A common feature of many independently owned wineries on the California North Coast is family involvement. And what's noticeable in North Bay Business Journal's look this year at 20 leaders of such businesses is the rise of the next generation to top executive posts.
What also stands out is the rise of women in this new crop of leadership at local family-run vintners. That includes Suzanne Groth, Violet Grgich, Ariana Peju White and Whitehall Lane's Katie Leonardini.
This report focuses on vintners that made the Business Journal's list of independent wineries, published March 5. The leaders are listed alphabetically by winery.
Proprietor, Barra of Mendocino
7051 N. State St., Redwood Valley 95470
Charlie Barra, 92, is a pioneer in Mendocino County organic winemaking. In 1955 he purchased Redwood Valley Vineyards, with 175 acres of vines at the headwaters of the Russian River.
The wine company started in 1997 amid a downturn in the winegrape business. It produces about 20,000 cases annually.
Stepson Shawn Harmon left a 10-year career in civil engineering in 2002 to handle finances of the wine business. Now he also oversees operations of the 300-acre vineyard business, the winery and custom winemaking by Redwood Valley Cellars.
Chairman, Chappellet Winery
1581 Sage Canyon Road, St. Helena 94574
Cyril Chappellet, oldest son of winery founders Donn and Molly, was elected chairman of the winery’s family-run board of directors in 2012. He was the only person other than his father, who died in 2016, to hold that position since the winery started in 1967.
He studied farm management at California Polytechnic University and earned a business degree from Pepperdine University.
He began a career outside the wine business, at his parents’ suggestion, in corporate planning and acquisitions. In 1988, after nearly a decade of honing his business skills, Cyril Chappellet returned to the winery in the Pritchard Hill area near St. Helena.
Kim Stare Wallace
President, Dry Creek Vineyard
3770 Lambert Bridge Road, Healdsburg 95448
Kim Stare Wallace became president of the 100,000-case-a-year winery in 2012. Her husband, Don, had been president since 2006 on the retirement of her father, David Stare, founder of the first new winery in Dry Creek Valley since Prohibition. The ranch includes 200 estate acres of vines.
In January, the Sonoma County winery made a big investment in creating its own salesforce, hiring five representatives to serve regions across the country.
“In a world of increasing consolidation, I am proud that Dry Creek Vineyard has remained one of the last truly private, family-owned, iconic wineries consistently producing 90-plus-point wines,” Stare Wallace said.
Dry Creek Vineyard was selected as the official wine of the Louis Vuitton America’s 2016 Cup World Series. With a sailboat on its label, the winery has a 40-year history of backing sailing events.
Last year, the winery received a patent for printing sustainable-sourcing information on its corks. In 2018, the winery received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for a sixth straight year.
In this report
Listed alphabetically by winery
Charlie Barra, Barra of Mendocino
Cyril Chappellet, Chappellet Winery
Kim Stare Wallace, Dry Creek Vineyard
Tracy Dutton, Dutton Estate Winery
Violet Grgich, Grgich Hills Estate
Suzanne Groth, Groth Vineyards & Winery
Joy Sterling, Iron Horse Vineyards
Will Jarvis, Jarvis Estate
John Jordan, Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Merry Edwards, Merry Edwards Winery
René Schlatter, Merryvale Family of Wines
Jim Pedroncelli, Pedroncelli Winery
Ariana Peju White, Peju Province Winery
Ron Rubin, Ron Rubin Winery
Hugh Davies, Schramsberg Vineyards
Axel Schug, Schug Carneros Estate Winery
Art Seavey and Dorie Seavey, Seavey Vineyard
Jon Ruel, Trefethen Family Vineyards
Richard Bruno and Chris Condos, Vinum Cellars
Katie Leonardini, Whitehall Lane Winery