MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In this edition of Women to Watch, Trend Tracker® Tara Gilani tracked down one of America’s most influential, young, female winemakers, Pauline Lhote of Chandon. The two women met up at the elegant and effervescent Ritz Carlton South Beach for conversation and sparkling wine sipping—a good time was had by all.
Pauline Lhote makes sparkling wine for Domaine Chandon, of Moet & Chandon, one of the top Champagne houses in the world.
“I’m the sparkling wine maker for Domaine Chandon so I get to craft all of the lovely sparkling wines. Obviously I’m from France. I think you can get the accent.”
“What accent?” laughed Gilani, in regards to Lhote ‘s exquisite French lilt.
Lhote was born in Champagne, France–an omen of things to come, indeed.
“I worked for the mother company before: Moet & Chandon. I came to Napa, California for a 3 month internship and that was 9 years ago.”
One of Gilani’s favorite things? Bubbles. “I adore bubbles, especially when they come from Moet & Chandon,” said Gilani. The impromptu Chandon tasting during the interview and the gorgeous suite made for the perfect shoot, Gilani said.
There are other female winemakers out there but not as many as there should be.
“Not so much, no,” said Lhote. “It’s really a male dominant environment.”
Gilani asked how Lhote pays it forward. “You’re a leader in the industry. We’re looking to you to get other women into the business. Is that something that’s important to you?”
“It’s extremely important to me,” Lhote replied. “I have been taught and mentored by women and I want to do the same for other women going forward. For me being a woman in the industry has never been an obstacle I actually thought it was easy, you know woman in a male environment you know you tend to have a little more help.”
Lhote, Gilani said, is ahead of her time. “I adore Pauline’s sparkling personality and her self-confidence,” said Gilani.
“I think I bring something different to the table meaning people tend to listen to what I have to say because I bring the women’s perspective.”
Gilani asked about moonlighting. “Forget the 40 year old virgin, how about the 60 year old intern? Am I too old to be an intern?” Lhote told Gilani she could come and Gilani said, “Will work for Champagne.”
Lhote is game. “We have an internship every year we take a lot of women and that’s something I would like to do for the future, being a mentor.”
Who wouldn’t want to be a farmer in these magnificent fields? From grape to harvest to bottle, Gilani said, she’d love all of it.
“Really what make me happy,” said Pauline, “is ultimately the finished product so you get to taste the results of your work but it’s also a job there are no regular days so it’s always different, busy out in the vineyard, back inside, taste wines, my job is very diverse. I also come to Miami for interviews.”
Outside of work, Lhote likes being outside.
“I really love living in Napa and I love the outdoors, hiking, take my dog to walk, gardening, I grow my own vegetables, cooking and most of all I like entertaining people, hosting my friends, having them over and drinking some wine. Perfect sunny day, going on a hike with my dog, in the vineyard.”
“I want to move Napa and work for you,” Gilani said, “Or maybe I’ll just walk the dog and taste the wine.”
Lhote, from the heart, answered the Trend Tracker®’s round of questions: I am, “grateful for the life I have,” I want, “people to know that they can have sparkling wine for every different occasion,” I will, “do my best every day and will stay true to myself,” I wish, “to spend more time with the people I love and I wish people would do that too.”