Fifteen vintners and growers are profiled in Down to Earth, and they are a sampling of the thousands who have participated in education, self-assessment and certification programs by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and other state sustainability organizations which represent more than three-quarters of California's wine production and winegrape acreage. The book also includes a dozen seasonal recipes, timed to what's fresh in the garden.
The 256-page book is $40 and available for purchase at Amazon.com and at DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com/DownToEarth.
About the authorJanet Fletcher
Janet Fletcher is an author, journalist, and cook who trained at the Culinary Institute of America and at the celebrated Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, CA. Her writing for the San Francisco Chronicle has received three James Beard Awards. She has written for many of the nation’s premier food and wine publications and is the author or coauthor of more than two dozen books on food and beverage. A certified master gardener who maintains a large garden of perennials and edibles, Janet lives in Napa Valley with her winemaker husband.
Michael HonigHonig Vineyard and Winery
At the age of 22, Michael took the reins of his struggling family vineyard and winery. With an old
Over the last 30 years, Michael has surrounded himself with an incredible team and transformed the family business into a thriving success. With his seemingly endless energy, Michael, who is often referred to as "the James Brown of the wine industry," spends 75% of his time out in the world connecting with people and introducing them to Honig wines.
A leader in sustainable farming, he chaired the first California initiative to develop a "Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices," a voluntary program establishing statewide guidelines for sustainable farming and winemaking. In keeping with his commitment to sustainability, in 2005 Michael took part in an innovative pilot program to help train yellow lab puppies to detect vine mealy bugs in the vineyard, thus, lowering the need for pesticides.
Michael sits on the board of directors of the Napa Valley Vintners Association, whose mission is to promote, protect and enhance the Napa Valley appellation and its wines. He also serves on the boards of several other organizations including: the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance; California Farm Service Agency State Committee; Napa Crimestoppers; Tower Road Wine Storage; and is a past board member of the Wine Institute.
He lives on the Honig estate in Rutherford with wife Stephanie, daughters Sophia and Lola, son Sebastian, and their dogs Raisin and Kota.
Genevieve JanssensRobert Mondavi Winery
Genevieve Janssens learned early that the secret to winemaking success is to focus on quality. In her father’s vineyards, she followed him closely, listening and absorbing his philosophy. “My father believed that no matter what the conditions, you will survive by having the best quality, nothing else,” she declares. Seeing her father’s business succeed in difficult times, when others failed, convinced her that he was right.
Born to a French family in Morocco and raised in France, Genevieve’s formal wine education began under the tutelage of the legendary “three fathers” of modern enology—Jean Ribereau-Gayon; his son, Pascal Ribereau-Gayon; and Emile Peynaud—with whom she studied at the University of Bordeaux, France. After receiving her National Diploma of Enology 1974, she returned to her family’s vineyards in Corsica and France, which she managed from 1974 to 1977. Concurrently, she also owned and operated her own enology laboratory in Provence and served as consulting enologist to many French chateaux in the mid-seventies.
Drawn to the Robert Mondavi Winery’s philosophy in winemaking and winegrowing, Genevieve moved to the Napa Valley in 1978. She recognized in Robert Mondavi her father’s holistic approach to quality. “It starts with the earth, the legacy of what we have received from our ancestors and what we are going to leave for the future generation,” she says. “We must work to maintain the land, to grow so that we all live in symbiosis: the earth, the vines, the people—care creates quality.” From 1978–1979, she fully absorbed this philosophy, working at the Robert Mondavi Winery as a lab enologist and an assistant enologist. Deeply interested in the winemaking revolution taking hold in the state, Genevieve continued exploring California for the next decade, holding several consulting positions.
Genevieve’s connection to Robert Mondavi returned in 1989, when she became Director of Production at Opus One Winery. Then, in 1997, she came full circle as the Director of Winemaking at the Robert Mondavi Winery. In 2000, she helped implement the To Kalon Project, the winery’s first major renovation since it was founded in 1966. The new To Kalon Fermentation Cellar allows Robert Mondavi Winery to make Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve and Oakville District Cabernet Sauvignon in a winemaking facility equal to its surrounding historic To Kalon Vineyard. “I wanted to be there for the construction, creativity and challenge,” says Genevieve. “We have created a new winery for our To Kalon estate, one of the most extraordinary vineyards on earth.”
With her unique background, Genevieve brings a different sensibility and culture to the Robert Mondavi Winery’s winemaking team, with whom she meets regularly to taste wines, discussing style and vision. They also collaborate with the winegrowing team. “The winemaking and winegrowing teams are really one team,” she explains. “We have the same mission—to produce wines of great density and rich fruit character, wines of elegance and finesse that complement food. In this way, we combine the structure of the finest French wines with powerful fruit, California-style.”
Genevieve considers herself lucky to have a job she loves and sees little need of hobbies. But when not engrossed in her work at the winery, she does enjoy cooking. “But I can never make the same thing twice,” she warns. “I have a spontaneous imagination—if you liked the dish, I’m glad, but you’ll never taste it again!”
For Genevieve, carrying on the legacy of her beloved mentor, the late Robert Mondavi, is both a joy and an honor. “With our To Kalon Cellar finished and the new vineyard projects underway, this is an exciting time for the winery, and for me,” she says. “I am proud to be the torchbearer of Mr. Mondavi’s vision.”
In 2009, the French government honored Genevieve as an “Officier” of the The Ordre National du Mérite Agricole, which was established in France in 1883 by Minister of Agriculture Jules Meline to reward services to agriculture. And in 2010, Genevieve received the esteemed Winemaker of the Year award from Wine Enthusiast.
Genevieve lives in Napa Valley with her husband Luc and her two children, Gabrielle and Georges. She became a US citizen in 1985.