“Eileen has broken new ground with her approach to environmental and regenerative land use,” says Zak Miller, who will step into the role of sparkling winemaker at Domaine Carneros after a decade spent working side-by-side with Crane on the production of the winery’s luxury sparkling wines and alongside Pinot Noir winemaker TJ Evans. “She pioneered smart and sustainable initiatives at the winery—I can think of no better legacy to leave, especially now that climate change is challenging all wineries to become more self-reliant.”
Under Crane, Domaine Carneros emerged as one of the industry’s most forward-thinking brands. When Crane introduced solar power to the winery in 2003, it positioned Domaine Carneros as a pioneer in renewable energy production in the wine industry at large. Today, the new micro-grid allows the winery to continue production should California’s notorious seasonal fires force the statewide electrical grid to go dark. With fires often occurring during the harvest months, the system helps ensure smooth operations at a critical time. Miller stated, “Domaine Carneros will keep disruptions to a minimum thanks to Eileen’s foresight and anticipation of our energy needs.”
Such environmental planning and sustainable efforts paid off under Crane. Her packaging reuse plan saw employees reclaiming both inserts and cases for in-house purposes. And like many green initiatives, it ultimately helped add more “green” to the winery’s bottom line. With an annual reuse rate of 20-25%, Domaine Carneros employees helped save the company an average of $75,000 per year since the program’s inception in 2011.
Such employee involvement in sustainability programs is vital. Once again Crane was ahead of the curve by instituting an open-book management plan that all workers could see. The plan set measurable goals every three years, reevaluated annually, that encouraged employee involvement in managing the winery’s sustainability efforts. These include installing skylights to reduce electricity use, recycling bottles, corks, and foil, and introducing owl boxes in the vineyards.
“To tend to the vine is to do the right thing. I have a responsibility to my winery, my employees and the planet,” Crane says, summarizing her dedication and passion for winemaking. “It was an honor and a privilege to work with the Taittinger family for these past 33 years. I know Domaine Carneros will continue to be a leader in winemaking and regenerative practices.”
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. For information, images and interviews please contact Kimberly Noelle Charles of Charles Communications Associates at [email protected] or 415-701-9463.