences and share each other’s stories as we seek to enhance quality of life through the appreciation and enjoyment of wine. We are constantly inspired hearing how our wines have been a part of your lives; being a part of your wine experience is very meaningful to us! View Full Post


Michel Rolland and Montesquieu Winery: Joining Together in Pursuit of Perfection

May 26, 2011, by: Stephen George

The Uco Valley in all its splendor

Spend a little time in the Uco Valley in Argentina, and it doesn’t take long to realize that  not only is Michel Rolland one of the most accomplished winemakers of our time – he’s also a true visionary.

That’s a bold statement, perhaps.  But once you’ve seen Bodega Rolland firsthand, situated at an elevation of 3,300 feet in the shadow of the snowcaps of the Andes, the conclusion is inescapable. The proof of Michel’s vision is everywhere you look.

You see it in the in the vineyard’s rocky, arid soils where the vines’ roots burrow deeply in desperate search for nutrients.  You see it in the rugged, barren terrain that surrounds the vineyards as in every direction, offering no evidence of life beyond the occasional desert flower. View Full Post


Montesquieu Winery Update: In the Cellar and Beyond

March 25, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi

Montesquieu Winery's Helene Mingot at Arkenstone

Montesquieu Winery's Helene Mingot at Arkenstone

In the Cellar

Our last cellar update in early December left off with our Montesquieu wines in barrel undergoing malolactic fermentation. Throughout the process, all of the barrels are constantly monitored and tasted to follow development closely— keeping our winemaker Hélène Mingot on her toes!

Each lot is unique and reaches the end of malolactic fermentation separately. The entire process was finished by early March, with all of our 2010 wines having proceeded to aging in our custom French oak barrels, which is where we are now.

Our Barrels

The story behind our barrels is a result of a long-standing relationship that Stéphane Derenoncourt has had for years with a small French cooperage in business for generations. Stéphane and Hélène greatly value working directly with their trusted source, who procures only the best single-forest wood from very specific sustainable forests. View Full Post


Derenoncourt California Welcomed By Napa Valley Vintners

January 20, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi

Napa Valley Vintners Logo

Good news!  This week the Napa Valley Vintners Board of Directors welcomed Derenoncourt California into its membership.

The Napa Valley Vintners is a non-profit organization of Napa Valley wineries, responsible for promoting and protecting the Napa Valley appellation. It is widely-recognized as one of the leading wine trade organizations in the world.

The member vintners consistently demonstrate critical leadership in the industry and community.  Whether by raising funds for local charity organizations (Auction Napa Valley has given nearly $97 million to local non-profits since its inception in 1981) or by uniting to prevent the infestation of the European Grapevine Moth, Napa Valley Vintners is constantly seeking new and innovative ways to protect, promote and enhance the Napa Valley and the wine industry at large. Derenoncourt California is proud to be a member of the organization and looks forward to contributing to its continued success.

Stéphane Derenoncourt

Stéphane Derenoncourt and Fonda Hopkins

Derenoncourt California is a unique winemaking project combining the vision of Montesquieu Winery CEO Fonda Hopkins with the talent of internationally renowned winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt to craft high-elevation, cool-climate, site-specific Napa wines with remarkable purity and depth.  Kindred spirit and Montesquieu winemaker Hélène Mingot assists Stéphane in the grape-growing and winemaking process, overseeing every detail in the vineyards and the cellar.

Stéphane selected tiny plots with volcanic soils and cool microclimates in the Napa and Lake County AVAs with the aim of drawing out the full expression of terroir—wines that exhibit freshness, precision and balance while possessing a palate-pleasing sensuality. “With these wines, I hope to achieve complexity, elegance, power and a true sense of place,” Derenoncourt says.

Derenoncourt California Merlot

The inaugural 2006 vintage was acclaimed by critics and clients alike, creating great anticipation for the impending release of the 2007 wines. These small-production wines are highly allocated and sold winery-direct via a mailing list.

We look forward to collaborating with the many spirited vintners and grape growers who have been part of the Napa Valley wine industry since the early 1800s.


Early Returns on the 2010 Harvest: Montesquieu Winemaker Reviews Progress In The Cellar

January 4, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi

Artistry In The Cellar

Montesquieu Production Facility Arkenstone, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley

Hélène and Stéphane monitoring fermentation in our cellar

After one of the most eventful seasons in quite some time, we’ve shifted from vineyard work at the end of October 2010 and negotiating all of Mother Nature’s whims, to cellar work in November and December with more controlled variables.  This might appear to some to be a break in the hectic pace of things.  But our winemaker, Hélène Mingot, tells us this is not the case — it is merely a change of focus, not unlike dancers transitioning from a quickstep to a tango.  A change of rhythm and technique, yes, but both dances are equally challenging to perform.  Similarly, Hélène and Stéphane are light on their feet, striving to allow the raw quality of the fruit to blossom in such a way as to make the best and most expressive wine possible from each of our parcel’s terroir.

Achieving this goal requires a delicate balance between doing just enough in the cellar to harness the full potential of the fruit, but not intervening too much in order to avoid manipulating the character of the wine.  Such an approach is extremely time consuming, as it demands the kind of care and attention that is anything but automated or formulaic, nothing like the mechanical procedures employed by so many corporate-run, high-volume wine producers.  This goes beyond simple execution. It requires artistry and having all senses attuned and ready, watching, listening, interacting, — no “one size fits all” here!

As we look to what 2011 promises to bring, let’s review exactly how we got from point A to point B — what’s happened in the cellar from harvest until now.

View Full Post


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Montesquieu

December 24, 2010, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi

All of us at Montesquieu wish everyone wonderful holiday celebrations, and hope all of  your holidays are great, filled with warmth as you enjoy favorite food and wines with loved ones.  May you have some magic and wonder dashed in with new experiences, be they surprising new wines and finds, or anything that brings a smile and a twinkle to your eye!  Cheers!

San Francisco Office with Macy's Santa Dec 2010

San Franciso Office With Macy's Santa


Montesquieu Winery’s Hélène Mingot: Talent and Experience Drive Montesquieu Winemaking

November 29, 2010, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi

It’s hard to identify the single most important feature of a great winery.  But there’s no question that having a really talented winemaker makes the short list.

At Montesquieu Winery, we’re fortunate that our winemaker, Hélène Mingot, not only can navigate California’s wine-growing regions with aplomb, but also possesses a wealth of experience in winemaking in Europe — which is essential to Montesquieu’s global approach to wine appreciation.

Hélène Mingot

Montesquieu Winemaker Hélène Mingot

Raised in the idyllic Loire Valley, a center of fine wine production in France, Hélène seemed destined from the beginning to excel in the world of wine.

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,” and she proved skilled in her endeavors, Hélène realized that she preferred actual winemaking over research. So she set her sights on winemaking and soon 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.

Early in her career, Hélène met renowned winemaker 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. View Full Post


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