Team

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Claude and Katherine Blankiet: Proprietor Vintners

Known as the man who introduced stonewashing to America, Claude grew up in France with a family deeply rooted in the textile industry. His grandfather invented weaving looms and his father owned factories manufacturing military uniforms before World War II.

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After a law education, Claude joined the family textile business and in the mid-seventies moved to the United States. Within a few years, Claude created one of the largest denim finishing facilities in the world.

Katherine has deep family roots in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her great-grandfather was Sheriff and Mayor of Santa Fe in the early 1900s. Katherine graduated from the University of Texas and her keen eye for things of beauty led her to a career in antiques.

Claude met Katherine in her antique store and they have been married for 34 years. They are both passionate collectors, love all things from earth and nature and are devoted to their Paradise Hills Vineyard.

Graeme MacDonald: Winemaker

Graeme MacDonald is a fourth generation Napa Valley wine grower who resides on his family property within the famous To Kalon Vineyard. He studied Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis before founding MACDONALD in 2010, where he serves as winemaker and vineyard manager. Robert Mondavi used to refer to his family as “the best grape-growers in the Napa Valley,” a commitment that resonates today.

 

 

 

 

 

George Avina: Vineyard Manager

George is one of those blessed individuals who has a soulful connection to their work. He truly loves what he does. He is at peace when he walks the vineyards and the vines are his friends and surrogate family: he talks to them and cares for them. George was trained by viticulturist David Abreu for many years and has been tending the Paradise Hills Vineyards exclusively for almost a decade. Nothing goes unnoticed by George.

Angel Sanchez: Cellar Master

Angel apprenticed with Denis Malbec at the famed Kapcsandy winery years ago and came to Blankiet Estate in 2010 as part of the new team. As George has his personal connection with the vines, Angel has his personal relationship with the barrels. Each barrel is alive and requires nurturing for two or more years: stirring and racking of the lees, topping, anti-oxidation additions, sampling, lot blending and bottling. Any shortcut can potentially spoil a barrel of beautiful wine into vinegar or a rotting brew, but not under Angel’s watch!

Patrick Walters: Hospitality Manager

Patrick, Katherine’s nephew, came to the Napa Valley from Austin, Texas to help during harvest in 2005… and never left. He apprenticed in the winery under Helen Turley, Martha McClellan & Denis Malbec. Patrick is charming, loves people and has been hosting visits at the estate for many years.  

Linda DeWeese: Customer Relations Manager

For over thirty years, Linda has worked for Claude and Katherine, first as an accountant in the textile company, then with Blankiet Estate since its inception. She is our Customer Relations Manager with the friendly voice.

Julie Jones: Administrative Assistant

Julie is the Administrative Assistant for Claude and Katherine and the go-to-person for anything and everything.

In Memory of Denis Malbec

Denis left our world on April 16, 2016 during the dark hours of night in a tragic car accident. He was only 46 years old and at the peak of his remarkable winemaking career. Born at Château Latour, he was a descendant from a prestigious wine family. Since 1920, his grandfather Camille tended the vineyards and from 1969-1993, his father Jean-Noel was Maitre de Chai. As a third generation Malbec, Denis followed family tradition and became the Cellar Master at Latour in 1994. In time, he and his wife May-Britt could no longer resist the attraction of the sunny skies of the Napa Valley so in the year 2000, they left Bordeaux and settled in California. In 2010, he became our winemaker and the kinship was immediate. As a mentor to our team, he treated everyone with the utmost respect and kindness. His smile and legacy will remain forever with us in each sip of the beautiful wines he made. We will miss him dearly…

Cheers to you, sweet Denis.

Claude and Katherine Blankiet

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