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Domaine Carneros CEO Eileen Crane to Retire After 33-year Tenure, Steps Down as CEO

Posted on April 08, 2020

Carneros, CA – After an incredibly successful career spanning 42 years, noted sparkling wine industry pioneer Eileen Crane, CEO and head winemaker at Domaine Carneros, will be stepping down from her role as CEO this summer. In 1987 she was selected by Claude Taittinger, President of Champagne Taittinger, to develop the winery. From the beginning, Crane has been an innovator in winemaking, hospitality, direct-to-client services, open book management and environmentally sound practices. Crane has always been ahead of the curve with respect to leadership practices and winemaking excellence.  

Prior to joining Domaine Carneros, Crane was hired in 1984 to construct Gloria Ferrer and make their early cuvées. Her first job in the wine industry was as a tour guide at Domaine Chandon. Crane’s desire to become a winemaker was born out of her early experiences in New Jersey where she learned about wine via her father’s extensive wine cellar. She fell in love with champagne with her first sip as a child. After having earned a Master’s degree in nutrition as well as professional training at the Culinary Institute of America, Crane drove across the country to California in 1978 to enroll in oenology and viticulture courses at the University of California, Davis. Told there by a male professor that she would never get a job in the wine industry as a woman could not do barrel work, with determination and the support of Professor Ann Noble at Davis, Crane forged ahead, eventually becoming  known as the “Doyenne of Sparkling Wine” by noted writer and author Karen MacNeil. Over her career, Crane has received wide international praise for her refined wines as well as her effective management of  the  highly reputed winery.  

Of  Crane’s contributions, Champagne Taittinger President Director General Pierre Emmanuel Taittinger stated, “From the time my uncle Claude interviewed Eileen till today, for the past 33 years, she has been a guiding, steady and creative hand at the helm of Domaine Carneros.  It is an internationally renowned brand due to her commitment to excellence and ability to create memorable and  elegant wines.” Crane shared, “My dream from the age of eight was to make delicious sparkling wine. From a little girl in New Jersey through a path of many adventures with twists and turns, eventually I found the career that has been more than a dream come true. And it has been a great pleasure to work with the Taittinger family for 33 years.”

Crane’s other career contributions include being active in community non-profits as Chair Emerita of Collabria Care (Hospice), board member of Music in the Vineyard and previously a long-term board member of Clinic Ole (now OLE Health). She has chaired two wine organizations, Carneros Wine Alliance and the Sparkling Wine Society.

Eileen will continue as lead sparkling winemaker through 2020 harvest and cuvée blending. Stepping into the role of sparkling winemaker will be Zak Miller, who has worked for over a decade with Eileen as a member of the winemaking team. He will be at the forefront of daily sparkling operations ranging from harvesting, cuvée blending, and tirage, seeing it all through the final sparkling wine process of disgorging. Working with Pinot Noir Winemaker TJ Evans, Zak plays an integral part in producing all the luxury sparkling wines produced at Domaine Carneros.

About Domaine Carneros 
Founded in 1987, Domaine Carneros reflects the hallmark of its founder, Champagne Taittinger, in creating a vision of terroir-driven sparkling wine and preserving the quality tenets of the traditional method production.  Located entirely within the Carneros AVA, between Napa and Sonoma counties, the six estate vineyards total approximately 400 acres with 125 acres planted to Chardonnay, 225 acres planted to Pinot Noir, with the remaining acres currently in development. The winery focuses on making ultra-premium Carneros sparkling wines largely estate grown and limited production Pinot Noirs.

Domaine Carneros' château has become a landmark and symbol of the region. The architecture and interior design were inspired by the 18th century Château de la Marquetterie, the historic Taittinger family residence in the Champagne region.  

The winery also places a high value on preserving the environment and has taken on a vast array of environmental efforts. The roof of the pinot noir winery adjacent to the château hosts a solar array that was the largest on any winery in the world when it was installed and continues to be expanded. The most recent award, one of many from Federal, State and local government; was the California Green Medal for Domaine Carneros’ demonstration of  “Smart Business through efficiencies, cost savings and innovation from implementing sustainable practices.”
 

Region: Napa & Sonoma
Job Function: President/Owner/GM

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