Leadership of Pahlmeyer Winery has passed to the second generation, with Jayson Pahlmeyer appointing his daughter, Cleo, as president, the luxury-tier Napa Valley vintner announced Wednesday.
The founder Pahlmeyer had appointed Brian Hilliard as president in February 2012 as part of a business-succession plan, Jayson Pahlmeyer told North Bay Business Journal in 2015. Hilliard started as chief operating officer for Sebastopol-based luxury pinot noir specialist Kosta Browne Winery earlier this month.
Cleo Pahlmeyer, 34, has been working at the 30-year-old winery since 2008 and moved into her new role in March.
The company produces the brands Pahlmeyer, Jayson and Wayfarer and owns estate vineyards in Napa Valley’s Atlas Peak appellation and in the Sonoma Coast region.
“This is a wonderful moment in my life as both a vintner and a father,” remarks Jayson Pahlmeyer. “Cleo has diligently worked to learn all aspects of the business. She is a tremendous asset to our family company with her poise, professionalism, drive and enthusiasm.”
Cleo Pahlmeyer started in sales and customer service at the winery. She moved into managing direct-to-consumer sales and marketing then communications and public relations. She is credited with helping develop and launch Wayfarer pinot noir and chardonnay wines in 2014. They’re made from grapes grown in a 17-year-old estate vineyard in the Fort Ross-Seaview appellation.
“My father’s vision and passion have driven our success for more than 30 years,” said Cleo Pahlmeyer. “With the support of an incredibly talented and dedicated team, I am honored to continue Pahlmeyer’s legacy of iconic wines and be a steward to our exceptional estate vineyards.”
Part of the transition has been shifts in key responsibilities last year. Jayson Pahlmeyer passed winemaking responsibility for the Pahlmeyer and Jayson wines to Bibiana González Rave, winemaker and director of winegrowing for Wayfarer since 2012. Trained in France, González Rave came to California in 2008 and joined Pahlmeyer to make Wayfarer’s first vintage.
Tim Hay was promoted to vice president of finance and operations, and Brian Kelleher to vice president of sales and marketing. Both joined Pahlmeyer in 2012 and have been heavily involved in the expanding the winery’s success over the last several years.
Cleo Pahlmeyer lives in Napa with her husband, Jamie Watson, and their two children. A partner at Napa-based law firm Gaw Van Male, Watson helped structure the Pahlmeyer succession plan, which included a gift to Jayson Pahlmeyer’s wife, Paige, to Cleo and to his two sons. Watson and the Pahlmeyers described the process at a Business Journal succession-planning event in Napa on May 21, 2015.