With Remi Cohen in the role of director of winemaking and viticulture, Cliff Lede has a farmer in charge. Considering Remi’s background in viticulture and sustainable vineyard management, the new approach dovetails nicely with the winery’s emphasis on top quality vineyards and terroir-based wines.“Wine is made in the vineyard,” she says. “That’s why a commitment to farming the right way is critical in the process of making great wine.” If anybody understands the importance of farming to winemaking, it’s Remi. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley where she studied biology, she received her master’s degree in Viticulture and Enology from the University of California, Davis, and subsequently completed her MBA at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. At Davis, the East Brunswick, New Jersey native fell in love with the winegrowing process and moved to Napa to dive into the wine industry. At Saintsbury Winery, in Carneros, she had the opportunity to experience the entire winemaking process from the vineyard through hands-on winemaking. At Bouchaine Vineyards, in southern Napa Valley, she worked in both winegrowing, and sales and marketing. At Merryvale Vineyards, she was vice president of operations with a focus on winegrowing. After Merryvale, Remi founded her own viticultural advising firm, Vines to Wine. Here, she specialized in environmentally-focused farming programs that enhanced wine quality at a number of big-label Napa wineries. She also embraced sustainability as a viable farming method, and has become an industry leader on the subject. “I come from the perspective of the vines. For me, winemaking is an expression of our unique and celebrated terroir with respect to the environment,” Remi notes. In her role at Cliff Lede Vineyards, Remi applies this philosophy religiously, proving that a viticulturist at the head of a winemaking effort can make a huge difference. She says she enjoys working with winemaker Chris Tynan and the vineyard team to “express the land and express the season,” encouraging everyone to take ownership of the glorious Stags Leap terroir along the way. Of course on a day-to-day basis, the easiest way to find Remi in the vineyards at CLV is to look for her signature hat. Because she spends the majority of every workday amid the vines, Cohen has taken to wearing an oversized Solumbra hat to protect her from the sun. The hat makes a statement—just like Remi herself!
“Wine is made in the vineyard,” she says. “That’s why a commitment to farming the right way is critical in the process of making great wine.”