Respite Winery, an Alexander Valley artisan treasure, has an unusually talented winemaking team, for which there is no quickly recognizable parallel that will easily come to mind. It is a combination that has deep roots with both Château Latour of Pauillac; and, a European Master Sommelier, who’s won the Prince Henri-Melchior de Polignac award, for best sommelier in the Nordic countries.

This powerhouse couple is the husband and wife team of Denis Malbec and wife May-Britt Malbec.

Winemaker Denis Malbec was born at Latour, which means that he not only learned to walk in between the barrels and bike in the vines, but he also learned vineyard and winery management early on with his father, Jean-Noel Malbec. Jean-Noel was also born at Latour, working there for 47 years. His tenure was from 1947 to 1994. Jean-Noel was Cellar Master from 1969 to 1994, and his grand father, Camille Malbec, who worked in the vineyard from the 1920’s until the end of the 1970’s

Denis first studied viticulture and enology in Bordeaux and later in Reims, Champagne. He completed his studies with a “Tour de France” of the vineyards with internships at Château Haut-Brion – 1988 -, Château Lagrange – 1988 -, the Pugnac Cooperative – 1989 – in Côte de Bourg, Léon Viollant – 1990 -, owner and wine merchant in Côte de Beaune, Duval Leroy – 1990 & 1991 – in the Côte des Blancs in Champagne and at Calvet – 1992 -, negociant in Bordeaux.

He started at Château Latour as one of the cellar workers in 1993 and took the position as Enologist and Cellar Master at Château Latour in 1994 and made the vintages from 1994 to 1999.

I am May-Britt Malbec and I have been in the wine business for about 15 years. I started as a sommelier in Sweden, where I have my origins and I worked in many of Stockholm’s top restaurants before I started my own restaurant: “Le Bateau” on the Royal Star, a yacht built in 1964 for King Frederic of Denmark.

In 1992, I won the Prince Henri-Melchior de Polignac award, for best sommelier in the Nordic countries, with Serena Sutcliffe as foreman of the jury. It enabled me to become part of important juries such as “Le Mondial” for the best sommelier in the world as well as the Trophée Ruinart for the best European sommelier.

I moved to France in 1995 to take care of PR at the well-respected Château Latour in Pauillac. At Latour I met Denis Malbec, their Cellar Master and enologist.

In 2000, we decided to leave the property and start our own wine consulting company that would allow us to express our knowledge and philosophy of wine in a personal and also more diversified way.

Today we consult for eight boutique wineries in and around the Napa Valley as well as a few châteaux in Bordeaux.

We would be happy to answer any further questions.

Hope to hear from you soon.