Our Inspiration

Julie Carabello


Nestled at the foot of the Château de Pommard, Simone is a 0.53 hectares plot of remarkable terroir that embodies our ultimate commitment. We plow her soils with horses, prune her vines by hand, gently harvest her grapes, and age her wine up to 30 months in French oak barrels from forests surrounding Burgundy. Simone inspires us to embrace our passions and embrace every season and every vintage with the same spirit and energy.

Inspired by the commitment of women dedicated to important causes around the world, our Propriétaire, Julie Carabello created the Simone Awards. Every January, as we release the new Simone vintage, three women are selected to receive the Simone Award. We celebrate and support the commitment of each Simone Award recipient by donating to their causes 10% of the profits from sales of Simone.

Château de Pommard works


Q&A with Julie

Why did you create the Simone Awards?

In communities all around the world, there are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. We want to shine a light on these individuals; individuals with open minds and open hearts, who are making a real difference. We want to share their stories, recognize and celebrate their commitment. Celebrities, athletes and influential people have a platform and the means to raise awareness for their causes. But for the average person who doesn’t have the podium (or isn’t interested in the spotlight) and is quietly having a real impact, we want to spotlight their contributions and support their efforts.

What does being committed mean to you? Why is it so important?

Being committed means keeping your word, being dedicated and reliablewhether to a cause, a friendship or a healthy lifestyle. Commitment requires strength and courage, it’s not packing up and going home when it gets rough or challenging. Commitment requires resiliency. You fall, you regroup, you get back to it.

You are inspired by committed women around the world. Who are they, and why do they inspire you?

I have great admiration for the three women we’ve selected to receive the Simone Award this year. Hanli, Nathalie and Stori commit to their causes not just because it’s their passion, but because they truly want to have a positive impact on others and the world around them. Popular culture is very often focused on I, Me, Mine (point taken, George Harrison): what’s in it for me, how can I benefit, promote and advance myself? These women are the antithesis of that. I have so much respect for them – for any person – who looks outside of themselves and does things without expecting anything in return. The satisfaction of knowing they are making a difference is enough. Hanli, Nathalie and Stori do what they do without fanfare, recognition, or for Instagram likes; it’s just who they are. That’s inspiring.

What are your passions? What are you committed to?

I have tremendous respect for the artistry and complexity of winemaking; the dedication, the devotion it takes to tend a vineyard, to be a farmer essentially, and at nature’s whim. But Château de Pommard is more than a winery, a vineyard, a wine business – it’s a family of individual terroirs: Simone, Chantrerie, Les Paules, Grand Champ, 75 Rangs, Micault and Émilie that date back to the Benedictine monks who first started buying and planting plots in Burgundy. The clos walls that cross the landscape of the region and enclose the Château de Pommard vineyards were initially devised and constructed by the Cistercians in the 14th century. Following the monks were the powerful Dukes of Burgundy. Thomas Jefferson toured the region. Napoleon visited several times. There is so much fascinating history here, and I feel like our family is now part of what will be history. I suppose we are making history! For my part, I am committed to preserving, restoring, improving, maintaining and caring for a bit of French heritage in Burgundy that is Château de Pommard. It is a massive responsibility: these old vines, two chateaux, the clos walls – they don’t belong to us. They are part of France, always and forever. The vineyards of Burgundy, and all of our Clos Marey-Monge, are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and we are the caretakers and the guardians.

You live in San Francisco. How did you come to owning and renovating a French Château?

In 2013, we moved to Paris for a year with our sons. It was something Michael and I had always wanted to do. We thought it would be great for our kids and for us as a family to get out of our comfort zones, broaden our perspectives, and have new experiences. After years of talking about it, the timing was right for us to do it finally. A long term plan was to have a holiday home in France, and we had been looking, mostly in Provence. I envisioned pretty mas in sunny Provence, with robin’s egg blue shutters, lavender in the garden, a little orchard, a place where we could relax, hang out, and invite friends and family to do the same. 

One day, we saw a property just outside of Aix-en-Provence called Château de la Gaude. It was a magical place with 18th-century formal gardens, an orangery and chapel, and it was a working wine business. The château and other structures were a wreck, a beautiful wreck with so much potential, but the thought of owning and renovating a property like this was too stressful. Back in Paris, Michael started talking about wanting to have a vineyard, a wine business. I said “Whoa, hold on! We were looking for a holiday home.” His response was, “What am I going to do sitting around in the country?” But, the whole point of having a country home is to relax! “No, I can’t do that, that’s boring, I need to do something, I can’t just relax all day,” he said. It was Château de la Gaude that got him wanting to own and run a vineyard. He was hooked. And true to form, Michael had bigger ideas than making a rosé wine. So, it was bye-bye, relaxing country house. After looking for quite some years, he learned from a friend in Volnay that Château de Pommard might be for sale. It was an opportunity of a lifetime.

Within the clos walls surrounding the 20 hectares of vines are not one, but two châteaux. The Château Marey-Monge was built in 1802 for the home of the prominent Marey-Monge family. Subsequently, two other families owned it but was vacant since 2006 when the former propriétaire, Jean Laplanche, passed away. The larger Château Micault was constructed in 1726 by Vivant Micault, a secretary to Louis Quinze; it was vacant since the early 1900s. Both castles had been ransacked of their most valuable decoration; marble fireplaces, wall panelings, trumeau mirrors, parquet flooring, bathtubs, and chandeliers were stripped and sold off. On the second level, the original parquet flooring was ripped out and the raw wood beams were all that remained, with a mixture of soil and hay holding it all together. What was spared during the French Revolution was pillaged 200 years later. The upper levels were in the same condition and there were swallows flying around and nesting. So when we arrived in 2014, both châteaux were in desperate condition and not habitable, except for swallows. Without any intervention, these structures would have crumbed in 25 to 30 years. 

Back in San Francisco, my teenage sons were starting high school, and I didn’t have the time to travel to France and begin a renovation. Michael met with some architects, and again, and said: “Let’s just get started now, I don’t want to wait.” So, for four years, Michael traveled back and forth to Pommard to work on the wine business, oversee the renovation of Château Marey-Monge, and plan the renovation of the entire site. My sons and I spent the summers there. We worked long distance through conference calls and Slack, and we still do.

Is there any piece of it that you want to leave untouched?

Oh, it’s no secret that I would leave almost everything untouched, or try to reuse or refurbish instead of replacing. For the Château Marey-Monge, I didn’t want all the patina of time sandblasted off the facade stones and every crack fixed. I wanted to save the old glass window panes and wood floors. But so much was in disrepair and, in some cases, not safe, that simply refurbishing was not going to hold up over the next 50-plus years. So, where we have needed to replace things, we’ve made sure that we replicated the exact form of the original. Where new stones were installed to replace crumbling ones, we will age the new so that they blend in as much as possible with the old. We did save many old windows for the glass, the window hardware, most of the flooring, and an early 19th-century ceramic heater that was in the dining room of Château Marey-Monge. There are some late 19th-century paintings in the salon, painted directly on canvas applied to the walls. The canvas cannot be removed without the paint cracking and peeling off, so they are protected during the construction along with an original Directoire marble fireplace.

What did you find out about renovating a piece of French heritage?

I discovered that we, as Americans, are often more determined – committed – to save and preserve the past, the patrimony, than anyone. We expected the blue, white and red tape, the approvals required to renovate a listed historical property, even the shorter work week and much longer vacations (compared to the U.S.), but I find myself repeatedly reiterating the importance of saving things. To this day, I am dismayed by what was lost during the initial demolition work we did at Marey-Monge: 1930s sinks and plumbing, vintage Fortuny fabrics that were on the walls, carved woodwork that was not original but still lovely – these were tossed in the trash pile (or maybe sold, we’ll never know). They may not have been very valuable and I probably would not have reused them, but I know that someone would have used them, appreciated them; I would have found a home for these things. In the end though, I take responsibility for this because I wasn’t there when it happened and I wasn’t crystal clear what my expectations were.

This brings me to the most important lesson we learned: you have to be present, on-site, all the time. Michael and I knew this, having done other renovations and construction projects and I certainly experienced this, having worked on interior design projects for clients. But being 6,000 miles away is like being on the moon. It brings a different level of complexity, and it can be impossible to stay on top of the details. Seeing things in person, not just through photos or on video conference calls, is critical – even more so when it involves renovating an important, historical structure. If an electrical outlet is installed in the wrong place that can be fixed. If a worker scrapes off vintage wallpaper or haphazardly deconstructs an original, 200-year-old limestone well (yes, this happened), these mistakes can mean a bit of history is lost forever.

What do you like the most about the project?

I am in love with the Château Marey-Monge itself. I adore it, it’s simplicity, pureness, proportions, symmetry, the beautiful pink Chassagne stone. I love the many windows and their large scale. I love that you can see straight through the front door, through the back door and into the park beyond. It’s a very comfortable size, but the scale of the principal rooms is still grand and unique. Chateau Marey-Monge has an authentic formality that only an old house can possess and it has a grace about it that I so admire. It reminds me of the feel of the Petit Trianon, compared to the grandiose Versailles.

Chateau Marey-Monge was a great beauty that had been worn down by time and lack of proper care. The plumbing and electricity were very poorly installed and ‘upgraded’ over the years, almost DIY. Nothing had been done with quality in the past century. I understand why that was the case, because it costs a small fortune to renovate a building like this for it to last for another century. Previous owners didn’t have the means, and they did the best they could with the resources they had. It’s very satisfying to bring the château back to life (and the park, we haven’t even touched on that!). We are are committed to doing it properly, meticulously, proudly. I am happy to give the Château Marey-Monge the respect it deserves.

How do you see the Château (the place) FIVE years from now?

In five years I see Château Marey-Monge coming to life, welcoming friends and family, enjoying al fresco lunches, dinner parties followed by billiards or a game of cards. When people visit, they are on vacation in France, and so there will be fresh espresso, French teas and croissants for petit déjeuner served in the jardin d’hiver every morning. My vision is for life at Marey-Monge to be reminiscent of the early 19th century when it was built, an era where simple pleasures and pastimes are enjoyed and shared sans screens – music in the salon, reading in the cozy library, conversations over tea, croquet on the lawn during warm summer evenings, even staring into a glowing fire, lost in thought. In five years, I see the park and garden setting its roots, getting comfortable, but it will still be very young. I hope to have a potager and cutting gardens.

The château will always be a work in progress; it will never be “done.” It won’t be furnished all at one time. I won’t acquire something unless I love it. Who knows, maybe in five years we’ll still be serving dinner on a plastic folding table – a crisp linen tablecloth is all we’ll need. I love antiques, not museum-quality pieces, but pieces that are imperfect, that have had a visibly useful life. It takes time – and I want to take the time – to collect and assemble the right things. 


Do you know how it feels to be so dedicated to a cause that it consumes your whole being, your every waking moment, and all of your thoughts, even when the world says you’re crazy? You or someone you know may be our next Simone Awards recipient – maybe your neighbor, your cousin or your friend is among these selfless women committed to making a difference in the world. We are sure that all around the world there are many special women living this definition of commitment. Nominations for the Simone Awards 2024 are now open.

Stori Oates

“Our world today faces serious challenges, and we need more bright young minds collaborating on real scientific solutions.."


Stori is both a teacher and a wildlife biologist, starting her career at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center where she researched the health and disease of marine species throughout California. She is the Director of the Marin Academy Research Collaborative, a pioneering program in transdisciplinary education that gives students an opportunity to partner with the larger scientific community and work towards solving real-world problems. This two-year, multidisciplinary program engages a diverse group of students in cutting-edge science and engineering research that is characteristic of university-level courses.

Students generate a novel research question, conduct a rigorous literature review, collaborate with content-area experts, develop hypotheses, collect and analyze data, and learn how to present in public and publish their work. Many of these projects have far-reaching implications for the local community and improving the world around us. Students in the MARC program have investigated a wide range of topics including: scalable manufacturing methods to create graphene-based supercapacitors; the concern toward assets vulnerable to sea level rise; measuring the effects of lowered pH conditions on the growth and shell development of the Pacific mole crab Emerita analoga; and comparing protein sources available to yellow mealworms during biodegradation of polystyrene to increase lifespan and consumption rate of polystyrene – just to name a few.

In just three years, MARC has grown from a pilot with five students to a highly competitive program where students collaborate with mentors from a variety of institutions, government agencies, non-profits, and universities.

Our Interview with Stori

How DO you define the word “commitment”?

I define commitment as intention, focus, dedication and responsibility towards the goals, mission, and vision of my institution. Marin Academy asks every individual to think, question and create in an environment of encouragement and compassion, and challenges each person to accept the responsibilities posed by education in a democratic society. I am continually stretching myself to offer students the best and most cutting edge experiments and the most amazing and unique opportunities for independent research.

You’ve been involved with the Marin Academy Research Collaborative in San Rafael for four years now. Can you tell us more about your commitment? Why did you commit to this project in particular?

I have always been driven by my strong desires to innovate and lead in education, and  to confront barriers to equity and inclusion. The MARC program seeks to inspire students with a passion for research and discovery and promote enthusiasm, exploration, and academic excellence in an evolving global and scientific community.

Today’s complex, global, and interconnected world demands educated people to be able to think beyond traditional academic disciplines. My students are writers and scientists and mathematicians and artists. They are intellectual and creative. We are always pushing the boundaries. We are going beyond them, working toward a non-siloed curriculum independent of academic departments that centers on authentic and relevant issues that affect individuals and society. Our goal is to empower students to make connections across and between disciplines and to solve challenging dilemmas with no easy answers.

What/whom is most impacted by your cause? How do you measure the impact?

Women continue to be underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, comprising only 26% of that workforce as of 2011 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). Expanding opportunities for all students, especially young women, to explore real-world issues beyond the classroom through research, project-based learning, and collaboration is essential. To measure this impact, we can document the personal growth of students through design processes, reflections, and performance assessments. Have they become better communicators and critical thinkers? Are they more empathetic? Another way of measuring the impact is to look at the number of female applicants and participants. During the initial three cohorts of the MARC program, there has been a steady increase in the number of female applicants, with the percentage of female students increased from 40% during the first year to an average of 67% in subsequent years.

You are a teacher and scientist. How does your commitment reflect on your career?

Science is a significant part of human culture. We are surrounded by technology and the products of science every day. Public policy decisions that affect every aspect of our lives should be based in scientific evidence. As young women grow up in an increasingly technologically and scientifically advanced world, they need to be scientifically literate to succeed and to be the most engaged community members that they can be. As a researcher and field biologist, I always looked for opportunities to share my experiences and knowledge with others. By helping students develop their analytical faculties and a sense of responsibility to a world beyond themselves, I have been able to merge my commitment and career.

As a woman, how does your cause reflect on your personal life?

Science has traditionally been a male-dominated field. As a woman who has researched in the field of biology, I have gained an awareness of the structural biases that favor white males. In recent years, more women and people of color have pursued careers in science, but this number still lags behind white men. I also am aware of my whiteness and the privileges and opportunities it has given me. My goal as a teacher is to create a safe and successful learning environment for students from all areas of difference. I also believe that relating science to practical, civic, professional, recreational, and cultural events that are familiar and relevant to students’ backgrounds and experiences can motivate students, help them learn to value science and promote social justice.

What impact does it have on your day to day job?

I understand that the best education occurs in a learning environment that encourages many voices, drawn from different backgrounds and perspectives, including those who have been historically underrepresented in independent schools or within disciplines. Our learning culture has benefits beyond high school, instilling empathy, perspective, and self-awareness and the MARC program allows students to conduct the kind of original scientific research that most students will not have until they are in graduate school. The day to day is all about modeling for students and helping them build the habits of mind that will make them the best community members and scientists they can be.

Ten years from now, what goal do you want to have reached?

My most important goal is to guide the MARC program from its pilot stage into a fully articulated plan in which every student publishes their research upon completing the program. For that to happen, we will need to broaden our existing relationships with universities and summer internship programs and create endowed scholarships for students. With jobs and so many other commitments during the summer, it can be challenging for students to focus the necessary energy to complete and publish a scientific manuscript. Students should be able to complete their work and share their findings with interested agencies with the time and resources necessary to allow them to analyze further, interpret, and share their data without limitations or external constraints.

Ten years from now, I also hope to have expanded MARC into different disciplines (e.g., humanities, world languages).

What legacy do you intend to create with your commitment to your cause?

I want the MARC program to allow students to follow their interests and ask questions in a way that fosters independence and healthy risk-taking while offering support along the way. Our students are conducting research that will not only make a difference in their exact trajectory but the world around them. The more students we can provide the opportunity to do this type of work, the more we will be able to make an immediate impact on society and inspire young people to embark on careers in science.

Do you know how it feels to be so dedicated to a cause that it consumes your whole being, your every waking moment, and all of your thoughts—even when the world tells you, you’re crazy? You or someone you know may be our next recipient – maybe your neighbor, your cousin or your friend is among these selfless women committed to making a difference in the world. We are sure somewhere around the world; there are many special women living this definition of commitment. Nominations for the Simone Awards 2020 are now open.

Hanli Prinsloo

Photo Credit: Peter Marshall

Cape Town, South Africa

“Privilege for me is measured in a child’s access to water: from clean drinking water, to learning to swim, and finally experiencing the world below the blue surface."

Hanli Prinsloo, Founder & CEO of I AM WATER Foundation

In 2010, Hanli Prinsloo had already broken all of South Africa’s freediving records but diving up and down a rope to various depths was losing its appeal. The ocean had so much more to offer and she didn’t need another record to know her body was capable of diving down 65 meters. That’s when Hanli began using her body’s diving abilities to experience and interact with the whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, and other creatures that live in the ocean wilderness. Hanli’s encounters deepened her desire to take care of the oceans, and she wanted others to experience this connection as well.

This drive led to the founding of I AM WATER with the goal to build understanding of the interdependence of healthy humans and healthy oceans and to influence behaviors to protect our global seas. She began by working with youth in her hometown of Cape Town, South Africa and the more northern coastal city of Durban. Although these kids grew up near the ocean, they had very little ocean experience and knew very little about ocean life. Hanli has now helped more than 1,300 youth fall in love with the ocean and the seals and the kelp forest that are part of their local coastal ecosystems. From this point forward the I AM WATER movement began to spread, and today the I Am Water Team offers global ocean experiences. 

Our Interview with Hanli

How DO you define the word “commitment”?

For me, commitment is a combination of passion and grit. Being active in the non-profit world offers none of the more common rewards associated with success (money, fame etc.) but when you are deeply and truly driven by a purpose greater than yourself, in my case the conservation and appreciation of our oceans, then through true commitment (grit and passion!) you achieve your goals.

You’ve been involved with I AM WATER Ocean Conservation in South Africa for eight years now. Can you tell us more about your commitment? Why did you commit to this project in particular?

I founded I AM WATER in 2010 with the burning desire to see more of my fellow South Africans get to experience our incredible ocean. I believe that we protect what we love, yet so few South Africans ever get to see the ocean and what she holds – so how can we expect a conservation-mindedness when there is no experience, let alone love!

What/whom is most impacted by your cause? How do you measure the impact?

In South Africa access to the ocean and swimming skills are divided straight down the color line, white South Africans have grown up with access to swimming pools, beaches, swim schools or family members who have taught us swimmingwhile most black South Africans have very little access to the ocean. A deep fear of water is common in many communities. Our Ocean Guardians workshops work with Grade 7 students from schools in low-income communities where learners live less than five kilometers from the beach but have never seen what the ocean has to offer. We host two-day ocean education, mindfulness and snorkeling workshops where the Grade 7’s get to explore the rocky shores, learn about their breathing and their bodies’ incredible adaptation to water and of course – snorkel! Seeing their eyes open underwater for the first time is the most rewarding thing! We measure impact not only by how many learners get to experience our ocean immersion workshops, but also by what affect it has on them.

You are a freediver, storyteller and social entrepreneur. How does your commitment reflect on your career?

I have crafted a career for myself based on the things I treasure most in life, and there is no course in university to study what I do from day to day. My unwavering commitment to our ocean has shaped how I use my talents and skills to achieve the greatest impact.

As a woman, how does your cause reflect on your personal life?

I’ve always put my work and my passion firstmaybe this has led me to leave thoughts of a family for rather late in life? But in every other way, I don’t feel that being a woman has had a significant impact on how I have chosen to do life.

What impact does it have on your day to day job?

From weeks on remote islands hosting freediving trips to long days on the beach helping children overcome their fears, to staggering around in high heels at important events no two days of my job look the same! I love this diversity and the challenge of always asking ‘is this the best thing I can do with this day?

Ten years from now, what goal do you want to have reached?

I want I AM WATER to be a secure and widely impactful organization with a solid leadership team. I want to see some of my ideas put down in the books I never get time to write, and I want to be still spending many, many days in and underwater.

What legacy do you intend to create with your commitment to your cause?

In whatever way I can, I want to have played a significant role in the protection of our oceans through I AM WATER but also through advocacy and awareness. I want to be remembered as someone who lived and breathed the ocean.


Do you know how it feels to be so dedicated to a cause that it consumes your whole being, your every waking moment, and all of your thoughts—even when the world tells you, you’re crazy? You or someone you know may be our next recipient – maybe your neighbor, your cousin or your friend is among these selfless women committed to making a difference in the world. We are sure somewhere around the world; there are many special women living this definition of commitment. Nominations for the Simone Awards 2020 are now open.