Philippine de Rothschild, Grande Dame of Wine, Dies at 80

Philippine de Rothschild, an energetic and self-certain grande dame of Bordeaux wine who halted an acting career to run vineyards owned by the family dynasty, has died, her company said Sunday. She was 80. She died Friday in a Paris "from the effects of a serious operation", winemaker Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA said in a statement, without specifying further.

De Rothschild, who cracked a male-dominated wine industry to become company chairwoman and was known by many as simply "The Baroness," understood the ups and downs of bearing one of Europe's best-known family names: As a girl in Nazi-occupied France, she used her mother's maiden name; as a professional actress, she took a stage name.

In business, she used an actor's engaging demeanor. With a raspy voice, she was unafraid to speak her mind and was equally at ease in English and French. She had a penchant for thick earrings and heavy necklaces. Mouton Cadet, one of the company's wines, is recognized well beyond the rarefied world of connoisseurs. She maintained Baron Philippe de Rothschild's Opus One venture with Robert Mondavi, an alliance of New World vigor and Old World knowhow. Twice married, she is survived by two sons, a daughter and grandchildren. A funeral is planned Sept. 1 in southwestern Pauillac, said company CEO Hugues Lechanoine.

Image: French Baroness Philippine de Rothschild dies aged 80
A file picture dated 23 February 2007 shows French Baroness Philippine de Rothschild during an exhibit of Chateau Mouton Rothschild wines and their artist-rendered labels at Sotheby's in New York, USA. According to media reports on 23 August 2014, the Baroness died aged 80. JUSTIN LANE / EPA file

- The Associated Press