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Clay Gregory, Former CEO of Visit Napa Valley, President of Jackson Family Wines, and General Manager of Robert Mondavi Winery, Passes at 65


February 2, 2023 – Clay Gregory, an active, influential and well-respected member of the Napa Valley community, passed away peacefully on Feb. 1, 2023. During the past few years he had suffered from complications related to a form of early onset Alzheimer’s. He was 65.

In 2019, Clay retired as President and CEO of Visit Napa Valley, the official tourism marketing organization for the Napa Valley. In 2010, with support from the county’s hospitality community, Clay established the Napa Valley Tourism Improvement District (NVTID) to ensure that funding for marketing and promotion of the Napa Valley as a globally recognized destination was maintained at competitive levels. Clay positioned VNV to support the entire valley, to ensure each town was equally represented. 

“Clay’s leadership was instrumental in devising and implementing the TID for the benefit of the hospitality industry; not only for the city of Napa, but countywide,” commented former Napa Mayor, Jill Techel. “This strategic investment in the advancement of the industry continues to drive this important economic sector, benefitting all who live, work and visit Napa Valley.”

To draw more international attention to the Napa Valley wine region, in 2009 Clay collaborated with the San Francisco Travel Association to become part of the Great Wine Capitals. Additionally, in an effort to encourage more visitors to the Napa Valley during “need times,” (mid-week and November through April) VNV created various events and marketing programs including Flavor! Napa Valley (2011 – 2017); “Arts in April” (2010 – present); and “Cabernet Season,” a marketing term created in 2012 to brand low season. Additionally, under Clay’s leadership, VNV formed partnerships to support the creation of Festival Napa Valley (formerly Festival del Sole); the Napa Valley Film Festival; BottleRock Napa Valley, and more. 

Prior to his role with the Visit Napa Valley, Clay served in key wine industry leadership roles, including as President of Jackson Family Wines, and Vice President and General Manager of Robert Mondavi Winery. He also had his own wine label, Inherit the Sheep. Clay was an active member of community and industry associations, including serving as President of the Napa Valley Vintners in 2003; as well as serving on the Auction Napa Valley Board from 2000 – 2003. He also served as President of the Oakville Winegrowers in the early 1990’s; Napa Humane from 2007-2012; the Napa Chamber of Commerce from 2009 – 2013; the Board for US Travel Association and the Robert Mondavi Institute at UC Davis.

“Clay was a wonderful fellow,” added Napa Valley Vintner Tim Mondavi. “He had a quiet, warm, receptive charisma that put everyone at ease. He also had aspirations to excel at whatever he did — qualities that made him a well-loved and respected, gentle leader. He connected to and inspired people to do their best and become a vibrant team. We had great vision at Robert Mondavi Winery and Clay helped make that happen with his inspiring confidence. He loved people, wine, and fun, and his spirit made him ideal as a goodwill ambassador for Napa Valley. We will miss his always positive presence.” 

Clay was born in Manhattan Beach, CA and raised in northern California, earning undergraduate and MBA degrees from San Jose State University, with a concentration in Marketing. Clay is survived by his wife Tersilla, four brothers and their wives, and seven nieces and nephews. Travel, golf, his beloved Basset hounds, and the San Francisco Giants were some of his many passions. 




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