Prix ​​des Artisanes 2022: Hélène Ponty, winner in the “Vine and wine professions” category

Published on November 24, 2022 at 10:30 p.m.

She won our 2022 Artisanes Prize, in the “Vineyard and wine professions” category. Hélène Ponty, a passionate winegrower, touched us with her concern for ecological and inclusive issues. Portrait.

When you have two parents who work in wine, what job do you choose to do? “Tax lawyer”, answers Hélène Ponty bluntly. It is indeed far from the vines that this 36-year-old winegrower made her first part of her career. “After studying law and business, I went to live abroad, first in the United States and then in China,” she says. Holder of a Master 2 in Business Law and Taxation then a double Master’s degree from HEC Paris and the MIT Sloan School of Management, she first worked in a strategy firm in Boston. The return to France, Hélène Ponty envisages it when she lives this time in China, at a time when the wine industry is experiencing great development there. “It made me want to import my father’s wines to this big market,” she says.

And here is the young woman back in Fronsac, in Gironde, to take over the family property, Vignobles Ponty, founded by her great-grandfather in 1905. It is September 2019 and Hélène, with her experience as a globetrotter, has already her little idea in mind about the new direction she wishes to give to the estate: “Of all the properties that I had visited in France and around the world, I had noticed that there were some on which we felt good. The soils seemed richer, the vines more beautiful, the environment more diverse, and the wines more lively. These properties were always in organic or biodynamic agriculture, and it is therefore quite natural that I turned to these methods of vineyard management”. For Hélène Ponty, it is obvious that the vine must flourish on living soils, rich in organic matter and biodiversity. Promoting biodiversity is its leitmotif. On his estate, the grapes grow in a healthy way, as naturally as possible. In the winery, interventions and inputs are limited in order to allow the quality of the grapes and the terroir from which they come to express themselves. The winegrower sums up her work as follows: “I have always wanted to make wines with a marked personality, a real signature, wines that will not leave anyone indifferent. My father never wanted to change his style to follow fashions, and I follow the same philosophy: my style of wine is the one I like to drink myself”.

A 75% female team

If Hélène Ponty is sensitive to organic farming, she is also sensitive to issues of inclusivity. On its estate, three quarters of its workforce are made up of women. Obviously for her: “As a woman managing a wine estate alone, I know that it is not always easy for a young girl to embark on certain wine trades typically considered as masculine, for example a tractor driver. 75% of our team on the estate is female, and we particularly welcome female apprentices in viticulture and oenology for the post of general-purpose tractor driver worker so that this profession is gradually becoming more feminized”. Committed, Hélène Ponty is also involved in transmission since she collaborates with local associations that work on reforestation issues, so as to involve schools and students in the region in projects for the reforestation of agricultural plots. The goal ? “Allow them to discover these biodiversity issues, but also show them the impact and

the reality of what an agricultural profession can be nowadays,” she sums up. More than a winegrower, a real wine enthusiast, whom our second edition of the Prix des Artisanes, launched by the magazines ELLE, ELLE à Table and ELLE Décoration, with the support of the LVMH group, was happy to highlight.

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