It all started like a fairytale…
Gina Gallo, the smart, dynamic off-spring of the California dynasty and Jean-Charles Boisset, the smart, dynamic off-spring of the French wine dynasty fall in love. The couple share a passion for family, food, celebration and wine.
Right before he proposed, Jean-Charles had begun buying special wineries in Northern California for a specific purpose (more on that later). I met them in May 2011 at Raymond Vineyards, his latest acquisition at the time.
Jean-Charles is vibrant, excited, and talkative. He loves using words like sexy, divine, and sensuous to describe life. He is a passionate individual and by all accounts, a super savvy and proven businessman. Gina just did a quick pass-through on her way somewhere else and looked amazingly fit for a woman who gave birth to twin girls two weeks later.
It’s not far-fetched to wonder if this too-perfectly-matched marriage is merely for convenience, but surprise, it is the real deal. I read somewhere that Jean-Charles knew Gina was the one the first day he met her. After all, they share common experiences and views of the world, so why not?
After spending an afternoon with Jean-Charles (JC), I believe Gina and JC are quite alike. This quote from Gina is almost identical to the way JC talks about wine: “Wine is pleasure. It has to be beautiful to look at, beautiful to smell, and astonishing to taste. I don’t make obvious wines. I like depth. I like a little mystery, but I want some ‘wow!’ in there somewhere, too. Wine should make you smile.” San Francisco Bride’s Magazine
The second chapter in the fairy tale is Jean-Charles’ empire-building in California. He currently owns three California estates, Deloach in the Russian River AVA, Buena Vista in the Carneros region and Raymond in Napa Valley. Each are iconic historical wineries that showcase the terrior of their regions. Jean-Charles has an intriguing reason for buying these particular estates. He says his plan is to make great wines from these places and bring them to France to prove that great wine can be made in California. I love the sentiment and the fact that it is coming from a French man.
The three wineries are traditional favorites for visitors but I encourage you to revisit them. Raymond is newly exciting for a few reasons, first Stephanie Putnam (formerly of the Napa Valley cult winery Far Niente) is the new Director of Winemaking and has brought excellence to the Raymond wines. Additionally, Jean-Charles has gone crazy decorating the place. Years ago, I went on a media tour and was shown a tiny lab and a drab barrel room. That space is now (literally) a party tasting bar with fashionable mannequins staring down from the catwalk and a Baccarat crystal store headlined by a (priceless?) crystal chandelier.
If you really love the fun life, score an invite to the JCB room (pictured above) and sip Jean-Charles’ impressive (limited quantity) private label, JCB, while lounging on gold lamé couches, with Michael Jackson videos on the big screen. You’ll look sexy and divine in the real candlelit wall sconces and yes, your wine will be enjoyed with the added sensuousness of Baccarat crystal decanters and glasses.