Women of Wine: The Makers of Mugneret-Gibourg Keep It in the Family

When the Burgundian winemaker Georges Mugneret’s second daughter, Marie-Andrée, was born, his friends extended their sympathies. “All the people in the village said to our father, ‘Oh, my poor Georges, another girl … you are so unlucky,” says Marie-Andrée Nauleau-Mugneret about half a century later. Indeed, up until recently, female viticulturists were rare in Burgundy, one of the most traditional winemaking regions in the world. But Georges brushed off the villagers’ concerns. The Domaine Georges Mugneret, after all, had been founded and run by both his parents in an equal partnership, and had become one of the most respected producers in the Côte de Nuits region.

Georges, according to Marie-Andrée, answered defiantly, “Don’t worry,” he said, “Côte de Nuits will be managed by women in the future!”

He was right to place his faith in his daughters. When he died at a relatively young age, in 1989, Marie-Andrée and her older sister, Marie-Christine, dropped their career plans—one had studied to be a pharmacist and the other an engineer—to take over the winery. As of this year, they’ve been joined by a member of the fourth generation, Marie-Christine’s daughter, Lucie Hinterlang-Teillaud. 

Domaine Georges Mugneret produces a range of excellent wines, all of them from Pinot Noir grapes, per the Burgundian standard. The women don’t have a favorite among the nine appellations they produce—it would be picking a favorite child—but the have a special fondness for Clos Vougeot, named for the 16th century château at which they all were married.

“You always have this castle in front of you,” says Lucie, among the vines that lie in the shadow of the château, “and it’s like if the castle protects the vineyard.”

Under their watch, Mugneret-Gibourg wine has reached global recognition, thanks in part to La Paulée, the yearly gathering of producers and connoisseurs of Burgundy wine. The relatively small size of the Mugneret-Gibourg estate, about 20 acres, means that its production is especially vulnerable to vagaries of the weather. But it also means that each bottle—practically each grape—goes through the sisters’ hands. One of their first innovations was to install a sorting table so they could rid  bunches of any imperfect fruit.

The extra work, they believe, allows them more control and precision. This, they say, is the biggest difference between their way of making wine and that of their father, who, as a full-time ophthalmologist, could only devote half of his attention to the winery.

There’s maybe an added “touch of sensitivity,” Marie-Andrée says. She believes that, were her ancestors to try the today’s Mugneret-Gibourg wines, it would taste familiar—comparable, perhaps, to the best vintages of their time.

“Naturally,” she says, “I would hope our grandfather and father would find it delicious!”

For more on innovative Burgundian winemakers, explore the worlds of Maison Joseph Drouhin and Domaine Yvon Clerget.

The team behind La Paulée will celebrate another popular wine region, Champagne, when La Fête du Champagne returns to New York City November 8-10, 2018. American Express is the Grand Cru sponsor of La Fête du Champagne, offering Card Members exclusive events, ticket packages, and a 2-week presale to the entire program. Terms apply. Learn more here.

Must be 21 years of age or older to consume alcoholic beverages. Please drink responsibly.