I often find myself thinking that once we get past our current project or challenge things will calm down and get back to normal. That may be true someday but for now accomplishing one task just means that we can start trying to catch up to the next one. Case in point, our new visitor center, Hirondelle House. We just wrapped up construction and all of a sudden we are in the middle of harvest. Fortunately for us we have a team here that can tackle the challenges of a new visitor center, deal with harvest while construction crews still swarm the site, pay attention to the budgeting process for next year and still find time to have a company BBQ and laugh.
Photo by Rocco Studio
People often ask what we do in the slow season. Slow season? I haven’t experienced one of those yet but hope springs eternal and I’m looking forward to running into it when it happens. Did I say run? Maybe that’s my problem, I’m always running to catch up. Since things aren’t likely to slow down anytime soon though, we better enjoy the pace and enjoy what we do and who we do it with, as I do. Making great wines with a great team and welcoming our guests to Hirondelle House to share these wines really is our reward.
Photo by Rocco Studio
I’m excited to announce that Hirondelle House is now open. We can’t wait for you to visit and experience our pride and joy.
The last two weeks at Clos Du Val have been exciting to say the least. From scrambling to get our new visitor home, the Hirondelle House, ready for its grand opening party, to hosting the world premiere screening of ‘Somm 3’, the latest installment in the Somm trilogy, to actually bringing in the first grapes of the 2018 harvest, this place has been abuzz with activity.
Photo by David Dines
Photo by David Dines
The team at Clos Du Val possesses an incredible ‘can-do’ attitude and never was it more on display. From James, Javier and the team in the cellar completely re-configuring a barrel chai into a movie theater (during harvest!), to Laura and Scott and their member & guest services crew mopping floors, buffing mirrors and greeting guests, to the finance/admin team checking people in and pouring wine, to the cellar team and interns who were asked to move furniture after they had spent the day crushing grapes, these people all pulled together with big smiles and a great spirit to make it all work.
Photo by David Dines
I thought that we were asking too much but once again, the Clos Du Val team made the impossible happen. I couldn't be prouder of this group of incredible individuals and am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead them every day.
We’re so close to finalizing all of the tiny details of our (already) beloved Hirondelle House and it’s even better than I think any of us could have ever imagined. After many hours. . . days. . . months. . . YEARS of planning, I think we’ve ended up with a place that not only seems perfect for Clos Du Val, but also feels like home. As I walk through the space, I see a place where many friends will be met, stories shared, and bottles wrapped up to make their way into our guests’ homes to mark their own special celebrations, whether making it through a tough weekday or toasting a momentous occasion.
Just two weeks ago, if you were able to peek into the space, you’d never believe what it looks like today. There were ladders up, tools scattered, fixtures missing and regular, necessary meetings to ensure everything kept pace (a couple of make-shift beverage carts at the end of shifts also didn’t hurt!).
The past few days, it’s been all hands-on-deck to help our amazing interior design teams put everything in place and looking its best. I snapped a few photos at the end of the day yesterday and found that I couldn’t even begin to find a “favorite” spot in the building, as every spot is stunning.
So, while it’ll still be a couple of weeks until we’re able to open our new doors to our guests, the finish line is now very visible, and we could not be more excited to share it with you.
It’s been over four years (July 28, 2014) since I took the reins here at Clos Du Val. Having grown up here in the Napa Valley, I always saw Clos Du Val as one of the Valley’s great treasures. As a 14-year-old in 1976, I remember reading the story in the local newspaper about the Judgment of Paris and how Clos Du Val was one of the wineries selected for participation in this groundbreaking event. This family-owned winery is truly a part of the fabric of the Napa Valley and I am honored and humbled to be working with a team of incredibly dedicated colleagues to position it for the next 45 years.
One of the great challenges in stewarding a historic producer is finding ways to maintain relevance to the consumer and at the same time, preserve the authenticity which defines the legacy. There are over 10,000 wines and over 100,000 individual wines vying for your attention. Can you imagine 100,000 options of dishwashing liquid or toilet paper? The competitive ‘noise’ in the wine industry is deafening, which makes it difficult for small independent wineries to get noticed over the larger corporate brands with large marketing budgets. The next time you walk down the wine aisle in your favorite store, pay attention to the screams from the shelves and I think you’ll see my point.
At Clos Du Val, we’ve chosen a different path. History and heritage are impossible to create – you either have them or you don’t. We’re immersed in this every day, whether it be Javier, Enrique and Lucio (the core of our cellar crew with over 30 years of tenure each at Clos Du Val), Bernard Portet (our founding winemaker) popping by for a tasting, our extensive cellar of wines dating back into the 1970s, or our incredible vineyards that we developed in 1972 from pasture land, you ‘feel’ the history and heritage here. This is the ‘real’ Napa Valley and this is who and what Clos Du Val is.
So, while we’ve chosen to evolve around the Goelet family’s (our owners) original vision upon which they founded the winery some 46 years ago – the crafting of the world’s finest estate-based wines, we’ve expanded this idea to include providing the world’s finest experiences. Most recently, we’ve created a hospitality space (you NEED to visit our new ‘Hirondelle House at Clos Du Val’ once it's been opened next month) that’s informed and defined by our inherent authenticity. You’ll feel and taste our evolution in the warm, personal, gracious hospitality, delicious wines and the history that is Clos Du Val when you visit us. So whether you experience Clos Du Val at your favorite restaurant, at home with friends, or here at the winery, I hope that you’ll see why we’ve chosen the road less traveled and stayed true to who we are. Hope to see you at the winery soon!