Franciscan Estate names new winemaker

Marla Carroll has been named winemaker for Franciscan Estate Winery in St. Helena. She joins director of winemaking Janet Myers and winemaker Jay Turnipseed to round out the Franciscan team.

A native of California, Carroll grew up the Central Valley. She studied biotechnology at UC Davis with a concentration in enology and fermentation science.

She began working at Charles Krug Winery in 2002 and in 2004 accepted a position with Franciscan Estate, spending seven years in a series of roles, including enologist and assistant winemaker.

Gentry becomes marketing manager at Oakville Ranch Vineyards

Mary Miner, owner of Oakville Ranch Vineyards and Winery, is expanding her role at the property she purchased with her late husband, Bob Miner, in 1989.

A native of England, Miner has always been involved with the business affairs of Oakville Ranch. However, she is now taking a more active role in guiding the boutique wine label. Towards that end, Miner has hired Shelia Gentry, formerly of Harlan Estate, as the estate’s new sales and marketing manager.

“The quality of the wine has always been there, and the ranch and vineyards have never been in better condition,” Miner noted in a press release. “It is now time to bring the identity of the winery up to par with the singular beauty of the property and wine itself. Shelia will be instrumental in that effort.”

Oakville Ranch will continue to produce a limited amount of estate wines. The remainder of the certified organic 66-acre vineyard’s yield will be sold to top wineries throughout Napa Valley. However, there will not be any fruit available from the upcoming 2013 harvest.

“I am excited to collaborate with Mary and viticulturist Phil Coturri to showcase this amazing property in every bottle of Oakville Ranch wine,” noted winemaker Anne Vawter. “We are fortunate to have this vineyard to work with and an owner who is dedicated to its success.”

Oakville Ranch is a 350-acre estate on the east side of the Oakville Appellation, 1,500 feet above the valley floor. Some of the estate’s original plantings date to the early 20th century. The winery is known for cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and a traditional red field blend.


Meet the Women for WineSense Wine industry experts

The Napa|Sonoma Women for WineSense chapter kicks off its 2013 professional member career development program with a daytime leadership seminar on June 6 at Chimney Rock Winery in Napa.

Geni Whitehouse of Brotemarkle, Davis & Co. LLP in St. Helena, will lead the event, “Discover Your Own Brand,” through seminar presentations and exercises to help attendees build their own brands. A continental breakfast, lunch and wine is included.

Other presenters include Margaret Martin, Women for WineSense development director; Susan DeMatei, owner of Wine Glass Marketing in Napa; Cindy Deutsch from TGIC Importers, Inc.; Karen Jess-Lindsley, CEO of Lindsley Lighting and Julie Johnson, winemaker and vintner of Tres Sabores Winery and co-founder of Women for WineSense.

These members will be donating their personal time for silent auction of expert sessions. Winning bidders will pay $75 per session with the “expert” of choice. One hundred percent of the auction’s proceeds go to the chapter’s scholarship fund.

The chapter allocated $4,000 in scholarships in 2012 to four students enrolled in wine/viticulture studies at UC Davis, Sonoma State University, Napa Valley College and Santa Rosa Junior College. In 2013, the chapter hopes to increase that amount to more than $5,000.

Upcoming Napa|Sonoma chapter Women for WineSense events include “WWS Presents ‘Nose’ at Ram’s Gate Winery” at Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma on June 27; “Connect with the WWS Community” at Napa Style in Yountville on Aug. 15; “Women in Wine” at Buena Vista Historical Winery in Sonoma on Sept. 12; and “Wine on America’s Holiday Table” on Dec. 12.

Tickets for this limited-seating event are $79 and may be purchased at or call 707 996-8740.

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Spelletich opens tasting room

Spelletich Family Wine Company and Crush94 recently moved its headquarters into a new 16,000-square-foot facility in the Napa Commons in south Napa, 10 minutes from downtown.

Spelletich adds to the expanding wine-centric neighborhood that includes Patz & Hall, Trinitas Cellars and Falcor, and is within walking distance from the Meritage Resort and Spa.

Daguerreotype-like photographs fill the modern tasting room that will accommodate groups and large functions.

The Spelletich Family released its first wine in 1994. Now the family produces four different brands: Spelletich Cellars, 3 Spells, SPELLwine and Prix Fixe, all small lots.

The new tasting room will be open seven days a week by appointment only with different levels of tastings, one being a spice-infused chocolate and wine pairing.

For more information, cal 707-775-7300 or email

A Sofia chardonnay

Corey Beck, director of winemaking and general manager of Francis Ford Coppola Winery, has announced the launch of the newest addition to the Sofia label, a 2012 chardonnay from Monterey County, which debuted May 12.

The tradition of Sofia wines originated with the sparkling Blanc de Blancs, a gift from Francis Ford Coppola to his daughter, Sofia. Over the years, the Sofia collection has grown to incorporate Sofia Minis in 187 mililiter cans, riesling and rosé.

The new wine is a blend of 75 percent chardonnay and 25 percent pinot blanc and sells for $19. For information, visit