Honorary Chairs for Sonoma Wine Country Weekend are selected for their community leadership and commitment to their craft, be it grape-growing, winemaking, or culinary endeavors.
Honorary Vintner Chairs
Jean-Charles Boisset, Buena Vista Winery | DeLoach Vineyards
Jean-Charles Boisset was born into the world of wine in the village of Vougeot, Burgundy, France. His lifelong passion for wine began as a child, growing up above the cellars and within view of the centuries-old vineyards of Château du Clos Vougeot, the epicenter and birthplace of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
His parents, Jean-Claude and Claudine, founded the family winery in 1961 with an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit in one of the most traditional winegrowing regions in the world. Today, the family collection includes wineries that share more than 18 centuries of combined winemaking heritage and tradition in some of the world’s most prestigious terroirs, from Burgundy to the South of France, to California’s Napa Valley and Russian River Valley.
Jean-Charles leads the family firm with passionate commitment to fine wine, history, quality and a deep respect for the environment. He implemented organic and Biodynamic farming at all of the family’s estate vineyards in Burgundy and California. Together with his sister Nathalie, he created Domaine de la Vougeraie, uniting the family’s Burgundy vineyards, including prestigious monopoles such as the Vougeot 1er Cru Clos Blanc de Vougeot – planted in 1110 by the Cistercian monks, into one of Burgundy’s leading domaines. He instituted the concept of “viniculteur”, redefining the company’s traditional role to encompass a close and active interest in all aspects of winegrowing to ensure premium quality and sustainable farming practices. He refashioned and elevated the family’s founding winery bearing his father’s name – Jean-Claude Boisset – into a premier boutique vigneron in the Cotes de Nuits.
In 2003 Jean-Charles brought DeLoach Vineyards, a pioneering producer of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, into the family collection. He immediately recognized the similarities to Burgundy: each boast a confluence of river, mountains, and soil that is perfect for growing world-class Pinot Noir. He began a mission, inspired by his Burgundian heritage to produce terroir-driven wines with the same commitment to terroir and organic and Biodynamic farming he had instituted in Burgundy. In 2009 Jean-Charles’ quest for California wineries with a sense of history, heritage and a pioneering spirit, led him to Raymond Vineyards in the Napa Valley, where five generations of family winemaking anchors it to the earliest days of the Napa Valley. Under his vision, Raymond has become a leading producer of luxury fine wines, implemented organic and Biodynamic farming on its 100 acre Rutherford estate, and become among the most dynamic winery destinations in California, earning “Winery of the Year” honors from Wine Enthusiast magazine. In 2011, Jean-Charles’ dream of championing California wine history became a reality when Buena Vista Winery, California’s first premium winery, founded in 1857, became a part of the Boisset Collection. From this great foundation of historical, pioneering wineries in France and California, Jean-Charles’ sets forth a vision of the wine world centered on family, passion, history, innovation, a commitment to fine wines, and a dedication to sustainable winegrowing.
Decanter magazine has included him on its “Power List” of the fifty most important people in the wine world each year of its publication since 2007; in March 2008, he received the Meininger’s International Wine Entrepreneur of the Year; and in December 2008, he was named “Innovator of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. The French America Foundation awarded him their first-ever French-American Partnership Award in 2013, bestowed upon an extraordinary individual or organization that has contributed to creating a strong and enduring French-American partnership in business, government, or academia. Haute Living Magazine named him to the Haute List San Francisco, recognizing the 100 most influential people in the San Francisco Bay Area. JFK University in Concord, CA named he and his wife, Gina Gallo-Boisset, their 2014 “Entrepreneur’s of the Year” in an awards ceremony on May 16, 2014. He was honored with the 2014 Jefferson Award by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, which celebrates the museum’s historical connection with Thomas Jefferson and his renowned love of fine wine.
Joe Anderson and Mary Dewane, Benovia Winery
The Benovia team is an extension of an extraordinary family, one that eats, drinks and breathes a lifelong passion for wine.
That passion finds its way into every bottle of Benovia Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel.
Joe Anderson, founder and chairman of Benovia Winery, and his wife, Mary Dewane, have been coming to wine country for nearly 20 years. They were encouraged by friends to purchase their first vineyard, Cohn Vineyard, at the top of the Russian River Valley in 2003.
Cohn Vineyard was planted in 1970 and produces a uniquely intense fruit that has been highly rated since Burt Williams’ vineyard designated it in 1987.
For the first few years, Joe and Mary were growers providing their Pinot Noir grapes to now iconic powerhouse Kosta Browne Winery.
In 2005, they bought a second vineyard and winery from Cecil DeLoach located in the heart of the Russian River Valley. That purchase started Joe and Mary on a journey that led them to develop that simple winery building into an adventure that would make them, and their fathers, proud — proud enough that the “Benovia” name pays homage to both Ben Dewane and Novian Anderson.
In 2008, Joe and Mary purchased an adjoining 40-acre cutting horse ranch. They planted 32 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and named this vineyard, Martaella, by combining the first names of each of their mothers — Martha Anderson and Eleanor Dewane. In addition, they purchased an 18-acre apple orchard west of Sebastopol in the Freestone area and planted this very cold coastal site to 12 acres of heirloom clone Pinot Noir in 2008.
The naming conventions pay homage Joe’s and Mary’s parents and the way Joe and Mary were raised with old-fashioned values of hard work and being the best at what you do. Never, ever produce anything that wouldn’t make you (and your parents) proud! Those values were the foundation of their families and the health care businesses that they established.
Joe and Mary subscribe to the belief that a winery that owns its vineyards can grow grapes exactly to their own standards, producing handcrafted wines of the highest caliber. Just as important, they believe that with the right tools in the hands of the right people, any job is easier and more productive.
“This journey began with our passion for wine, the Russian River Valley and the communities where we live,” says Joe. “In everything that we have done, Mary and I have always believed in hiring the right people and building a culture of excellence.”
The cornerstone of Benovia is winemaker and partner Mike Sullivan, a native of the Russian River area who honed his skills for 20 years — the last eight years at Hartford Family Winery — before joining Joe and Mary.
What Mike achieves at Benovia are wines that express their vintage, their terroir and, of course, their individual nature rather than the characteristics of a named varietal. By doing this, Benovia is producing luxury wines with amazing textures and flavor profiles.
Honorary Culinary Chairs
Mark and Terri Stark, Stark Reality Restaurants
James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur semifinalists Mark and Terri Stark own and operate five of Sonoma County’s favorite—and most highly-rated—restaurants: Willi’s Wine Bar, Stark’s Steak & Seafood and Monti’s in Santa Rosa, and Willi’s Seafood and Bravas Bar de Tapas in Healdsburg. Mark is Executive Chef and Terri handles all business operations, and it’s a partnership that has led them to unmatched success on the Sonoma County food scene. From opening their first venture, Willi’s Wine Bar in 2002, to their most recent, Bravas in 2012, Mark and Terri’s restaurants have consistently earned top accolades and praise including San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 Bay Area Restaurant status (Willi’s Wine Bar and Bravas), Michelin Bib Gourmand (Monti’s, Willi’s Wine Bar) and Travel + Leisure Top 20 US Tapas Restaurants (Bravas).
Says San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer, “What sets Mark and Terri Stark apart from many restaurateurs who have multiple locations is that each location is different. If their names weren’t written on the menu, in fact, you probably wouldn’t know it was one of their properties… Willi’s has remained one of my favorite casual stops in Sonoma County.”
Mark is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and he honed his professional cooking skills in Washington DC and Seattle. Terri majored in hospitality at the University of Oregon, and had a successful catering and restaurant management career in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mark and Terri met while both were working for the California Café Restaurant Group in Palo Alto: he as a regional chef, and she as manager of the catering department. They married in 1999, and relocated to Sonoma County shortly thereafter, where Terri has four generations of family.
The Starks believe it’s not enough to provide great food and service in a comfortable setting—those things are to be expected. Their goal is to provide an experience that will leave diners saying, “I can’t wait to come back.” With five (soon to be six—Bird & The Bottle is slated to open just outside of downtown Santa Rosa in summer 2015) restaurants under their belts, their philosophy seems to be working.