Clif Family Winery in St. Helena
Interview with Winemaker Laura Barrett.
Clif Family Winery & Farm was founded in 2004 by Kit Crawford and Gary Erickson. They farm 10 varietals across 90 acres of certified organic and Napa Green estate vineyards in the Howell Mountain and Oak Knoll District appellations of the Napa Valley.
In addition to their vineyards, they have an organic farm that provides seasonal produce for unique culinary experiences at Clif Family Tasting Room and Enoteca Tasting Salon, both located in the heart of downtown St. Helena. At the tasting rooms the team brings together their passion for food, wine and farming.
We interview Clif Family’s Winemaker, Laura Barrett to learn more.
Share a popular tasting experience?
Clif Family’s Winemaker, Laura Barrett: Our most popular tasting experience is our King of the Mountain tasting. This wine and culinary experience highlights the seasonal bounty of our organic farm, paired with our highly acclaimed red wines including our Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. We also offer a plant-based food option for this tasting experience.
The King of the Mountain tasting is offered at our Rifguio Tasting Room. We also offer an elevated version of the tasting called our La Cima Reserva at the Enoteca Tasting Salon.
What type of wine do you specialize in?
Laura Barrett: Our main focus at Clif Family Winery is Napa Valley Cabernet, from both the Howell Mountain and Oak Knoll District appellations. We do, however, make many more varietals, and our guests have grown to love us for our varietal diversity, including Rose’ of Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Zinfandel, Grenache and two proprietary red wine blends.
What makes your wine unique?
Laura Barrett: We are guided by our 5 Aspirations model of business – Sustaining our People, Community, Planet, Brands and Business. This means growing a healthy company, maintaining the integrity of our brands, taking care of our employees, supporting the communities where we live and work, and working to reduce our ecological footprint in all aspects of our business.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about your winery?
Laura Barrett: Clif Family Winery is unique in our exceptional approach to hospitality. Not only are the wines and food delicious, but we create an unforgettable food and wine experience that is fun, educational, and delicious.
Describe your winemaking approach.
Laura Barrett: At Clif Family Winery our goal is to make delicious wines that are fruit-forward, approachable, food-friendly, and made from organically grown grapes. Every decision that we make from our farming practices to our packaging, is made with a focus on sustainability.
What do you love about winemaking?
Laura Barrett: I love being responsible for making a product that people enjoy. There is nothing better than working hard all harvest season, getting that first wine of the vintage into the bottle, then seeing customers enjoying your fruity, bright, and delicious Rose’ on the first sunny, warm day in February. It’s just the best!
Do you remember the first time you fell in love with wine?
Laura Barrett: I fell in love with wine while working in the vineyard at Stonyridge Vineyards on Waiheke Island, New Zealand. I was backpacking and just working as a seasonal traveler, but loved it so much, I stayed for a year. It was the people, the beauty of the country, and the wine lifestyle that pulled me in.
How did you get started in the wine industry?
Laura Barrett: I studied chemistry as a college undergraduate. In my search for an interesting application, I discovered fermentation science. I wanted to make something, a product that people could enjoy. While traveling in New Zealand, I discovered the wine industry and never looked back!
Do you have a favorite story about working at your winery?
Laura Barrett: The Clif Family Enoteca Tasting Salon is located adjacent to my office. A favorite part of my day is quickly popping into tastings and chatting with guests. It’s so interesting to hear where people are from, what’s on their tasting itinerary, and what their favorite wines are. It’s a quick and simple piece of my day, but always memorable for both me and our guests.
Do you have any winery traditions with your team?
Laura Barrett: Each year, we close our business for one day for an all-company volunteer day. It’s always one of the best days of the year, when we work together, have fun, and make a difference in our community.