This past fall, the 240 attendees at our Transitions West conference, held in Phoenix, Ariz., were treated to a spellbinding presentation by renowned winemaker Jean-Charles Boisset of the Boisset Collection. A dynamic and debonair Frenchman, Jean-Charles leads his family firm, which encompasses wineries from Burgundy (where he was born) and the South of France as well as California's Napa Valley and Russian River Valley.
Building on his love of wine and respect for his winemaking heritage, Jean-Charles instituted organic and biodynamic farming at the family's vineyards. He also has been incredibly entrepreneurial, both in France and in California.
Jean-Charles and his sister, Nathalie, spent eight years developing the family's U.S. business and then united the family's French vineyards in the Côte-de-Nuits and Côte-de-Beaune under a single estate, Domaine de la Vougeraie.
Jean-Charles, who is listed as one of the 50 most important people in the wine world, joined together with another winemaking dynasty when he married Gina Gallo, whose family was featured on the cover of Family Business Magazine's Autumn 2008 issue.
At Transitions, Jean-Charles spoke passionately about how he, at the early age of 11, developed a love of winemaking in addition to a love for California and everything American. This enthusiasm was derived from travels with his grandparents, who felt very strongly that America presented a golden opportunity for all who worked hard. They took him west and introduced him to California wines, which made such an impression on him that he vowed to return and make his mark in the Golden State. He also vowed to eventually make Buena Vista Winery, California's first premium winery, part of his collection, a feat he accomplished in 2011.
I was most impressed by Jean-Charles' wonderful and colorful delivery, as well as by the power and impact his grandparents had on his life. I began to reflect on my own grandparents. One of my grandmothers was born in 1886 in Missouri; one of my grandfathers came to this country from Germany in 1903 to work with his cousins in the grain business. Their emphasis on family, history, the arts, reading and philanthropy set a standard for me that has endured. Perhaps the fact that my grandmother was a fervent Suffragette at the turn of the century fueled my passion for publishing and influenced my decision to found a community newspaper.
Watching my own boys learn lessons from their grandfathers has been a real pleasure. My father-in-law, Milton L. Rock, who founded this magazine, instilled a feeling of optimism, integrity and a consummate work ethic in our sons. And my father, the ultimate Renaissance man, focused on a love of history, community and the arts. They both stressed the importance of a happy and successful marriage. Bob and I celebrated our 41st anniversary this past December, and we revel in the thought of our parents' heritage playing out in the next generation.
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