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Appellation St. Helena announces new board

From the Napa Valley Wine Insider Digest: Jan. 30, 2021 series
  • Updated
Katie Hayne Simpson

Katie Hayne Simpson

Appellation St. Helena has announced new board members and positions as the new year begins.

This year’s board officers announced Jan. 20 are Katie Simpson, President; Seth Goldfarb, Secretary; and Claire Hobday, CFO.

The outgoing Board President is Lesley Russell, who served in that position for the last five years.

“It has been a pleasure to work closely with such an outstanding group of vintners and growers,” Russell said. She is responsible for all operations and strategic direction of Saint Helena Winery, a small private estate winery in Napa Valley whose wines are made by Aaron Pott and Lindsey Wallingford.

Incoming Board President Katie Hayne Simpson, owner of Chase Cellars in St. Helena, has served on the Board for one and a half years.

“I look forward to helping spotlighting ASH member efforts, and stimulating more interest in St Helena wines and vineyards,” Simpson said.

Chase Cellars sits on the Hayne Vineyard, which has been in Katie Hayne Simpson’s family since 1872. Simpson has been handling day-to-day operations since 2012. She’s committed to carrying on her family’s rich legacy in the Napa Valley by producing premium wines from the family’s and other choice Napa vineyards. Wines are made by Russell Bevan.

The Board Secretary is Seth Goldfarb, who is the general manager at Anomaly Vineyards in St. Helena. The Board CFO is Claire Hobday, the CFO at C. Mondavi & Sons in St. Helena.

New to the Board are Sylvia Taplin, Taplin Vineyards; and Julia Jinks, Raymond Vineyards.

The Board consists of Myriah Mutrux, Hall Wines; George Watson, One Vineyard; Seth Goldfarb, Anomaly Vineyards; Claire Hobday, Charles Krug; Jack Pagendarm, Korte Ranch; Lesley Russell, Saint Helena Winery; Julia Jinks, Raymond Vineyards; Dave Yewell, Yewell Family Vineyards; Torey Battuello, Battuello Vineyards; Eric Risch, Pellet Estate; Shannon Salvestrin, Salvestrin Winery; Sylvia Taplin, Taplin Vineyards; and Katie Simpson, Chase Cellars.

In 2004, the vintners who had worked together to get the American Viticultural Area (AVA) approved established a group to promote the growing region, today called Appellation St. Helena. The group focuses on promoting the quality of grapes grown and wines produced in the St. Helena AVA and consists of 50 winery members and 25 grapegrowers.

In recent years, the organization has organized an annual fundraiser, given money for scholarships to students at St. Helena High School and been active in other programs in the St. Helena community.

The St. Helena appellation is comprised of roughly 12,000 acres, of which approximately 6,800 are planted to grapes, more than any other AVA in the Napa Valley. More than 400 different vineyards are located within the appellation. The boundaries form an hourglass shape, and the middle section represents the narrowest width in the Napa Valley, where the Mayacamas and Vaca Mountain ranges nearly meet. The AVA is a mosaic of alluvial fans and 21 different soil types. The soils here are created from centuries of erosion of run-off from mountain hillsides and the Napa River and its ancient tributaries.

Grapegrowing in the St. Helena appellation dates back to the Mexican land grants in the 1840s when General Vallejo gave Edward Bale a wedding gift of property. Bale and his bride promptly planted vineyard on their property. By 1880, over 100 people were making wine in St. Helena. While many types of grapes excel in St. Helena, the most frequently cultivated are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Sauvignon Blanc.

St. Helena has the distinction of being the birthplace of Napa Valley’s commercial wine industry with Dr. George Belden Crane’s cellar founded in 1859, David Fulton’s in 1860 and Charles Krug’s in 1861. The St. Helena American Viticultural Area, or appellation, was officially approved in 1995, its boundaries defined by Zinfandel Lane to the south, Bale Lane to the north, the intersection of Howell Mountain and Conn Valley Road to the east, and the 400-foot elevation line of the Mayacamas Mountain range to the west.

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