Claude & Katherine Blankiet
About The Estate:
Four Corners Wine was introduced to Blankiet Estate's winemaker, Graeme MacDonald, by his childhood friend and one of our very first contacts in Napa Valley, Luke Russ from O'Shaughnessy Estate Winery. They grew up just a few hundred metres from each other in their familial homes in the very heart of the To Kalon vineyard, where Graeme and his family still live today.
Graeme introduced us to Claude Blankiet and the rest, as they say, is history...
Known as the man who introduced stonewashing to America, Claude grew up in France with a family deeply rooted in the textile industry. His grandfather invented weaving looms and his father owned factories manufacturing military uniforms before World War II.
After a law education, Claude joined the family textile business and in the mid-seventies moved to the United States. Within a few years, Claude created one of the largest denim finishing facilities in the world.
Katherine has deep family roots in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her great-grandfather was Sheriff and Mayor of Santa Fe in the early 1900s. Katherine graduated from the University of Texas and her keen eye for things of beauty led her to a career in antiques.
Claude met Katherine in her antique store and they have been married for 35 years. They are both passionate collectors, love all things from earth and nature and are devoted to their Paradise Hills Vineyard.
In 1996 with the single vision of producing world class wines, Claude and Katherine Blankiet ushered in the estate’s vineyard, suitably named Paradise Hills. Blankiet Estate is located in the Napa Valley, one of the most prestigious wine growing areas in the world. Just an hour drive northeast of San Francisco, the property is nestled above Yountville on the western foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains.
With an ideal eastern exposure, the land is bathed with morning sun and benefits from natural shade in the hot afternoons. A constant cool breeze from the San Pablo Bay flows across the land. The vineyards are carved on steep hillsides just above the famed Napanook parcel that was originally planted in 1838 by Yountville’s founder, George C. Yount.
This land is of impeccable pedigree and has been the source of legendary wines. As evidenced by copious arrowheads discovered at the banks of a stream winding through the vineyard, it was once the hunting grounds of indigenous Indian tribes. Remnants of vine-stakes (hand hewn by elusive farmers during prohibition times) are still visible on vineyard patches hidden alongside the forest ridge road.
Paradise Hills Vineyard is located on three volcanic knolls separated by alluvial swells deposited by the creeks draining the mountain range. Soil profiles vary from deeply fractured rocks and volcanic ash to thick clay deposits. Viticulturist David Abreu and winemaker Helen Turley were brought in to develop Paradise Hills Vineyard into four distinct sections. Each sub-section is distinguished by unique subsoil and microclimate. Moreover, meticulously selected root stocks were grafted with clonal varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot procured from first growth Bordeaux estates.
Winemaker Graeme MacDonald is a fourth generation Napa Valley wine grower who resides on his family property within the famous To Kalon Vineyard. He studied Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis before founding MACDONALD in 2010, where he serves as winemaker and vineyard manager. Robert Mondavi used to refer to his family as “the best grape-growers in the Napa Valley,” a commitment that resonates today.
Vineyard Manager George Avina is one of those blessed individuals who has a soulful connection to their work. He truly loves what he does. He is at peace when he walks the vineyards and the vines are his friends and surrogate family: he talks to them and cares for them. George was trained by viticulturist David Abreu for many years and has been tending the Paradise Hills Vineyards exclusively for almost a decade. Nothing goes unnoticed by George.
Graeme's family property is located in the very heart of the famed To Kalon vineyard in Oakville. He's the 4th generation of his family to live there.
The winery is connected to a deep underground network of caves, and was designed by renowned Napa architect Jon Lail, husband to none other than Robin Lail (Lail Vineyards)! Like we said, 3 degrees of separation...
Looking east towards Yountville from the top of the Paradise Hills Vineyard