Upon first glance of Chateau Fonplégade, Denise and Stephen Adams felt an undeniable call to be caretakers of the 13th century estate just steps from the village of Saint-Émilion in the renowned Bordeaux region. Their love for this part of France began many years prior when they married in the Dordogne region and honeymooned in Saint-Émilion, and they felt destined to become stewards of the property and its surrounding land. In 2004, the couple realized their dream and acquired the historic site, with intention to transform their newly adopted home with meticulous care, devotion, respect, and attention to detail.
Chateau Fonplégade is located in Bordeaux’s Saint-Émilion region
Located near the charming Saint-Émilion village, Chateau Fonplégade is an iconic landmark located on the flanks of the famed hillside. Its name means “fountain of plenty” and was derived from the 13th century stone fountain that graces the estate’s vineyard. It quenched the thirst of passing pilgrims for hundreds of years, and continues to provide sustenance to the estate’s vines in the driest vintages.
With their acquisition of Chateau Fonplégade, the duo took-on a long-term vision to not only vastly improve the quality of the wine, but to honor the estate by returning it to its former grandeur. Upon purchasing the estate, the Adams informed the valued Chateau Fonplégade team—a team that had been at the estate for decades—that they would be removing all chemicals from the property and farming it 100% organically. In 2005, they replanted one-third of the vineyard, focusing on organic and biodynamic viticultural practices. (Biodynamic farming strives to return total life force and vitality to the soil, allowing the vines access to the full spectrum of nutrients they need to become more resilient to pests, diseases, and extreme conditions, and to build a healthy immune system in the vineyard.) They also renovated the cellars and restored the chateau (destroyed in World War II) to its former glory.
Denise Adams farms Chateau Fonplégade organically and biodynamically
Under Denise’s careful tutelage, the estate was officially in conversion for organic farming by 2010 and received its certification from ECOCERT in 2013 after undergoing a stringent process. And in 2020, they obtained certification from Biodyvin after a rigorous three-year evaluation process that included stringent protocols such as measuring the amount of copper used in the vineyard, sulfur in the cellar, and various compulsory compost preparations.
Chateau Fonplégade’s 45.5 acres—a diverse terroir of limestone, clay, and a combination of both—is divided into 27 individual parcels, each with its own distinct qualities. The average vine age is 30 years old. The plots are farmed entirely by hand, vine by vine, with meticulous focus and thoughtful processes. The Adams (who are hands-on owners in every aspect of production) and their closely-knit team strive to conceive the highest quality wine, year after year. They know, unequivocally, that this begins in the vineyard with the terroir. The wines are a direct reflection of the land from which they are grown, representing the purest and most typical expression of the terroir.
A 1928 Vintage Chateau Fonplégade
After all of their hard work, the Adams felt inspired to open their doors to the public to share their passion and to be the truest ambassadors for the greater community of Bordeaux. The estate was one of the first to open a tasting room in Saint Émilion, offering private, by-appointment-only visits, to ensure guests enjoy the highest quality experience possible.
As the caretakers of the land and historic property, it has been a great honor for the Adams to steward the estate back to its promised glory, and beyond. They are proud to be pioneers of biodynamic viticulture on Bordeaux’s legendary Right Bank. The duo believes it is their privilege and responsibility to care for this precious land so that it may be preserved for generations to come. In their work, they not only give back to the property but also to Saint-Émilion and the community which has given them and countless others endless abundance over the years.
Denise and Stephen Adams
Now available on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube Movies & TV, Apple TV+, and Google Play Movies is Eastbound Westbound – A Winemakers’ Story from Bordeaux and California, featuring Château Fonplégade. The documentary explores the deep-rooted friendship between Bordeaux and the United States by revealing how this unique bond originated in the 18th century. At the heart of this friendship lies Thomas Jefferson, American statesman, US ambassador to France, and third president of the United States. Jefferson’s love for Bordeaux wines and his role as a great connoisseur set the stage for the enduring relationship explored in Eastbound Westbound.