With Remi Cohen in the role of Director of Winemaking and Viticulture, Cliff Lede has a farmer in charge.
And considering Cohen’s background in farming, biology, business and sustainability, the new approach dovetails nicely with Cliff Lede’s emphasis on the quality of estate 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 Cohen. After working as a plant pathologist at a Bay Area biotech firm, 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.
From there, the East Brunswick, N.J., native moved into wine. At Saintsbury Winery in Carneros she had the opportunity to experience the entire winemaking process from the vineyard through hands-on winemaking practices. At Bouchaine Vineyards, in southern Napa Valley, she worked in both sales and marketing, and winegrowing for a while, too. At Merryvale Vineyards, she was Vice President of Operations with a focus on winegrowing.
After Merryvale, Cohen 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 since has spoken publicly on the subject numerous times.
“How some people could make wine without regard for the terroir and the environment, I’ll never know,” she notes. “I come from the perspective of the vines. For me, if we want this business to last, the two have got to be intertwined. Always.”
In her role at Cliff Lede Vineyards, Cohen applies this philosophy religiously, proving that a farmer at the head of a winemaking effort can make a huge difference. She says she looks forward to working with Winemaker Chris Tynan and vineyard crews 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 Cohen in the vineyards at Cliff Lede Vineyards 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 is big. It’s bold. And it makes a statement—just like Cohen 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.”