The French investors continue: Mumm Napa; Domaine Chandon; Domaine Carneros; St.Supery; Opus One; and, now, Araujo Vineyards are all owned in whole or in partly French companies. The Araujo property which includes the winery, its existing stock and the famed 38-acre Eisele vineyard is in the process of being purchased by billionaire, Francois Pinualt, who also owns Chateau Latour in Bordeaux, Chateau Grillet in the Rhone Valley and Domaine Eugenie in Burgundy (which is a pretty impressive fistful of properties, eh?). No price of the Aujaro property has been announced, but speculation is that it is about $300,000 per acre … you do the math for the possible purchase price, which probably does not include unplanted acreage.


Did you catch the July 10 Wall Street Journal’s spread titled Napa Valley’s Grand Dame Downsizes, an impressive article with photos? The Grand Dame, of course, is Margrit Mondavi, who has moved into her new digs in Napa “on a site off a narrow, winding road on a hillside overlooking the Napa Valley.”

The property and completely rebuilt home is smaller than the Mondavi’s home on Wappo Hill (which is now owned by Jean Charles Boisset and his wife, Gina Gallo Boisset) but retains all of the charm and memories that define the life of the Grand Dame.


Another news story was the San Francisco Chronicle’s July 21, three-page spread on St. Helena maverick winemaker John Kongsgaard, which covered his career from his college days to the present.

As the article’s author, Jon Bonné, writes: For three decades, Kongsgaard has rewritten the rules for making white wines. His secret is to make his chardonnays as they did in Burgundy 50 years ago using a very small amount of the preservative, sulfur dioxide, and long fermentation, using ambient yeasts (he uses no commercial yeasts).

Initially,his wines are cloudy and dark brown. But then a “resurrection” happens and the wine clears up to a golden liquid. John sources his fruit from two of the most famous vineyards in the Carneros area of Napa Valley, Larry Hyde’s and Lee Hudson’s vineyards.


As long as you are around and about, you really should stop by Peju Provence. The winery gardens are a showcase of beautiful marble statuary, fountains and walkways lined with carefully honed hedges. The winery features art exhibits that change every few months. Last Saturday, a new exhibition opened, featuring dramatic photographic images of the scenery and the people in the Himalayas by Richard Christiani, and Tibetan-style paintings by artist Rosalyn White. Both were there to comment on their works. Christiani’s wife, Linnea, accompanies him on his many treks in the Himalayas. Profits from sales of the art are donated to the Tibetan Aid Project.


Last week at a London auction, a case of 1978 Chateau Petrus sold for $41,500 ($3,458 a bottle), which is some kind of record, when one thinks of the good that this money could have done.


The Napa/Sonoma chapter of Women for Wine Sense will host a professional networking event open to the public at VGS Chateau Potelle in St. Helena on Thursday, Aug. 15 from 5:30-8 p.m.

CABOOSE ITEM: “You are what you eat. For example, if you eat garlic you’re apt to be a hermit.” Franklin P. Jones

George Starke may be reached at, or by phone at (707) 942-0733.

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