DENISE ADAMS – PROPRIETOR
The finest châteaux of France are living entities whose fortunes rise and fall based on the innate greatness of their vineyards and the vision of the individuals who steward the land. In 2003, when Denise and Stephen Adams acquired Château Fonplégade they began a process of renewal that has elevated the estate to the greatest heights in its long history. As a hands-on proprietor who lives at Château Fonplégade much of the year, Denise has personally guided this revitalization.
Applying her experience as an artist, designer, lifelong organic gardener, and a businessperson with a passion for the small details that define excellence, Denise helped to oversee a complete renovation of the winery and château, and a comprehensive renewal of the vineyard—including the adoption of organic farming practices, which culminated in Fonplegade’s “Agriculture Biologique” certification through ECOCERT.
At the same time, she has handpicked the Château Fonplégade team. Working with this exceptionally talented group, Denise is active in all areas of operations, and led the launching of Fonplégade’s pioneering hospitality program and the winery’s Club de Vin—the first club of its kind in all of Saint-Emilion. Denise is also intimately involved in all decisions that shape the quality of the wines. From approving new plantings and adopting new row directions to the utilization of concrete tanks for select microvinifications to blind tasting with Michel Rolland and Franck Jugelmann to assess the quality of every lot, Denise has established herself as a committed vintner. Her efforts have also earned the respect of her Bordelaise neighbors.
Denise earned her undergraduate degree in art history and art education from Kent State, and an MFA from Connecticut University. After teaching art for several years, she established her own highly successful interior design company in partnership with a leading architectural firm. In addition to her work at Château Fonplégade, Denise is an advisory board member for the Yale School of Art and the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. She also serves with her husband Stephen on the advisory board for the Yale School of Music.