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.
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.
Her husband, David, is also a winemaker and hails from Italy, giving Hélène firsthand exposure to the rich Italian winemaking tradition and Italy’s diverse wine regions.
Montesquieu Winery discovered Hélène five years ago while on a European buying trip. Serendipity was in play for us, and for Hélène too, because she had fallen in love with California—the spirit of the land and the people. Impressed by her background and skill, we invited her to join our team, and she enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to dive into California terroir.
Now, Hélène 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 purity of expression. In constant pursuit of making balanced, delicious and intriguing wines, she wields an array of tools forged by her training and experience. Her ability to speak Italian, Spanish and, of course, fluent French and English helps her to manage Montesquieu’s numerous relationships with growers and producers both at home and abroad. And she even manages to squeeze into her demanding schedule some time for sailing and traveling, two other passions.
Hélène also assists Stéphane Derenoncourt on his first winemaking project in California, Derenoncourt California, acting as his hands and feet in Napa (www.derenoncourtcalifornia.com)
We’re delighted to have Hélène on our team, and we look forward to her continuing to craft beauties that genuinely embody the spirit of wine.