Clos du Val Winery in Napa

By Published On: November 1st, 2023

Interview with Winemaker Carmel Greenberg.

Clos du Val is a third-generation, family-owned winery in the heart of Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District. The winery is run by Olav Goelet, the grandson of the founder. The winery is taking a very modern approach to their winemaking style.

Carmel Greenberg joined as Winemaker in summer of 2021. She grew up in Israel and worked on the winemaking team at Dominus for just over five years (three years as Assistant Winemaker) before coming to Clos du Val. She spent time at Buccella and Cakebread as well. She’s shaping the wine style and direction.

We interview Greenberg to learn more.

What type of wine do you specialize in?

Clos du Val Winemaker Carmel Greenberg: We specialize in elegant, Bordeaux-style wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Our flagship wine is is our Yettalil Stags Leap District. It’s a Cabernet-based Bordeaux blend that represents the 50-year history of our Stags Leap District vineyard in a single bottle. 

It brings to life the vineyard we planted in 1972 while using the mindset of Olav Goelet’s grandmother, Henrietta, for whom the wine is named. Henrietta was always thinking of the next generation and planning for the future. Olav’s grandfather John, lovingly called her Yettalil, short for Little Yetta. We have been carefully cultivating the vineyard since 1972, learning what grapes grow best where, with ideal row direction, trellising and clone.

We’ve taken this knowledge and passion to craft this Cabernet-based wine that demonstrates the best of Clos du Val today

Yettalil Stags Leap District. Photo courtesy: of Clos du Val.

What makes your wine unique?

Carmel Greenberg: The wines of Clos du Val are unique due to our philosophy of blending varietals together to create the best expression, as well as our special vineyard sites in Napa Valley, especially our estate vineyard in the Stags Leap District.

We use sustainable farming practices, and our team is made up of experts in viticulture and winemaking, who are extremely passionate about producing the highest quality wines possible.

Clos du Val owner Olav Goelet with Winemaker Carmel Greenberg
3rd generation owner Olav Goelet with Winemaker Carmel Greenberg. Photo courtesy: of Clos du Val.

Share your tasting experiences.

Carmel Greenberg: We offer a variety of tasting experiences here at our Stags Leap District estate showcasing both our current releases and rare library vintages.

Hirondelle House Tasting $75/Person

Join us at our modern Hirondelle House on the estate to enjoy a current release flight of wines, expertly guided by one of our estate hosts. This is your chance to learn the history behind Clos du Val and the Bordeaux-inspired wines we craft. Our wines will be paired with seasonal crudité.

Clos du Val Hirondelle House.
Hirondelle House. Photo courtesy: of Clos du Val.

Retrospective Decade Tasting $100/person

For this special tasting we reach deep into the library to feature iconic 10, 20, 30, and 40-year releases. This allows you to explore our age-worthy wines and the evolution of our Bordeaux-inspired winemaking style. Your wines will be accompanied by artisan cheeses and charcuterie.

Palisades Overlook Tasting $100/Person

This private tasting is held in a secluded cabana with gorgeous views of the Stags Leap Palisades. This is the perfect spot to taste through our Estate-grown wines from the iconic Stags Leap District, that we call home. In this tasting, you will discover why this tiny region of Napa Valley is world-famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals.

The wines will be accompanied by a selection of charcuterie and aged cheeses.

Clos du Val Palisades Overlook Tasting.
Palisades Overlook Tasting. Photo courtesy: Clos du Val.

How did you get started in the wine industry?

Carmel Greenberg: My first introduction to the world of wine was while working as a waiter at a French restaurant in Tel Aviv, Israel. While I originally planned to channel my creative passions into a career in design, I quickly fell in love with wine and began to dive into my wine education.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the winemaking process?

Carmel Greenberg: I’ve learned to trust my palate over everything else. It’s important to look at the data, but I always make sure to taste as much as I can from the berries on the vines to the wines during the different stages of fermentation and aging.

Harvesting Grapes at Clos du Val Winery.
Harvesting grapes. Photo courtesy: Clos du Val.

Do you remember the first time you fell in love with wine?

Carmel Greenberg: As a student I didn’t have much money for wine, so I drank an inexpensive wine from Argentina. I fell in love with the ritual of selecting a wine, uncorking it, and sharing a bottle with friends and family.

Wine portfolio. Photo courtesy: of Clos du Val.

Describe your winemaking approach.  

Carmel Greenberg: My winemaking philosophy is to craft elegant, fruit-forward, and complex blended expressions. I look for balance throughout the process of winemaking. It starts in the vineyards with farming, to picking at the precise right time, to creating a blend that creates the perfect balance.

Clos du Val Winemaker Carmel Greenberg with Vineyard Manager Ryan Decker.
Winemaker Carmel Greenberg with Vineyard Manager Ryan Decker. Photo courtesy: Clos du Val.

Do you have a favorite story about working at your winery?

Carmel Greenberg: On one of our lunch breaks, our team broke out a karaoke machine. Everyone took turns singing their favorite songs, and we discovered a lot of hidden talent! It’s always important to take a break, relax, and laugh as a team.

What do you love about winemaking?  

Carmel Greenberg: The opportunity to do so many different things – being outdoors in the vineyard, working in the cellar, hosting guests, traveling to share our story and wines, etc. I also love being able to create a product that brings joy to others – one that can be shared with loved ones, or to celebrate a special moment.

Close du Val Winemaker Carmel Greenberg sorting grapes with team member.
Winemaker Carmel Greenberg sorting grapes with team member. Photo courtesy: Clos du Val.

Do you have any winery traditions with your team?

Carmel Greenberg: We have a celebratory pre-harvest BBQ with our team, toasting the first grapes of the season with champagne, taste of tequila when the last grapes come in, lunch/dinner with the cellar crew after the last press. And in between we have plenty of beer! This keeps us all connected and working toward the same goal.

How does your team help you as a winemaker?  

Carmel Greenberg: We have such a dedicated team in the vineyard, cellar, and lab. The team is constantly offering insight and encouraging ideas about how to continue to improve. Every harvest season, we hire between 5-10 interns from around the world that bring a unique perspective to the team. For the 2023 harvest, we had interns from Argentina and Moldova — and in previous years we’ve had interns from Chile, France and Italy.

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