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Lainie Taillefer
About me


Flying Winemaker

Étrangère Winemaker, a nomadic vinification project from sommelier-turned winemaker Lainie Taillefer is an exploration of place shaped by over a decade of experience in the world of natural wine, from vineyard to glass.


    Lainie, born in Rouyn-Noranda in the Abitibi region of northern Quebec, has had the travel bug for as long as she can remember. After studies in international commerce in Quebec City, she studied International Marketing at Montreal’s renowned HEC, where a semester abroad in Hungary led to many adventures as she backpacked and couchsurfed her way across 17 European countries. Lainie’s promising career as a marketing consultant in Montreal was cut short when a curiosity about natural wine was ignited from her regular bar stool at Montreal's pioneering natural-wine focused restaurant Les Trois Petit Bouchons.

Photo credit Audrey-Eve Beauchamp

With her growing passion for wine nurtured by friends and acquaintances and seeking to forge a new career from this spark, Lainie set out in 2010 for a harvest season with Christian Binner in Alsace. 

    Lainie's first professional experience in wine was to get her hands dirty: on  her first day at harvest she was tasked with cleaning the cellar top to bottom, with nothing but water and a brush! While harvest entailed long days of hard work, with picking beginning at dawn and press cycles going late into the night, the harvest days at Domaine Binner always ended with a communal meal and wine. This first intimate contact with the breadth of the natural wine world allowed Lainie to develop her palate and deepen her knowledge of the world of natural wine. Visits to like-minded vignerons and to natural wine fairs allowed Lainie to develop relationships with many luminaries of the natural wine world and to hone both her knowledge and her tasting skills. 

    It was through these encounters and an impressive guess at a blind tasting that, Lainie's drive and passion guided her to an internship at the legendary Caves Augé, a 6 months period in which she attended la Dive Bouteille for the first time, pouring wines for Christian Binner, and tasted many more wines. This internship offered a further immersion in wine and wine culture- including a lesson in how to open a bottle of Champagne from Vouette & Sorbée's Bertrand Gautherot.

    After nearly a year spent learning in France, Lainie returned to Montreal. Unsure of where to next direct her passion, she worked a variety of jobs related to  wine: occasional shifts at the SAQ, a job giving guided tours of wineries in the Eastern Townships. The natural wine community in Montreal at the time was small and opportunity came knocking: a first experience as a suiteur in a fine dining restaurant was followed by a chance encounter with Philip Morriset, then head Sommelier of Accords, where Lainie would spend 2 years on the floor working with a deep cellar of natural and biodynamic wines and a daily offer of 50 wines by the glass. 

    But the urge to travel returned, and so Lainie set off with a friend on a 4000 kilometre trip across France to meet vignerons in their vines and homes, after which Lainie joined the the wine team at London's Antidote Wine Bar. When Antidote later closed for extended renovations Lainie, dissatisfied with the city's high cost of living and the machismo of its restaurant industry, chose to return to Montreal. 

    On her return to Montreal, Lainie immediately stepped into a role as the sommelier for Lawrence Restaurant, taking over what was at the time one of the few natural-wine focused lists in the city. In the following years she would also consult on the wine list for the wine bar Majestique, assist with the opening and operations of pioneering cave à manger Cul Sec, launch the wine program for the Lawrence groups all-day cafe/resto/wine-bar Larry's and develop and teach an introductory wine class aimed at providing service professionals with basic knowledge of both classic appellations and the world of natural wine. 

    After 2 years, the urge to travel returned and Lainie embarked on her next adventures, first as Wine Director for Rosewood Hotels in Antigua & Barbuda, and then as Sommelier and General Manager of the Michelin starred Seven Swans in Frankfurt, Germany. 

    After leaving Seven Swans, Lainie began a collaboration with Microbio Wines in Segovia, handling export sales and participating in work in the vineyard and the cellar until she finally, for vintage 2020, tried her hand at producing her own wine, the first L'Étrangère cuvée of many more to come.

Words by Keaton Ritchie


to these inspiring people and all the other ones who crossed my path and share their passion with me.


Nadja & Andréj Miklušičák | Naboso


Mike Marler & Véro Hupin | Les Pervenches


Franz Strohmeier | Strohmeier


Deirdre Heekin |
La Garagistra


Sefi Amir & Marc Cohen | Lawrence & Larry's

Geneviève Rioux.jpg

Geneviève Rioux | Rosewood Las Ventanas

Los Cabos | Mexico


Athénaïs de Béru | Château de Béru


Alessandra Bera | Vittorio Bera & Figli

Piedmont | Italy

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