University of California Berkeley
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
The Wine Spectator California Wine Oral History Series
Frank M. Woods
FOUNDING CLOS DU BOIS WINERY: A MARKETING APPROACH
An Interview Conducted by
Copyright 1998 by The Regents of the University of California
Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing leading
participants in or well-placed witnesses to major events in the development of
Northern California, the West, and the Nation. Oral history is a method of
collecting historical information through tape-recorded interviews between a
narrator with firsthand knowledge of historically significant events and a well-
informed interviewer, with the goal of preserving substantive additions to the
historical record. The tape recording is transcribed, lightly edited for
continuity and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. The corrected
manuscript is indexed, bound with photographs and illustrative materials, and
placed in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and in
other research collections for scholarly use. Because it is primary material,
oral history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete
narrative of events. It is a spoken account, offered by the interviewee in
response to questioning, and as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved,
All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement
between The Regents of the University of California and Frank M.
Woods dated January 5, 1998. The manuscript is thereby made
available for research purposes. All literary rights in the
manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to The
Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley. No part
of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written
permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University
of California, Berkeley.
Requests for permission to quote for publication should be
addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library,
University of California, Berkeley 94720, and should include
identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated
use of the passages, and identification of the user. The legal
agreement with Frank M. Woods requires that he be notified of the
request and allowed thirty days in which to respond.
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Frank M. Woods, "Founding Clos du Bois
Winery: A Marketing Approach," an oral
history conducted in 1998 by Carole Hicke,
Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft
Library, University of California,
Frank Woods, 1980.
WOODS, Frank M. (b. 1933) Winery owner
Founding Clos du Bois Winery: A Marketing Approach. 1998, ix, 115 pp.
Background and early marketing experience with Procter & Gamble; developing
and marketing Pine Mountain Log and other products; developing Breckenridge
Ski Resort; Clos du Bois: vineyards in Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys,
producing wine at other wineries, marketing goals for the label, building
facilities and tasting room, sale to Hiram Walker in 1998; significance of
Sonoma County in the wine industry.
Interviewed 1998 by Carole Hicke for the Wine Spectator California
Wine Oral History Series, the Regional Oral History Office, The
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
TABLE OF CONTENTS--Frank M. Woods
INTERVIEW HISTORY vii
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION ix
I BACKGROUND !
Growing up in a Hotel
Cornell University Hotel School: 1950-1954 3
II WORKING FOR PROCTER & GAMBLE 6
Joining the Company 6
Brand Marketing 5
Military Service, U.S. Army 9
Back to Procter & Gamble, 1956 12
III ENTREPRENEURIAL ENTERPRISES 15
Pine Mountain Log 15
Marketing Continental 17
Developing the Breckenridge Ski Resort 18
California Political Campaigns, 1966-1970 19
California State Personnel Board, 1970-1980 20
More on Breckenridge 25
IV CLOS DU BOIS WINERY 30
Beginning Interest in Wine 30
Acquisition of Vineyards 31
Vineyard Managers 36
Winemaking Startup: An Unusual Story 39
Marketing in the California Wine Industry 41
Naming the Winery 42
Designing the Label 45
Decision to Bottle the 1974 Vintage 46
Selling That First Vintage 46
A Second Label: River Oaks Vineyards 50
A Successful Marketing Philosophy for Clos du Bois 50
Increasing the Number of Shelf Facings 50
A Variety of Products 51
Winery on Wheels 53
The Tasting Room--A Successful Marketing Tool 57
Description of Tasting Room 61
Three Goals in the Marketing Philosophy 62
Value of Estate-Grown Grapes 62
Creating Wines That Are Elegant and Accessible 63
Creating a Market Without Advertising 65
River Oaks Label 69
Establishing Layers of Wine 69
More on California State Personnel Board 74
Summary of Winery Startup Objectives 76
Early Harvest Riesling 77
Gewurztraminer and Other Rieslings 77
Red Wines 82
Selling Wine by the Glass 83
Labeling Varietals by the Color 84
Profit Margins 85
Mary Ann Graf 88
William Bonetti 88
Vineyard Management 90
Summary of Marketing Strategy 92
Sale of Clos du Bois, 1988 97
Professional Activities 100
Sonoma County 100
Wine Institute 103
TAPE GUIDE 107
A "California's Best Kept Secret," The Wine Spectator.
June 1-15, 1986 108
B The International Wine and Spirit Competition
Gold Award, 1981 112
The California wine industry oral history series, a project of the
Regional Oral History Office, was initiated by Ruth Teiser in 1969
through the action and with the financing of the Wine Advisory Board, a
state marketing order organization which ceased operation in 1975. In
1983 it was reinstituted as The Wine Spectator California Wine Oral
History Series with donations from The Wine Spectator Scholarship
Foundation. The selection of those to be interviewed has been made by a
committee consisting of the director of The Bancroft Library, University
of California, Berkeley; John A. De Luca, president of the Wine
Institute, the statewide winery organization; Carole Hicke, series
project director; and Marvin R. Shanken, trustee of The Wine Spectator
Until her death in June 199 A, Ruth Teiser was project originator,
initiator, director, and conductor of the greater part of the oral
histories. Her book, Winemaking in California, co-authored with
Catherine Harroun and published in 1982, was the product of more than
forty years of research, interviewing, and photographing. (Those wine
history files are now in The Bancroft Library for researcher use.) Ruth
Teiser 's expertise and knowledge of the wine industry contributed
significantly to the documenting of its history in this series.
The purpose of the series is to record and preserve information on
California grapegrowing and winemaking that has existed only in the
memories of winemen. In some cases their recollections go back to the
early years of this century, before Prohibition. These recollections are
of particular value because the Prohibition period saw the disruption of
not only the industry itself but also the orderly recording and
preservation of records of its activities. Little has been written about
the industry from late in the last century until Repeal. There is a real
paucity of information on the Prohibition years (1920-1933), although
some commercial winemaking did continue under supervision of the
Prohibition Department. The material in this series on that period, as
well as the discussion of the remarkable development of the wine industry
in subsequent years will be of aid to historians. Of particular value is
the fact that frequently several individuals have discussed the same
subjects and events or expressed opinions on the same ideas, each from
his or her own point of view.
Research underlying the interviews has been conducted principally in
the University libraries at Berkeley and Davis, the California State
Library, and in the library of the Wine Institute, which has made its
collection of materials readily available for the purpose.
The Regional Oral History Office was established to tape record
autobiographical interviews with persons who have contributed
significantly to recent California history. The office is headed by
Willa K. Baum and is under the administrative supervision of The Bancroft
The Wine Spectator California Wine
Oral History Series
Regional Oral History Office
The Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley
CALIFORNIA WINE INDUSTRY INTERVIEWS
Interviews Completed as of October 1998
Leon D. Adams, Revitalizing the California Wine Industry, 1974
Leon D. Adams, California Wine Industry Affairs: Recollections and Opinions,
Maynard A. Amerine, The University of California and the State's Wine
Maynard A. Amerine, Wine Bibliographies and Taste Perception Studies,
Richard L. Arrowood, Sonoma County f/ineraaking: Chateau St. Jean and Arrowood
Vineyards & Winery, 1996
Philo Biane, Vine Making in Southern California and Recollections of Fruit
Industries, Inc. , 1972
William Bonetti, A Life of Winemaking at Wineries of Gallo, Schenley, Charles
Krug, Chateau Souverain, and Sonoma -Cutrer, 1998
Charles A. Carpy, Viticulture and Enology at Freemark Abbey, 1994
John B. Cella, The Cella Family in the California Wine Industry, 1986
Charles Crawford, Recollections of a Career with the Gallo Winery and the
Development of the California Wine Industry, 1942-1989, 1990
Burke H. Critchfield, Carl F. Wente, and Andrew G. Frericks, The California
Wine Industry During the Depression, 1972
William V. Cruess, A Half Century of Food and Wine Technology, 1967
Jack and Jamie Peterman Davies, Rebuilding Schramsberg: The Creation of a
California Champagne House, 1990
William A. Dieppe, Almaden is My Life, 1985
Paul Draper, History and Philosophy of Winemaking at Ridge Vineyards: 1970s-
Daniel J. and Margaret S. Duckhorn, Mostly Merlot: The History of
Duckhorn Vineyards, 1996
David, Jean, Peter, and Steven Ficklin, Making California Port Wine: Ficklin
Vineyards from 1948 to 1992, 1992
Brooks Firestone, Firestone Vineyard: A Santa Ynez Valley Pioneer, 1996
Louis J. Foppiano, A Century of Agriculture and Winemaking in Sonoma County,
Alfred Fromm, Marketing California Wine and Brandy, 1984
Louis Gomberg, Analytical Perspectives on the California Wine Industry, 1935-
Miljenko Grgich, A Croatian-American Winemaker in the Napa Valley, 1992
Joseph E. Heitz, Creating a Winery in the Napa Valley, 1986
William H. Hill, Vineyard Development and the William Hill Winery, 1970s-
Agustin Huneeus, A World View of the Wine Industry, 1996
Maynard A. Joslyn, A Technologist Views the California Wine Industry,
Amandus N. Kasimatis, A Career in California Viticulture, 1988
Morris Katz, Paul Masson Winery Operations and Management, 1944-1988, 1990
Legh F. Knowles, Jr., Beaulieu Vineyards from Family to Corporate Ownership,
Horace 0. Lanza and Harry Baccigaluppi, California Grape Products and Other
Wine Enterprises, 1971
Zelma R. Long, The Past is the Beginning of the Future: Simi Winery in its
Second Century, 1992
Richard Maher, California Winery Management and Marketing, 1992
Louis M. Martini and Louis P. Martini, Wine Making in the Napa Valley,
Louis P. Martini, A Family Winery and the California Wine Industry, 1984
Eleanor McCrea, Stony Hill Vineyards: The Creation of a Napa Valley Estate
Otto E. Meyer, California Premium Wines and Brandy, 1973
Norbert C. Mirassou and Edmund A. Mirassou, The Evolution of a Santa Clara
Valley Winery, 1986
Peter Mondavi, Advances in Technology and Production at Charles Krug Winery,
Robert Mondavi, Creativity in the Wine Industry, 1985
Michael Moone, Management and Marketing at Beringer Vineyards and Wine World,
Myron S. Nightingale, Making Wine in California, 1944-1987, 1988
Harold P. Olmo, Plant Genetics and New Grape Varieties, 1976
Cornelius Ough, Researches of an Enologist, University of California, Davis,
John A. Parducci, Six Decades of Making Wine in Mendocino County, California,
Antonio Perelli-Minetti, A Life in Wine Making, 1975
Louis A. Petri, The Petri Family in the Wine Industry, 1971
Jefferson E. Peyser, The Law and the California Wine Industry, 1974
Joseph Phelps, Joseph Phelps Vineyards: Classic Wines and Rhone Varietals,
Lucius Powers, The Fresno Area and the California Wine Industry, 1974
Victor Repetto and Sydney J. Block, Perspectives on California Wines, 1976
Edmund A. Rossi, Italian Swiss Colony and the Wine Industry, 1971
Edmund A. Rossi, Jr., Italian Swiss Colony, 1949-1989: Recollections of a
Third-Generation California Winemaker, 1990
Arpaxat Setrakian, A. Setrakian, a Leader of the San Joaquin Valley Grape
Elie Skofis, California Wine and Brandy Maker, 1988
David S. Stare, Fume Blanc and Meritage Wines in Sonoma County: Dry Creek
Vineyard's Pioneer Winemaking, 1996
Rodney S. Strong, Rodney Strong Vineyards: Creative Winemaking and Winery
Management in Sonoma County, 1994
Andre Tchelistchef f , Grapes, Wine, and Ecology, 1983
Brother Timothy, The Christian Brothers as Wine Makers, 1974
Janet and John Trefethen, Trefethen Vineyards, 1968-1998, 1998
Louis (Bob) Trinchero, California Zinfandels, a Success Story, 1992
Charles F. Wagner and Charles J. Wagner, Caymus Vineyards: A Father-Son Team
Producing Distinctive Wines, 1994
The Wente Family and the California Wine Industry, interviews with Jean,
Carolyn, Philip, and Eric Wente, 1992
Ernest A. Wente, Wine Making in the Livermore Valley, 1971
Warren Winiarski, Creating Classic Wines in the Napa Valley, 1994
Albert J. Winkler, 7iticultural Research at UC Davis (1921-1971), 1973
Frank M. Woods, Founding Clos Du Bois Winery: A Marketing Approach, 1998
John H. Wright, Domaine Chandon: The First French-owned California Sparkling
Wine Cellar, includes an interview with Edmond Maudiere, 1992
INTERVIEW HISTORY--Frank M. Woods
Frank Woods, founder and former owner of Clos du Bois winery, was
interviewed as part of the Wine Spectator's California Wine Oral History
Series to document his career and contributions to the history of
As one of the founders of the Clos du Bois winery- -the winery name
echoes his name in FrenchFrank Woods approached the business in an
unusual way: he developed the label before there was any winemaking
facility. It was an approach that reflected his expertise and
As the son of hotel managers, Woods grew up in a hotel and
graduated from Cornell University's School of Hospital Administration,
but took his skills to Procter & Gamble's marketing department. P&G was
on the cutting edge of techniques for brand management. "I was
fascinated by the idea of developing brand value through your ability to
create an image and sell that image to the public," Woods recalls. It
was a concept he never forgot.
After serving a hitch in the U.S. Army in Korea, Woods was sent by
P&G to California to their Clorox plant, and when that closed, he
decided to become an entrepreneur. He started several small market
companies, and with some partners, developed the Breckenridge Ski
While that was in the final stages, Woods and his partners began
buying vineyards in the Alexander and Dry Creek valleys in Sonoma
County. His plan was to develop a low-volume house with multiple shelf
facings in retail outlets in order to have an impact on the consumer.
Called the Winery on Wheels, because the wine was made at other
facilities, Clos du Bois quickly acquired consumer accolades for its
consumer-friendly wines. From 1974, the year of its first bottled
vintage, until 1988, when it was sold to Hiram Walker, Frank Woods
guided its growth, guarded its reputation for quality wines, and found
ways to make Clos du Bois unique to its customers. In addition, he has
participated in many industry-related activities.
Woods was interviewed on January 5, 7, and 13, 1998, in his
offices high above the San Francisco financial district. He made
scrapbooks and documents available during the interviews, and was prompt
in providing photographs and copies of labels for the final volume. He
reviewed the transcript carefully and made few changes.
This series is part of the ongoing documentation of California
history by the Regional Oral History Office, which was established in
1954 to augment through tape-recorded memoirs the Library's materials on
the history of California and the West. Copies of all interviews are
available for research use in The Bancroft Library and in the UCLA
Department of Special Collections. The office is under the direction of
Willa K. Baum, Division Head, and the administrative direction of
Charles B. Faulhaber, James D. Hart Director of The Bancroft Library,
University of California, Berkeley.
August 28, 1998
Regional Oral History Office
Regional Oral History Office University of California
Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720
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[Interview 1: January 5, 1998]
Growing up in a Hotel
Hicke: Let's start this morning with something about your background.
I'll ask you first when and where you were born.
Woods: I was born March 31, 1933, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My folks
were in the hotel business. When I was about eighteen months, my
father was offered a hotel in Birmingham, Alabama, and we moved
from Tennessee to Alabama.
When we moved to Birmingham we decided to live in the
penthouse of the hotel. It just happened to have accommodations
that my folks thought were suitable for raising a family. So for
the entire time that I was in Birmingham, which was up until 1942
when I was nine, we lived in the hotel.
Growing up in a hotel had a lot of interesting experiences for
a young child. For example, my nanny was the wife of the captain
of the bellmen, and she was a college graduateone of the few
black women in that era who had graduated from college. She had
taken her teaching credentials. So, at eighteen months she turned
me into a guinea pig student, I guess.
Hicke: Putting her theories into practice?
Woods: As a result, by the time I was two I could go through the entire
alphabet and could read the letters in the newspaper and certain
words in the newspaper and began to identify, while walking down
the streets, the names of the automobiles. Also, interestingly
l it This symbol indicates that a tape or tape segment has begun or
ended. A guide to the tapes follows the transcript.
enough, I wanted to go into drug stores and point out the
cigarette packages. I wanted to look at the different labels and
see if I could identify what each brand was. This would have been
the labels that they had and the recognition, again, of this
alphabet that she had taught me .
It was things like that, plus the fact that on my first day of
school in the downtown area- -which is sort of the ghetto area of
Birmingham, the public school there--! had gotten beaten up,
because I was the only kid with shoes on in the school. When I
came home, my father said, "We're not going to send you there
anymore." So he sent me to another public school but out in the
It was actually like a little high school. It was a rather
good public school we called Lakeview Grammar School. The hotel
bellman drove me to and from school. They loved to make the drive
out every morning, and then in the evening after school they would
be sitting there at the school waiting to pick me up. So I had
kind of a chauffeur and a limousine. The kids used to love to
pile into the car and come downtown to the hotel.
Hicke: From your school?
Woods: From school. Then their fathers, who were working downtown, would
pick them up after they finished their work. Meanwhile, we would
play in the hotel, on a playground. We had little things to do.
I learned to make friends with the chef, so that when we would
come down, we would go to the drug store, and for one penny we
could buy an empty cone. Then we would go to the kitchen and the
chef would give us as many scoops of ice cream as we wanted for
free on top of that cone. I became a great hero, [laughter]
because of this ability to supply unlimited ice cream cones for a
penny to the kids at school.
But I enjoyed living in the hotel. I enjoyed the personnel.
I started working at a very early age down in the scullery,
cleaning vegetables and peeling potatoes and shelling peas and the
things that a young lad can do.
When World War II started, my father was exempt, because he
had four children, but at the same time, we had a hotel that we
were involved with in Orlando, Florida. So we moved to Orlando
where I went to junior high school, through the eighth grade.
Then at the end of the war in 1946, my father took over the
Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, and I moved to Nashville and
entered my freshman year in high school.
While I was in Birmingham I had a unique situation. Mrs.
Taylor, my first grade teacher, was a wonderful author. I think,
combined with this nanny at eighteen months, and having Mrs.
Taylor when I was six, my education was really intense in the
first few years of my life. She took a group of us about four in
her class and said, "You have gone so far in reading, in the
three R's here--" She had given us such intense training that she
convinced the administration that it would be a waste of our time
to go through the second grade, that she had already given us all
we could learn in the second grade. So we went straight into
third grade. So when we got into the fourth grade, they decided
to use our school as a locus for a special class of students from
all over the city of Birmingham. The four of us and about sixteen
others from around the city were put into a class skipping to the
fifth grade, which was rather advanced in terms of the activities.
They gave us a lot of field trips and a lot of outside activities.
So when I left to go down to Orlando, I guess when I was about
nine, by that time I was probably two years ahead in school of
most of the other kids my age.
Cornell University Hotel School; 1950-1954
Woods: After I graduated from high school in Nashville I had elected to
go to Cornell to the hotel school.
Hicke: Did you stay two years ahead? So you graduated at sixteen or
Woods: No, I'd just turned seventeen at the graduation, because that
would have been 1950. I was sixteen when I was accepted at
Cornell, and the big question was: can you come into Cornell at
just barely seventeen against these eighteen- and nineteen-year-
olds that are there? My folks even thought about holding me out
of college for a few years, but they decided, "Okay, you want to
do it," and the hotel school had agreed to take me. So I went to
Hicke: You clearly were interested in the hotel business because you had
Woods: Right, right, but as I got into the hotel school, I discovered
that as much as I enjoyed the activities of the hotel field, I was
finding them to wear a little bit thin. I was looking for
something more in terms of business than just the hotel itself.
Hicke: It wasn't challenging?
Woods: I think the challenge was there, but-- There were a lot of
things. One, I began to realize, as my father had, that as a
hotel man you are always going to be busy when everybody else is
playing. While your family is playing, you're going to be
working. Your time is just the opposite of where the rest of the
world is operating, because you are responsible for their
entertainment and their hospitality.
Hicke: Weekends are the busiest.
Woods: Weekends and evening parties and the whole thing.
Hicke: Christmas and New Year's.
Woods: I decided to just do it, but I wanted to look at other areas. So
in my senior year at Cornell, I began the exploration of looking
at different businesses. I interviewed with IBM, General
Electric, and with Minnesota Mining [& Manufacturing Company] . I
enjoyed going out to these corporate headquarters. In 1954 they
were really interested in finding young management material. As a
result, I was invited to fly all over the country to talk to the
executives in these large corporations. Procter & Gamble invited
me down to Cincinnati.
Hicke: Let me just interrupt a minute. They assumed that hotel
management would be applicable to whatever kinds of management
that they wanted? Or did you have a broader background?
Woods: The last two years at Cornell I took almost no hotel school
Hicke: Okay, so you broadened your curriculum.
Woods: But I didn't take business courses. I took more arts courses,
history courses, science courses, but I did not get into any
business-school-type courses. Cornell's business school was not
that heavy. I don't even remember that the business school
existed then. I'm sure there was something. The hotel school was
about as close to a business school, I think, as Cornell had--
certainly at the undergraduate leveland I'm not sure we had
opened up a graduate degree in business at that point.
We did have graduate degrees in something called Industrial
and Labor Relations [ILR]. We were a big training ground for
personnel executives and people who were going to go into
corporations to deal with unionsthat type of thing. But as far
as the general business school, Harvard was still the one that
everybody looked to.
Hicke: Yes, well, anyway, you graduated with sort of a broad background,
Woods: Yes, I think broader than the average hotel student, but I
certainly did not have a B.A. degree. I graduated with a B.S. in
Hicke: What kinds of courses does that involve?
Woods: Accounting, engineering, food preparation. We didn't have wine
courses in those days. We had personnel administration courses
and then the rest of it is optional liberal arts.
II WORKING FOR PROCTER & GAMBLE
Joining the Company
Woods: When I got to Procter & Gamble they had an interview on campus
and then they invited me to come down to Cincinnatithey were
very smart; they put me immediately together with an ex-
Cornellian, a gentleman named Hal Payne, who was also not only an
ex-fraternity brother who had graduated a dozen years before I
had, but he knew some of the overlapping Cornellians that 1 knew,
so we had some immediate friends in common.
Hicke: What fraternity?
Woods: Sigma Phi. I think we have a chapter at Berkeley. There are only
about ten chapters in the United States, and I think one is at
Berkeley, one's at UVA, and William & Mary. It's the second or
third oldest fraternity in the country, along with Kappa Alpha.
Anyway, it supposedly is the second or third oldest.
Hicke: And this Hal Payne was--
Woods: Was a Sigma Phi at Cornell.
Hicke: At Cornell, yes.
Woods: So we spent the weekend with his family, and he was really very
open about everything at P&G, and he knew the hotel school, and he
knew what kind of courses I had taken.
Woods: He said, "You know, I think rather than you talking to the
personnel department or talking to our sales department in hotel
sales"--because they did have an institutional sales division--"!
want you to come down to my department and talk about brand
So the next week I went down and spent two or three days
talking to advertising managers and brand managers in the
different departments. They had the food department: Crisco, and
they didn't have a peanut butter then, but they were just
beginning to get into Duncan Mines cake mixes. They had a soap
department, which was the big department. It was made up of Tide,
Camay, Ivory, and Cheer- -a lot of the brands that you know. Then
they had a drug department, which was just in its infancy, but
they were developing toothpasteCrest . They had shampoos like
Prell and Dream and some others, but they wanted to get bigger and
bigger in that field. I was just fascinated by the entire idea of
creating brands and developing brand value through your ability to
create an image and sell that image to the public.
Hicke: Weren't they on the cutting edge of that concept?
Woods: Yes. I went back and did some research and discovered that they
were the leading marketers of brand management in the country, and
a lot of their people had gone on from Procter & Gamble into other
businesses. I knew that I didn't want to work for a large
corporation for my life's career, but I also wanted to find a
corporation where I could get the best experience at the kind of
work that I wanted to do and that would appeal to me. Procter &
Gamble seemed to fill that bill. So, when I graduated I joined,
went right to Cincinnati and was put into brand management work.
I worked as assistant brand manager on Tide at that point.
Hicke: Let me interrupt again. Can you attribute this concept of brand
marketing to any particular person or group?
Woods: Well, I think it basically started with Neil McElroy who became
secretary of Defense. It then was developed, expanded, by Howard
Hicke: Were they both at Procter & Gamble?
Woods: One was chairman and one was president when I joined. Their
disciples--people like Bill Snow and Pete Link (who was one of my
mentors), and Hal Payne--these were all people who in the early
fifties were the real leaders in this whole concept of brand
The brand management concept that P&G established was that
each brand became a separate company. As brand manager you
organized your own activities: you had your own packaging
department, your own chemists and scientists in their research
labs, you had your own intelligence groups that did the consumer
research, you dealt with the sales department. They sold all the
products, but you represented your product to them in terms of
creating sales material for them. You had your own advertising
agency, your own budget. You were responsible for every financial
element relating to that brand: the cost of the product, the cost
of the packaging, the cost of the marketing, anything that
affected that brand. It was as though it were an independent
Hicke: Each with its own profit center?
Hicke: I know something about the history of Bristol-Myers, and I know
they picked up on that eventually, but I don't remember exactly
Woods: You see, side by side with me at Tide was Bruce Gelb, who is--
Hicke: Oh yes, Clairol.
Woods: Yes. Bristol-Myers apparently acquired them some time after.
Then his brother became president of Bristol-Myers.
Hicke: Yes. That's how it did spread throughout--
Woods: General Foods picked it up by hiring a lot of people from P&G. At
one time they had a big battle with Howard Morgens, and he called
the president of General Foods and said, "Look, if you hire one
more of our marketing people, [laughter] I am going to launch a
major product against your highest profit division, the coffee
business, and we're going to make it hurt if you steal any more of
my people." General Foods kept pirating P&G people, and that is
how P&G came to acquire Folgers Coffee in San Francisco. There
were about eighty ex-Procter & Gamble employees at General Foods
at one time.
Hicke: That's really an interesting bit of information about the history
of merchandising, 1 would say.
Woods: Yes, it was a concept that, certainly post-World War II, really
came into its heyday. I think now there are many more innovations
that have happened since then, especially in terms of consumer
data. The minute you pick up a pack of Crest off that shelf, they
know the demographics of the person who bought it and how fast
you're going to use that tube, how much you use when you brush
your teeth. [laughter] The intensity of the data has certainly
changed a great deal. It still involves creativity, but I think
it was, in many ways, much more creative in those days.
Procter & Gamble always wanted facts. It was the one thing
where they did not allow you to speculate. Anything you wanted to
do you had to back up with facts, and if you didn't have the
facts, you had to go get them. You had to create a test market
and show that the product would sell before they would let you
expand into any kind of regional or national distribution.
Hicke: That's fascinating. What were your responsibilities?
Woods: I think my major responsibility was assistant brand manager on
Tide. In those days, Gelb and I split the brand.
Hicke: This was Bruce or Richard?
Woods: This was Bruce, I think. Richard was his older brotherthe one
who was president. Bruce is the one who was at P&G. He had just
graduated from Harvard Business School and had been there about a
year when I came, I think.
But we split the task. One would be in charge of packaging,
and another would be in charge of media. One would be in charge
of copy, the other would be in charge of consumer research. We
had a brand manager that we reported to, and then there was a
group manager that he reported to, and ultimately to the vice
president of soap marketing.
Hicke: So a group would be consisted of soaps, for instance?
Woods: There were about three groups within soap marketing. A group
would be about four or five brands. Within our group we had Mr.
Clean, Tide, Camay Bar Soap, and we had two or three products in
test. Dref c--that ' s right, there was a product called Dreft,
which was pink. It was a new product.
Military Service. U.S. Army
Woods: So anyway, for about six months I worked on Tide, and then the
army called me up for service in Korea. I had gone through the
R.O.T.C. [Reserve Officers Training Corps] at Cornell, then I went
off to Petersburg, VirginiaFort Lee at the quartermaster
training school there. After I graduated from that, they assigned
me to Korea, and I got there in the spring of '55.
Fortunately, by that time hostilities had calmed down and they
were not really shooting at each other in anger. There was still
the DMZ [demilitarized zone] that had guns facing both ways, but
it was a more relaxed atmosphere, I think. I was put in as a
company commander in one of the quartermaster depots with about
110 men, and they didn't have any captains. Captains were short,
so they put a second lieutenant in there as company commander, and
I was immediately thrown into having to supervise a whole bunch of
people and be responsible for about a hundred million dollars
worth of U.S. taxpayers' gear that was going to be used in
nonlethal ways. It was food and clothes and that type of thing
that we were supplying to the front lines.
Hicke: It's not what a second lieutenant is usually supposed to do.
Woods: It was a logistics position, really, trying to maintain the flow
of goods properly and maintain the accountability. The biggest
problem was the theft of yeast. That was the biggest problem.
Hicke: By the Koreans?
Woods: By the Koreans. They needed yeast for many of their dishes. We
were just having an impossible time getting our yeast up to our
depot so we could supply the mess kitchen. We decided finally
that we would go to the expense of putting $40,000 worth of yeast
in these two big metal containers a total of $80,000 in value.
Then we put their loading doors back to back on a flatbed so the
doors faced each other on the flatbed. We used these huge cranes
down at Pusan at the loading dock to put these containers in that
position, because they each weighed several tons. Then we put
armed guards up on top to keep people around the sides from using
their blowtorches or something to get into these containers. Then
we shipped it up north to where we were, which was about five
hundred miles, a three-day trip. When the containers got to the
depot, we had big cranes, and we offloaded them. We turned them
around and the seals were still intact on the containers. We
opened them up, and both of them were totally empty.
Hicke: What? [laughter]
Woods: It was the most incredible thing that had happened. We had
everything covered, and somehow or another--.
Hicke: You don't know how they did it?
Woods: We never found out.
Hicke: Did they drill up through the bottom?
Woods: All they know is there was a lot of army yeast on the black market
for the next six months. [laughter] Yeast suddenly dropped to an
all-time low in black market prices. But those were the kinds of
things we dealt with in 1955.
It was getting to the point that we were having morale
problems with the troops, because there really wasn't enough to
keep them busy. There certainly wasn't enough excitement to keep
them happy. With the exception of a dozen of the men in my
company, they were mostly nineteen or younger, so it was like
running a boys' camp in a way--a big boys' camp. So I decided to
organize a football team.
Do you remember the movie M.A.S.H., the original movie
M. A. S.H.I
Hicke: Yes, I didn't see it, but I know about it.
Woods: That could have been filmed in our depot.
Hicke: I was thinking about that when you were talking about these
Woods: We organized this football team and found in the roster that among
the dozen or so men that had some college experience, there was a
real hot halfback from the University of Houston, a real scatback,
and then there was another lieutenant in the company who had been
--I guess it was Pac 8 back in those days--a guard for the
University of Washington football team. Then we had several
others who had been stars in their high school. So we organized
this little football group, and we played the posts around us, and
pretty soon we beat everybody. I was the player-coach for the
Woods: We got a call from the general in charge of the infantry troops in
the DMZ, and he thought it would be good for the troops to have a
football tournament and invite the top teams from our area to come
up and play the top teams in their area and to have a sort of
playoff . So we went up and spent a week and won that tournament .
So then the head of the 8th Army, who was in Japan, decided
that he wanted an area-wide tournament. We were all invited to
come to Japan for a week for a playoff there, and we won that.
Then they decided that they would have an all-U.S. military
Far East tournament in Okinawa. So we went down to Okinawa. By
now, we were well into 1956. We were playing for Far Eastern
championship against the paratroopers in Okinawa, and in the third
or fourth play of the game, I got knocked out. We won the game,
but I only found out when I woke up in the hospital that we had
won the game and the championship for the Far East.
What had happened was they had broken my jaw with their big
paratrooper boots they were playing in. We were playing with
rather light ones, but they had been accustomed to wearing these
big heavy boots, and one of them had just kicked me right in the
jaw as I had gone down. I didn't know what had happened; I just
went out immediately.
I was the only officer beside the other lieutenant there, so I
was responsible for all these men. They got me back on a
stretcher, really, to Korea, to the camp, and the dentist there
looked at it and said, "You know, there's nobody in the Far East
who can take care of this. You've so shattered your jaw that
we're going to have to send you back to Walter Reed [Hospital] to
have it redone."
So they air-evacuated me back to Walter Reed where, for the
last two months of my military career, I was in a suite at Walter
Reed. My sole job was to report on every Friday, so that the
orthodontist could work on the molding together of my jaw and use
it as a board example for the young orthodontists. So I had to
have about twenty guys looking into my jaw every Friday morning,
but most of the time I was free to enjoy Washington, D.C., to go
wherever I wantedbecause I was ambulatory, it was just that I
couldn't--! had to--
Hicke: You couldn't enjoy the restaurants too much.
Woods: Right. I had to sip everything through a straw for a time. But I
didn't have a lot of pain, and it was almost like a two-month
vacation in Washington. By the time I finished up my tour, my two
years in the military had expired so I returned to Procter &
Back to Procter & Gamble, 1956
Hicke: This is '56?
Woods: Yes, the end of "56. 1 planned to go to Harvard Business School
when I got out of the army and then come back to Procter & Gamble,
but, because it was at the end of the year, I had a six-month
period before business school would start up. So they convinced
me that I should stay at Procter & Gamble and go into sales
training, which is what every brand manager had to do. Before you
can become the brand manager, you have to go out in the field and
work for six months in the field and see what it's like to sell to
the little Chinese grocer down the street and the big Safeway
buyer up in the office and go out and build displays of Tide and
put up posters and just really get your hands dirty in the whole
marketing business. Everybody from Neil McElroy to Howard Morgens
had done this. This was P&G's plan.
They sent me to Los Angeles for my sales training, and 1 had a
lot of fun. I really enjoyed Los Angeles, and I enjoyed the sales
activities. We set a few records in terms of sales for the
district, and I realized that sales is totally different from
marketing, because you get immediate recognition of your
accomplishments, whereas in marketing you plan a program, you put
it into effect, and six months from now you may, if you're lucky,
see some of that influence in the marketplace. You may see your
program influence people and the way they buy products.
Hicke: Reflected in the sales, is that right?
Woods: Yes. When you're selling out there you can measure, almost on a
weekly basis, what effect you had on the P&G brands in your store
versus what it was a year ago in that store.
Hicke: That's an interesting perspective.
Woods: Instant gratification. Then I came back to Cincinnati, and by
that time I had decided that I could learn as much at P&G about
what I wanted to do as I could by going to Harvard Business
School, and I would be further ahead two years from that date by
staying at P&G than I would by going to business school.
Having to do it again, I probably would have been better off
going to Harvard Business School, but at that point I was
convinced by the people at P&G. They were hiring a lot of Harvard
Business School people, and they convinced me that I would go
further in the company by having those two years there to get that
much further ahead of the guys coming in from BBS.
My son is at Tulane Business School, and I really encouraged
him to go back to business school after eight years out of
Georgetown [University]. I'm a great believer that that added
degree is helpful, especially after you've had some time out in
the real world.
But when I got back to P&G, I became a brand manager after
sales training on the development of a new product. It was a new
bar of soap. P&G believes that the more brands they can place in
a category, the bigger share of the market they will obtain.
Hicke: Even though they're competing against themselves?
Woods: Even though they're competing against their own brands. So they
had Ivory Bar, Zest Bar, and Camay Bar. Ivory floats, Zest has a
deodorant, and Camay is pink. [laughter] They gave me the job of
introducing a bar that had all those three things combined: a
floating, pink, deodorant bar which we called Dawn. I designed
the product, designed the packagingor I was in charge--! had a
staff of people that were working on all this. Then we created
the test markets in three different areasone East Coast, one
Midwest, and one West Coast market and we launched the product.
Then P&G decided they had just bought a company out here on
the West Coast called Clorox so they shipped me out here to be in
the marketing department of Clorox once we'd finished that test
market project, because I had been out here on the West Coast for
I got to San Francisco. We worked on the transition of
getting Clorox into the P&G mode, and then the FTC [Federal Trade
Commission] stepped in and said that P&G had to divest themselves
of Clorox, because they had created a monopoly in the bleach
business. By combining Clorox with all of their other soap-
related activities, they had too much of the grocers' shelf space
tied up in one company. So P&G elected to spin off Clorox as a
separate company and asked me to come back to Cincinnati. The
mistake was that they had allowed me to come to northern
California, and I didn't want to leave. [laughter] So I said,
"No, I think I'm going to stay out here."
III ENTREPRENEURIAL ENTERPRISES
Pine Mountain Log
Woods: That's when I started really getting involved in the
entrepreneurial end of my life and went into business with some
fellows down in South San Francisco. We started a company where
we took over a product that had been developed by a young- -well,
middle-agedscientist in Berkeley, one of these back-of-the-
garage type things. I don't know if you remember a company called
Dymo over there that made the label tapes.
Hicke: Oh yes.
Woods: That was a Berkeley company. Rudy Herwich was the guy who founded
Dymo, and somehow or another this inventor had been involved with
him in the development of that product and had left Dymo and had
started developing this fireplace log. It was a fireplace log
where you put fuel into the sawdust mix and then packaged it
inside a paper wrapper. You would light one match to it and get a
fire going. In those days he called it Pak-0-Fyr.
So he called some friends of mine and said, "Would you be
interested in taking over this product if I can acquire it and
launch it as a business?" Ned Eyre was my partner, my associate
in this. His grandmother was Gertrude Atherton, the famous
writer. It was Ned and a fellow named Norm Hunter who had a
company called the Hunter Container Corporation. They made big
tin containers for specialty products like ink, things that had
high acid content.
So the three of us started this company, but we decided that
the process was wrong. He was using a little crank case diesel
fuel, and it would leak out of the package at times and get all
over the grocer's floor. It would leak out of the fireplace and
cause all sorts of problems. Some of them exploded, because they
had little pockets of gas that had built up. There were a lot of
problems. The concept, though, was good. We tested and found
that it was an easy way to start a fire in the fireplace. The
other manufactured logs that were out there at the time "Presto
Logs" were really hard to light, and natural woodunless it was
two or three years oldwas very green and very difficult to
So we went out and did some consumer research on names, and we
selected the name Pine Mountain Log. Then we designed a package
that sort of resembled a log on the outside of the package, but on
the front of the label was a nice mountain scene with pine trees,
etc. We put some fragrance into the product and a little bit of
color sparkles so that the flames were a little more colorful than
usual, and we marketed this product and developed it into quite a
successful product up and down the West Coast.
However, we could only ship maybe five hundred miles at the
maximumto Los Angeles or Seattle; that was about the range.
Some went to Denver. To expand we needed another plant: one in
the Midwest and perhaps one in the East. So we sold that company
to the Shackel family- -Ethel Kennedy's family. They own a company
called Great Lakes Carbon, and one of their products was charcoal.
They used to fill up their warehouses and their plants around the
country with charcoal in the wintertime, because they sold it in
the summertime. But in the summertime they had empty warehouses.
Our problem was that we had to build up our inventory in the
summertime and then we sold it out and had empty warehouses in the
wintertime. So they bought it and expanded it to the Midwest and
East Coast, built factories, and it became a national product.
Hicke: I assume you solved the problems of the leakage.
Woods: Yes. What we did was we went to Standard Oil of California and
got them to supply us with a better fuel. At that time, milk
cartons were wax cartons, and they had just developed a
polyethylene plastic that didn't have all that waxy stuff that
caked off into your glass. That was sort of an undesirable thing.
So they had built up this huge pipeline supply of slack wax to wax
these cartons and had nothing to do with it. We went to their
chemists and said, "Is there some way that we could use this wax
to penetrate the wood fiber, so it's not just coating the wood but
actually goes inside?" So they developed a process of heat and
chemicals that actually opened up the pores of the sawdust and
allowed the wax to go inside and created an ability so that when
the log burned, it tended to burnas the temperature reached a
certain level, it would vaporize and provide fuel for the flames.
But it was like a turkey cooking the temperature would gradually
move toward the center, and the vaporization, therefore, would
keep the log burning for two to three hours before it burned out,
because it only vaporized at a certain temperature. You would
have a three-pound log that would fill up the fireplace when you
started, but at the end it would be ashes that would fit in the
palm of your hand.
Hicke: That would be nice.
Woods: Because it was total combustion.
Hicke: How did you find out about this wax?
Woods: Just conversations with people in the fuel business. I knew that
we had to change the fuel, and I went out and did some research
and started knocking on doors until we found it.
Hicke: Oh, you were actually looking.
Woods: Standard Oil was delighted. This was a great way for them to use
up another product that they had on their shelf. But that sort of
led me to another project.
Hicke: When did you sell this company?
Woods: It must have been about 1964, because I had started up a company
called Marketing Continental. I rolled the funds from the Pine
Mountain Log company into a company that was designed to take
products like Pine Mountain Log, which had been developed through
the research labs of big companies like Standard Oil, and put them
into the marketplace. So we searched around and went to
Carnation, and they referred me to a little company down there
that they were supplying some products to. We took this product
into a broad distribution. It was sort of the predecessor of
Instant Breakfast. It was called Tiger's Milk, and it was a
nutritional product that you could mix with water or milk. We
developed that throughout health food stores, pretty much in the
Then we found a real opportunity. Some people with Shell
Chemical Company came to me and said, "We have some products in
our laboratories that we think have consumer potential, but we
don't have any kind of over-the-counter marketing force. Will you
see if there is something that you can do for us?" So I went in
and looked and found the product that they were using industrially
with a base of something called colenstuase that literally caused
the nerves of certain flying insects to go crazy, to lose control,
and the bugs would lose their ability to fly and would die. They
were using them in manufacturing plants where they needed to have
very good insect control and where they couldn't go in spraying
all the time with poison. Anyway, this was incorporated into a
plastic product that could exude this material over several weeks.
We created from that a product called Shell No-Pest Strip, and
we packaged it for the consumer and launched it in a test market
and then spread it throughout the country. Very quickly, we were
the largest-selling insecticide in the United States. We
developed over a $25-million-a-year business. The product got big
enough that Shell said, "We want to put our own sales force
together." I had developed about twelve hundred broker salesmen
around the country to market this product, so we then trained a
bunch of sales managers for Shell and turned them into the
marketing force that Shell needed for this and other products.
That product developed some safety problems, and I think it
went off the market, but at least for that period of time, it was
a very successful product. We developed several other products as
well, and then I sold that company to an outfit back in
Hicke: The marketing company?
Woods: Yes. And then I went into business with Tom Reed developing the
Breckenridge Ski Resort.
Developing the Breckenridge Ski Resort
Hicke: Tell me about how that got started. How did you meet Tom?
Woods: Tom and I had been at Cornell together. We were classmatesor
Tom was a year behind me, I think, but we were both there at the
same time. His first wife, Leslie, was a classmate of mine. In
fact, when I had first come out here with Procter & Gamble, I had
stayed with Tom and Leslie in their home out in Pleasanton when he
was with the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory.
We had both been involved in the Goldwater campaign. We had
been advance men for the Goldwater presidential campaign in "64.
Then in '66, we ran Ronald Reagan's gubernatorial campaign, and he
was elected governor of California. Tom was vice chairman of
northern California [campaign], and in '66 I was chairman of the
Democrats for Reagan. I think that's it. The '66 and '70
campaigns get a little mixed up. Then I became vice chairman in
'70, and that's when I became president of the State Personnel
Boardfrom '70 to '80. I was appointed by Reagan to the
Personnel Board. So that political phase lasted from '64 to '80,
and Tom and I were tied in together politically.
Hicke: You're a Democrat?
Woods: No, I wasn't a Democrat, but they needed somebody to get all the
Democrats on board, and I guess I just enjoyed dealing with people
of a different persuasion. The head of it was a fellow who was
president of the Dollar Steamship Lines at that time--a big
Democrat. He had been back in the Johnson administration, and
before that, in the Roosevelt administration. He was one of
Robert Dollar's right-hand men during the war. Then the other one
is Ed Daly, CEO of World Airways in the East Bay. He was part of
my committee. And then Frank Sinatra was the third one. They
were sort of my co-chairmen. Our job was to have fundraising
events with them around the country, around the state, to try to
bring support in for Ronald Reagan.
California Political Campaigns, 1966-1970
Woods: In 1966, Tom and I had been involved in the Reagan campaign. In
1968, we were involved in a Reagan for President campaign.
Because I had a Southern connection, I took over the eleven
Southern states to try and corral delegates for the Miami
Ronald Reagan was a favorite son from California that year at
the Republican convention. We were within a hundred votes of
getting the nomination for him on that first ballot, and I was
involved in a bunch of states who felt extremely loyal to the
ideology that Reagan had. They were very strongly for him and the
conservative message that he had been carrying here in California,
and it fit. I felt like we could take all of the eleven states,
and if we got all those eleven statesor the vast majority of
themwe could win the nomination and take it away from Nixon on
that first ballot.
We got to Miami and went around to each of the caucuses , but
after every caucus that we met with in the Southern delegation,
Jesse Helms would come in right behind us and promise the Southern
states that they were going to have the veto power over Nixon's
first Supreme Court nominee. They couldn't select him, but if
they didn't want him, they could veto him. So there was a
definite problem there. When the votes were counted, virtually
every one of the Southern delegates had voted for Nixon, and I
have to ascribe it to the fact that Helms just did a better job of
lobbying that group than I did of selling them on Ronald Reagan.
Hicke: Why were they so interested in a Supreme Court nominee?
Woods: You have to realize this was 1968. The riots were going on in
Watts. Lieutenant Governor Finch had to fly back from the
convention to deal with the Watts riots. The South just felt,
coming out of the Lyndon Johnson era, that they needed the
judicial control more than anything else, any other aspect. Tom
and I started the Breckenridge project in 1969 when we bought the
Rounds & Porter Lumber Company and began the ski resort
California State Personnel Board. 1970-1980
Woods: Breckinridge was a project that intensified in the summertime
because of construction, then there was a lot of vacant time for
the rest of the year. So, this gave me the opportunity to serve
on the State Personnel Board, which is considered a job where you
are compensated for a third of your time. You probably put in
more than 50 percent of your time, but it's just one of those paid
political appointee positions that is not full time.
So that made sense for me at that time, and simultaneously I
began to--I don't know whether it was because I was driving past
Davis every day or just because I was beginning to see some
opportunities, but I started thinking about the California wine
Hicke: I'm going to change the tape here.
Woods: It was 1970. The way the State Personnel Board works is that
every two years the governor has an appointee that he can make on
the State Personnel Board; so in his first term, he had appointed
two people to the five-person State Personnel Board, and I became
his third appointee. At that point, we were the majority, and we
were now able to make sure that the Reagan policies could be
implemented at the personnel level for the state.
The challenge of the State Personnel Board has always been to
use the facilities of the personnel function of the state to
attract talent to work for the state, but also to eliminate the
flaky appointments of the politicians, to use the civil service
process to create a legitimate meritorious system of promotion.
With the huge employment that exists for the California state
government, invariably there are political pressures to try and
get people under their wing or make them beholden to a political
person in power or to get them to do certain things within their
department which are considered politically advantageous to the
elected official and move away from their independent status as a
legitimate functionary of the people of California.
Hicke: Are you talking about appointments that are made by the
administration? Or are we talking about civil service jobs?
Woods: Civil service. I mean, the appointments clearly had a lot of
political connection, and there's not a great deal you can do
about that except try to hold them down to a minimum. But there
are certain jobs that have policy-making and are confidential by
nature that should be appointed and not processed by the civil
service program. But, on the other hand, it is also a problem
that when you get a protective mechanism like civil service in
there, you can build up a lot of dead wood if you don't maintain
some meritorious requirements. Therefore, the State Personnel
Board is in charge of the testing, setting the compensation for
the different job levels, and for playing a judicial role when
somebody feels they've been discriminated against or have not
received the promotion that they should have received. We serve
as their court of last resort within the administrative system.
You can go beyond us out into the legal courts if you want to.
That became a very fascinating ten-year period, because I
served for four years under Ronald Reagan, and then for six years
under Jerry [Edmund G. Jr.] Brown. Because I was president of the
personnel board when Jerry Brown came into office, I had to deal
directly with him on a lot of issues, because he was intent on
establishing his mark on the state and felt that the essence of
control of the state was with the State Personnel system. So he
called me into his office once, and he said, "I want you to tell
me everything I need to know about the State Personnel system," he
said, "because I'm convinced that you have a little black box over
there, and that if I can find the key to that little black box,
I'll learn how to run this government and how to make it function
to my way of thinking." Small is better, etcetera, etcetera.
At one point he had said, "I want to have a think-tank session
with you." He said, "I want to have a brainstorming session with
you. Will you come up from San Francisco and spend the day with
I said, "Yes, is anybody else going to be there, or just
He said, "No, I'm going to have my guru." Barzaghi was his
name? Jacques Barzaghi, I think, was his zen master, his sort of
I said, "Well, if you're going to do that, then I think I
should have a guru, also. I'm not really well acquainted with
So I asked Kevin Starr, who was a friend of mine--he has a
daughter in my daughter's class in the Sacred Heart Conventto
join me. We drove over and the four of us spent several hours in
the governor's office talking about papal encyclicals in the
sixteenth century and how that related to the Marxist philosophy
of from each according to his ability, to each according to his
needyou know, this whole philosophy that Brown was espousing--
and trying to see how he could work it into the hundred thousand-
plus state employees and the millions of dollars worth of salary
that we had out there. He couldn't understand why a woman working
in an eight-hour position in a role as a secretary was making less
than a guy on a Caterpillar snowplow up in the mountains moving
snow off the roads for eight hours a day. There's a tremendous
difference, but it wasn't because she was a woman, really; it went
beyond that at that point. It was because of the function that
the marketplace puts on the risk factors and the skills needed and
the hardship, perhaps, of moving that snow around versus sitting
at a desk in an office. It could have been a woman moving the
snow, but the snow mover got twice the hourly compensation of the
person behind the desk.
Jerry couldn't understand this. He couldn't understand why
we, being one of the largest employers in the state, couldn't set
equal rates and make the rest of the world come to us.
Hicke: I wonder the same thing about basketball players sometimes,
Woods: There are a lot of inequities, perhaps, in the marketplace, but
the point is that the marketplace has a better ability to
determine that than the governor of the state sitting in his
office. You certainly would create nothing but chaos if you
suddenly declared that everybody would get equal pay for equal
amounts of time worked. I know Jerry Brown didn't believe in it,
but he wanted to test it to see how far in that direction he could
Hicke: That's a classic Jerry Brown story. He really did operate that
Woods: Well, basically the biggest changes that we had were imposed upon
us. During the Brown administration, we were put into a position
of collective bargaining, which we didn't have before. He put
collective bargaining into his platform. At the department level,
Rose Bird was in charge of the State Personnel Board. She agreed
to a collective bargaining system with the California State
Employees Association, which was the first time that we had had
collective bargaining for state employees in California. We at
the Personnel Board fought it, but once Governor Brown got his
three appointees in, in the ninth and tenth year of my tenure,
then he had control.
Hicke: On the Personnel Board?
Woods: On the Personnel Board, and then he got his collective bargaining
The other aspect that I found most interesting was serving on
the Public Employees Retirement System Board as the State
Personnel Board's representative. We were rapidly becoming the
largest pension fund in the country and were producing in the
neighborhood of a million dollars a day that needed to be
invested. It's now considerably greater than that. It was a fund
that had been restricted in terms of what it could invest in,
limited in its ability to go into equities and other sorts of
venture investments. We were running out of places where you
could put the money and adhere to the kind of strict credentials
that the legislature had put in. So we began to liberalize that
by getting permission to increase the percentage of equities,
which when you look at the market over the last ten years or even
fifteen years, that was the smartest thing that the PERS could
have done, because that's where the growth of the investment
dollar has been. I think that is the primary factor behind the
tremendous success that that fund has had over the last couple of
Hicke: What about South Africa? Was that after the time you were on the
Woods: That was after. We did belong to this group of people that were
studying South Africathe Kellogg group or something. It was a
black minister that headed up a program that would look at the
company's personnel and hiring policies in South Africa and their
treatment of black employees, and then put corporations on the
approved list. We followed that, pretty much. It was not the
result of any great pressure from any of our employees, and it was
not an issue that was discussed very much until after I left in
1980 it became a touchy issue.
Hicke: What about the United Farm Workers? Were you involved in that
Woods: United Farm Workers were there, but it really didn't affect the
State Personnel Board. It was more of the Agriculture Labor
Relations Board that had to deal with that. I would perhaps by
that time have had a conflict of interest, being more and more in
the farming mode.
Hicke: One more question. Who were some of the people that you worked
with on the Personnel Board?
Woods: Rich Camilli was the director for the first few years.
Unfortunately, I didn't review my Personnel Board files for this
Hicke: Yes. I didn't know you were on that, so I didn't have it on the
Woods: All the directors from 1970 and 1980 were very competent, very
effective managers. I think we had one of the best staffs in the
state government. They certainly kept a lot of problems from
getting into crisis level by handling them very adroitly and
keeping the system as meritorious as you could, and, at the same
time, causing the employees to feel that they had a stake in the
state government, that they took pride in the kind of work that
they were doing, that they would help weed out the dead wood
themselves by just jawboning the bad employees. It was a positive
attitude, generally speaking, even though we obviously were in a
downsizing mode. The moment the Reagan administration moved in,
we were pressing to get every department to drop 10 percent of
their employee staff. I felt good about that period of time, but
especially about the quality of staff at the State Personnel
Hicke: How about other board members?
Woods: Other board members were good. There was Nita Ashcraft, who was a
Reagan appointee. Nita and I worked very closely together because
we had worked on the Reagan campaign together.
Hicke: Well, that's mainly what I meant. I'm just sort of asking what
stands out in your mind.
More on Breckenridge
Hicke: All right. Can we just discuss Breckenridge today and then start
with the wine and vineyards next time?
Woods: Breckenridge was a project that began when Tom was approached by
some United Airlines people, through his uncle, Lawrence Reed, in
Houston, Texas. A group of investors down there that had
successfully developed a large real estate project called Fondran
Farms. The United Airlines people had been largely responsible
for putting on a successful campaign to win the Winter Olympics
for Denver in the late seventies. They, at the same time, wanted
to develop Breckenridge as a destination ski resort. It was a
local ski area at that time. They went in and acquired the rights
to buy the private property around the town of Breckenridge and
the mountain leases that were available through the park service
for skiing, but they ran out of money. So, through this Fondran
Farms and Tom Reed's uncle, they contacted us and talked us into
coming out and taking a look at it.
We decided that it was a project that we could handle without
having to devote our full time to it, because Tom was now
appointment secretary for Reagan, and I was getting ready to go on
the Personnel Board. We were involved in the gubernatorial
campaign of '70 when this project came up. So we knew that this
was something we could do after the campaign.
We went up to look at Breckenridge, and the folks from United
Airlines had been smart enough to bring in the master architect of
Snowmass, Colorado, a fellow named Fritz Benedict, to design a
planned unit development for the entire Breckenridge ski area. We
got the Aspen Ski Corporation to come in and agree to run the
facilities on the mountain, because we certainly did not know
anything about running ski lifts. For that, we built them a huge
terminal facility with a cafeteria and office space and a first
aid facility, a ski rental shop, et cetera. We also built them a
parking lot of about twenty acres. All this for a dollar a year
rent for ninety-nine years, with the commitment from them that
they would spend close to fifty million dollars on ski lifts and
mountain facilities. We had the surrounding land, which we
planned to turn into condominiums and hotels and shops and
So that was the plan. In 1971 we decided that we had to prime
the pump on the condominium and the commercial development, so we
built a little initial project called the Four Seasons Village
Center, which had some shops and our offices in it. We built the
first approximately one hundred condominium units in three
buildings: Snowdrop, Snowdallion, and Columbine. All the
buildings in this first development area were named after wild
flowers in the Rocky Mountains .
We also were selling lots to other developers some from
Texas, some from New York, some from Chicagowho were building
condominium units, or planned to build condominiums after they
could see if we were successful in selling them. We launched a
marketing program and sold these initial condominium units, with
the idea that the other developers would build maybe three
thousand condominium units after we had primed the pump.
That project was designed to be completed between 1970 and the
beginning of the year of the Winter Olympics- -about 1972, I think
--and then Attorney General Richard Lamb later Governor Lamb-
launched a campaign to rescind the Olympics in Colorado on the
grounds that it was going to be damaging to the environment, that
it was going to be expensive for the state, and that it was just
something that Coloradans had not had a chance to express their
point of view on. The United Airlines guys and the powers-that-be
in Denver had gone to the Olympic Committee and sold them on
coming to Colorado without a plebescite. There was an anti-
Olympic feeling at that point around the state, so the vote went
against us, and the Olympics, with less than four years to
prepare, were suddenly without a home. That's when they
immediately went to Lake Placid, where they had had the Winter
Olympics before, and Lake Placid readily accepted them, and
Colorado lost the Winter Olympics. It was probably forever. I
know they've been to Salt Lake City, but that's about as close as
the Winter Olympics will ever get to Colorado after that fiasco.
In the meanwhile, it left us hanging dry, because we had made
this commitment based on the business that was going to be
developed by the Winter Olympics. So now the sale of condominiums
slowed down and sale of our lots slowed down. Instead of being in
and out of there in four years, our project now lasted about eight
years, so it was twice as long as we had expected. Nevertheless,
it did eventually succeed and we did eventually sell all of the
properties that we had intended to. Breckenridge, I think, is now
a good, solid destination resort.
Hicke: Has it been taken over by one of those large corporations? I know
you sold it first.
Woods: The last sale was to a developer in San Diego who came in and
bought all the remaining inventory. We had sold most of the
properties except for the center of the village, which was to be a
high-rise hotel with major shops sort of a core facility which
was the logical thing to do last, because you needed to have a
market built up before you put in a Harriot or a Hyatt or a Hilton
Hotel. I think everything is now built. I haven't been up there
in a dozen years, so I can't speak for it firsthand, but people
who have homes there tell me that it's really a pleasant family
resort now, with a lot of people that come in from around the
world during the winter season.
Let me ask you if you can give me some specific examples about
exactly what your part in this was. I assume it was in marketing.
It was in marketing. Tom was doing the financing, and my job was
to work with the contractors to design the product to make it fit
with what the marketplace wanted. In fact, Leslie Reed was very
helpful in a lot of the architectural stuff. I think she
subsequently went back to architectural school after this. She
and I worked with the contractor, who was from Marin County, Walt
Mineburger's company. He sent one of his right-hand men to live
there, and he liked it so well that he subsequently left Walt and
started his own company and now is a huge builder throughout the
Rocky Mountain area.
My function really was more to find ways of marketing the
product of the individual condominiums, and, at the same time,
help to create a program for Breckenridge overall, to gradually
get the citizens of Breckenridge involved. At one point we hired
Jean Claude Killey, the Olympic ski champion, to be our local ski
guru. His contract called for his spending twenty-five days of
winter there and to be involved in the ski school and to make his
presence known and to be a spokesman. He was just coming off
having won four or five gold medals in the previous Winter
Olympics. We also started building an interest in horseback
riding and Jeep tours so we could fill up the summer months and
try to create a year-round business for the area. Breckenridge
was just a little mining town with a couple of ski lifts when we
came there. In order to make it viable for all of these
condominium units and for all the commercial rental space, we had
to create a year-round business. That was one of the tasks that I
Did you do any market research?
did you go about this?
For instance, focus groups? How
We did some market research, mainly in the Colorado area. It was
too expensive to try and reach out to New York and Chicago and
Dallas. We figured that if we could make it successful to
Coloradans that we would ultimately fill up the bowl with the
outsiders. We created a program that the Forest Service bought
into, which was to recognize the fact that people who lived in
Denver could drive up for the weekend and ski at Breckenridge, but
people who lived in New York, et ceterathey were only going to
come for a period of at least five days, probably closer to ten,
because of the trouble in getting there. When they've spent that
kind of money to get out there, they should be given some kind of
ability to enjoy the facilities on crowded weekends when the
Denver people were up there. So we set up a system where if
someone bought a week-long pass, showing that they were there for
a vacation, then on weekends they got to go into a special line
that got them right on the lifts, whereas those that were there on
the day pass had to stand in line with all the big crowds.
flicker Oh, that was a good idea.
Woods: And it created a much better attraction. Even though it was
somewhat undemocratic and got a lot complaints from the locals- -
("These are our mountains. How can you give these outlanders
special privileges?")--it did create a draw for us with people
from out of town. Eventually, I think even the locals recognized
the wisdom of having something like that.
Woods: It gave us some recognition of the fact that we were responsible
for entertaining these out-of-state visitors and that we welcomed
them here as special guests.
Hicke: I'm sure that was very attractive to people coming from farther
away. Was that being done at other resorts?
Woods: Not that I know of. At least, at that time we felt like we were
fairly unique in starting this.
It was a fun time to be in Breckenridge, because it was still
a small community. We got to know a lot of the locals. I would
spend 100 percent of my time in the summer up there, and then
about 25 percent to 35 percent of my time in the winter. Once you
build the condominiums, you're involved. It no longer is that
great combination of the things you like to do--skiing and work-
now it has certain drawbacks to it. For instance, I remember
skiing down the slopes one day when I was cut off by a very irate
man who said, "You're Frank Woods, aren't you? You built the
Snowdrop Condominiums . I own number fourteen and my roof is
leaking!" [laughter] "Why are you up here skiing? I can't get
anybody to fix my roof . You ought to be down there working on
Hicke: You can't get away from your job.
Woods: Exactly. So I used to go to Vail and ski. [laughter]
Okay. Anything more on Breckenridge, then?
No, I think that's pretty much it. As I said, it was a much
longer, slower project than we anticipated when we got into it,
but, at the same time, for whatever reasonand we can go into
this in your next sessionit gave me a time opportunity to really
begin to really explore seriously this concept of premium wine
grapes in California.
As I said, when I was involved in the State Personnel Board in
the early seventies, I had begun to look into this, and I had
decided by 1971 that I really was going to make an investment in
the premium grape business in the northern California area, but I
needed to know a little bit more about it; so I started attending
classes at Davis, and I started talking to professors and looking
into real estate values in Napa and Sonoma and up into Mendocino
and Lake Counties. By the time I had made my first couple of
investments in vineyards in 1971, the rest of the group in
Breckenridge were beginning to ask me what was going on in this
California wine business and what I was doing out there. Over the
next couple of years they got intrigued enough that they said,
"Look, don't take all our money and send it back to us from the
Breckenridge project; let's start investing some of this money in
this California vineyard operation." Pretty soon we had the same
investors coming in and buying vineyard partnerships with us in
Was this Breckenridge a limited partnership type of
Yes. I think there was a corporate program that controlled all of
the land and the marketing of Breckenridge Ski Resort, but then
every time we set up an individual condominium project, we would
set it up as a limited partnership, or, in those days you had
something called Subchapter S corporations that were coming into
play that were treated from a liability standpoint as a
corporation, but from a tax standpoint were treated as a limited
Frank Woods, 1983, which was the year that
Clos Du Bois was selected as California's
Winery of the Year by the Club Manager's
Association of America.
1985, in celebration of exceeding 200,000
cases in sales.
IV CLOS DU BOIS WINERY
Beginning Interest in Wine
Hicke: Well, shall we take just a minute to maybe talk about your
interest in wine and how that got started?
Hicke: For instance, did you have wine when you were growing up?
Woods: I wouldn't say I had a lot of wine with my family. I don't think
it was a traditional drink around our table, but by the time I got
to Cornell I was very much aware of wine, and I would say I
consumed more wine at Cornell than I did any other beverage.
Hicke: That's interesting. Not a beer drinking group?
Woods: Well, there were some there, but the crowd that I was with--
especially at the hotel school- -tended to want to know more about
wine, because we felt like that was something that we were going
to have to sell when we got into the business.
Hicke: What kind of wine were you drinking?
Woods: I was drinking mostly wines that were produced in New York State
at the Hammondsport area, which means that it was all that Vitus
labrusca type. So I did not know what a foxy taste was until I
got out to California and realized that I'd been drinking foxy all
this time. [laughter] There were more sweet wines than dry
winesmore muscatels and ports and things like that than
burgundies and bordeaux.
Hicke: So you probably weren't tasting French wines?
Woods: No. It was not until the 1970s that I made my first trip to
Europe with my wife, and we made a studied tour of French wine
country. We started in Burgundy and went from Burgundy to
Bordeaux and from Bordeaux to Champagne and Champagne to Alsace
and met with winemakers and really got to know what the French
Hicke: Did this provoke your interest in vineyards? Or did this come
because of your interest?
Woods: I think it came because of my interest.
Hicke: The interest in the vineyards came first.
Woods: I had already made up my mind to invest in vineyardsor invest in
land that I would then convert to vineyards.
Hicke: Well, maybe this is a good place to stop.
Woods: All right.
Hicke: Thank you very much.
Acquisition of Vineyards
[Interview 2: January 7, 1998] ##
Let's begin today with your interest in California vineyards.
Woods: The interest in California vineyards. Actually, I the beginning
was that my wife with our three small children decided that one of
the things we should do was find a way to get the children out of
the cold fog of San Francisco summers.
We looked around for a summer home and thought about Tahoe and
the Monterey Peninsula. Her roommate in college was Cinda
Campbellher maiden name. She had come out to California and
married Charlie Crocker, and they had two girls, and she was also
interested in looking for a place in the wine country.
So the Crockers and the Woods went up to Napa and started to
spend some weekends up there looking at different properties. It
was very interesting, because most of the properties that we
looked at up there were clearly either in wine grapes or going
into wine grapes. The properties for existing lands without
vineyards were running five to ten thousand dollars an acre,
depending on their potential as a housing site, or with vineyards,
were perhaps running up toward the fifteen to twenty thousand
Hicke: Wasn't this how Dan Duckhorn got involved?
Woods: Well, Dan worked with Charlie in the early days after he bought
the Dorman homesite, which had been a winery back before
Prohibition. Then he and Cinda worked for years, meticulously
At the same time, Charlie had a business interest in vineyard
technology and vineyard nurseries. Dan was one of his employees,
as was, I think, Mike Rohan, who was part of that team, and maybe
Jim Lighter. I'm not sure who all was involved. There was a
business that Charlie had helped start and was somewhat involved
with, and Dan had something to do with before he got his own
Hicke: Your trips, then, were earlier than all this?
Woods: Right. This would have been in the mid-sixties, late sixties.
So, anyway, that was the first recollection that I have of
California winegrowing and realizing that if we were going to get
a place in the northern counties area, it was probably going to be
wise to look into the possibility of getting into wine grape
So then, as I mentioned previously, when we found that our
Breckenridge project was going to take longer than we had expected
and the cash flows were going to be slower than we had expected, I
began to look around for alternate investments. And combining the
two, looking for a place to have a summer home and a business
investment, led me into Sonoma County.
The first acquisition that I made was in 1970. It was the
purchase of some lands from the Wallace family in Dry Creek. They
had been there since the 19th century. In fact, I think the home
in which we presently live in Dry Creek was the birthplace of Mrs.
Wallace. She had a special attachment to it, but her husband had
died, and I think one of her children had been killed on the farm.
Her son was running the farm and was more or less in charge
economically, and it was just not what he wanted to do, it was not
making the profit that he felt it should.
He had converted, starting in 1964, some of the prune trees
into vineyards, and then it continued with more planting in '66
and some more in '68. Most of the conversions had been to premium
varietals, which was what I wanted to get into, so I thought this
was a good way to get started. There was Cabernet [Sauvignon],
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir; and those varieties seemed to be the ones
that had the best future.
So we bought out the Wallaces, but one of the requirements was
that the Wallace home itself, which is a small home in one of the
vineyards, was available to us, but the principal residence on the
property, which was where Mrs. Wallace livedhe insisted that she
have a lifetime tenancy on that property as part of the contract
of buying the place.
I agreed to that because I thought perhaps we could use the
smaller home for our summer accommodation for the children. But
as it turns out, it was going to be necessary to use that home to
find a good vineyard manager. In order to entice a good vineyard
manager, 1 had to offer him a place to live. So we set that home
aside for the vineyard manager to use.
For many, many years, my wife was frustrated that we had
started out in this business to find a summer home, but instead we
were going up there and spending weekends in motels while
operating a vineyard business. [laughter]
Hicke: Can you tell me how much the acreage was: how many acres and what
price you paid for it?
Woods: Well, there were several different vineyard locations--! think a
total of fourand the total acreage was just about 100 acres.
The price per vineyard-acre-- Let's see, the price was $1,800 an
Hicke: That's planted?
Woods: And that's planted. Well, not all of it was planted; we planted
some. There is a nursery on the property, and some of the land is
in homes. There were three homes on the property.
Hicke: And that was part of it?
Woods: The purchase price was $180,000, as I recall. There were
approximately a hundred acres all total with three homes.
Vineyards were on most of the property, and then the nursery and
the little orchard properties that were left, we converted to
Hicke: It was prunes?
Woods: Prunes, yes.
Anyway, that's how we started out. Meanwhile, as I mentioned
before, the investors in the Breckenridge project were interested
in expanding, so I began to look at other properties for them.
Some properties came up in Alexander Valley. They were owned by
the River Oaks Vineyards Company.
Hicke: That was selling the vineyard?
Woods: Yes. I can't remember the name of the two families that were
involved, but their company was called River Oaks. They had a
large area of land right at the corner of Alexander Valley Road
and what is the extension of Lytton Springs Road, right at the
entrance to what is presently our River Oaks dormitory and
farmyard, across the street from the Jordan Winery entrance.
But anyway, that was the property area that we purchased from
River Oaks. Then, subsequently, we expanded in that area, bought
other property, and then bought some property on the east side of
the river, bringing the total in Alexander Valley to perhaps five
Hicke: Bob Young's vineyards are farther north?
Woods: Yes, north and east. The acreage that we bought was largely on
the west side of the river, but there was some acreage on the east
side, which we subsequently decided to sell or trade. Ultimately,
we wound up with all of our acreage on the west side of the
Russian River and to the north of Alexander Valley Road before you
get to the Jimtown Bridge.
The acreage that we bought in Alexander Valley was all
orchard, and primarily prune orchard, although there were some
pears on some of the properties. One of the most exciting days, I
thinkone of the days that sort of stands out in the minds of my
familywas in March of 1972. We had, more or less, the
groundbreaking of the first vineyards that we planted in Alexander
Valley. We decided that all these beautiful trees were in
blossom, the mustard grass was a beautiful golden carpet
throughout the orchards, and that we would have a huge party in
the orchard the week before we started bulldozing the trees down.
So we had a party with, I think, about 300 family, people, and
friends from San Francisco and their children, their families.
Several of the kids got lost in the mustard grass because they
were too small to be seen. [laughter] A couple of them wandered
down to the river and we had to launch search parties to find
thembecause these are city folks. [laughter] Crazy Frank Woods
was getting involved in the agricultural business, and they wanted
to find out what I was doing.
But it was a wonderful party because, as you know, there are a
couple of days when the blossoms hit their peak, and we happened
to get there on a Saturday when they were right at their peak. We
still have movies of that party that people look at all the time,
because all of us had small children at that time, and it was
really sort of a breakaway moment as far as San Franciscans were
concerned with regard to the wine country.
Hicke: These were partners in the property?
Woods: No, these were just non-investor friends, but all San Francisco,
Marin, Peninsula, East Bay people that had nevermany of them had
probably never been to wine country until that particular weekend.
It was fun. It was the kickoff. And the pressure at that
point was "How can you knock down these beautiful trees? Why are
you going to take these beautiful trees out and put in ugly
vines?" So I had to live with that for several years before they
finally realized that there was some purpose in all of that.
Hicke: Let me back up here. When you were looking at vineyards, what
were your decisions based on? Did you check the soil, the
climate, the grape varieties?
Woods: Basically, we looked at, first of all, the location within the
particular appellations. In those days, of course, appellations
were nonexistent in California. But we had determined that the
climates of Dry Creek were totally different from the climates
that we saw in Alexander Valley, so we felt that we could
diversify our varietal plantings and the type of wine that could
be produced. In those days we weren't even thinking about wine as
much as we were the marketability of the grapes. There were at
least two different climate zones in Alexander Valley and Dry
Creek, if not more.
So, having determined that the two areaswest side, Dry
Creek, and the west side of Russian River in Alexander Valley had
two different climate zones, then we started looking at the soils.
We knew that there were some problems if you get the wrong
soil in that area. You can get boron and clay problems. There
were some areas where they have bad groundwater. But the soil
tests that we ran with professional determined that we had the
proper soils. Basically we were looking for sandy or gravelly
loam type soils, trying to get away from the adobe clays.
But, even so, you can say all of that is good in a perfect
world, but when you're buying a piece of property, you can't
separate that and say, "Well, I don't want that because it has
clay soil. I'll take this because it has loamy soil." You're
negotiating for the entire parcel.
Hicke: And it can vary enormously, I understand, in a very small-
Woods: Exactly. We just wanted to make sure that the great majority of
what we were buying fit the profile of growing premium wine
Hicke: Did you enlist the county extension office or a private soil--?
Woods: We worked with the county extension office, but all of our
technical data came from private sources. The backhoe drillings
and the soil samples and the analysis were all done under private
Woods: It was about that time that I hired Jim Lighter and Mike Rohan,
who, as I say, I think were working with Charlie Crocker in his
company. They were consultants, and Mike became the principal
consultant on the plantings in Alexander Valley.
Hicke: What varieties to plant? Or where to get those seedlings?
Woods: I think he was our vineyard consultant for all aspects.
We had, within our operations, three Cornellians who had
gotten involved in the Breckenridge project: Tom Reed, Dennis
Malone, and myself. Dennis had always had a strong interest in
agriculture. He had gone to law school and basically was working
as the company lawyer in Breckenridge, but he had forever harbored
an interest in becoming a farmer. So when we started investing in
all of this acreage, he asked if he could run the vineyard
operation. Both Tom and I had other interests, and we felt that
this was ideal. If he wanted to do it full time, he would be the
man to put in charge of the planting and the design of it. So
Mike Rohan and Dennis Malone took over the operation in the
Dry Creek was always separately owned by myself and my wife.
The Alexander Valley property ultimately became the River Oaks
Vineyards Corporation, and all the vineyards that we subsequently
acquired eventually went into that entity. However, in those days
there were great tax advantages to planting, to tearing out
orchards and planting vineyards and using the expense of the
development of the vineyard against other ordinary income. So we
established both limited partnerships and subchapter S
corporations for each vineyard that we acquired and brought the
investors in on a tax shelter basis.
Hicke: Pretty much the same people, though, in all of them?
Hicke: You didn't actually tell me who you got to manage your vineyards
in the Dry Creek Valley.
Woods: Well, in the beginning, Wallace was still there for a transition
period. But it's really funny: I was looking for a vineyard
manager and had not really gotten into the search in a serious
way, but I just knewand this was in 1973--that I was going to
need a full-time vineyard manager for the Dry Creek property. It
may have been the end of 1972.
In any case, I had attended some meetings in Sonoma, and many,
many years ago, Kay and I--back when we were courtinghad gone to
Juanita's in Sausalito. We were sailors, and we had been on a
long sailboat race and came back in about two a.m., and we went to
Juanita's, which was a coffee shop that opened early for fishermen
and then closed about noontime, after the fishing fleet had gone
out. So we went in, and Juanita is this big, huge woman who runs
the kitchen with a meat cleaver in her hands at all times, and
nobody would dare rassle with Juanita. [laughter]
Hicke: No matter what time of day.
Woods: No matter what time of day, no matter what. She had been closed
down by the Internal Revenue Service several times for lack of
She just couldn't quite keep up with paying her withholding tax to
the government. She would withhold it from her employees, but she
never got around to sending the check in to the governmentor so
it was said.
In any case, she had had several locations, and she wound up
with a place in Boyes Hot Springs, outside of Sonoma. So I
thought I'd go back over and just see how Juanita was, since she
had been a part of my past. We were sitting around the table-
She still had the meat cleaver in her hand, and she was running
this big kitchen there. It's marvelous food. I mean, she gave
you a lot. When you ordered a roast beef dinner, the roast beef
covered the table almost, it was such a huge slice. It was a lot
of food for a very modest price, and well done, well prepared, but
you had to put up with all of Juanita's loud-talking, boisterous
behavior and limited tolerance for anything that didn't please
her. In any case, I always enjoyed Juanita, and we got along
We were sitting there, and she joined me for dinner this
particular night, and I told her that I was looking for a vineyard
She said, "Well, would you be willing to take a chance on
someone who I think has one of the strongest work ethics of anyone
that I know in this area of Sonoma County but has had some
difficult family situations and has never really completed his
education? He's not a college-trained person, but he just is very
bright, has a lot of common sense, and just is an innately
intelligent person. And he can fix anything. He has a great
mechanical sense. He comes in and fixes all of my jukeboxes and
Hicke: And the meat cleaver, if it breaks down. [laughter]
Woods: Yes, the meat cleaver. So I said, "Yes." She said, "He's
presently working off and on up at Carter Thatcher's ranch for"--
Oh, Carter Thatcher's vineyard manager later went on to become
vineyard manager at Ferrari-Carano. I think he is married into
the Gundlach Bundschu family. Barney Fernandez. Barney was the
vineyard manager of the Thatcher vineyard operations up in the
hills on the east side of Highway 12, up in--is it called the
Mayacamas Mountains? It's up in the Sonoma side of those
So I went up and met him up at Thatcher's place. I think I
called Barney and talked to him about it, and everything I got was
"This fellow is just terrific." But when I talked to him, though,
he made it clear that he wasn't going to commute all the way from
Sonoma to Healdsburg; he had to have a place to live. He felt he
could take over a vineyard, but needed a home for him and his
wife. She was a college graduate and an artist and a very
articulate person. We had a lot of conversations with her. I
finally decided that this would be the right mix for me. His name
was Tom Hobart. So I hired Tom. The first employee that I hired
in any of this operation was Tom Hobart.
Hicke: And that's how you lost your summer home?
Woods: Right, [laughter] they took over my wife's potential summer home.
Tom moved in and began to run the Dry Creek vineyards.
Meanwhile, the Alexander Valley operation was going along
separately. I was president of the River Oaks operation, but that
was basically a vehicle where we were raising money to invest and
Winemaking Startup; An Unusual Story
Woods: I had this Dry Creek operation where our contractwhich was a
long-term contractwas with Sonoma Vineyards and Rod Strong. Rod
had always liked this particular property and had always been very
much involved. I think he had even, back before we bought it, he
had been buying grapes from the Wallaces for Sonoma Vineyards. He
signed a contract with us, which was a very, very good contract
for us in that it was based upon the highest prices and the
reporting services were available even then as to what prices were
being paid for grapes by wineries through the Grape Reporting
Service of California. So we established that the prices of the
grapes from this vineyard would be on a formula which gave us a
bonus over the top prices that were paid for these grapes in
Sonoma County. So it was a very good contract for us. In those
days, they didn't have any of these rules that now would prevent
you from tying your contract directly to the market price, because
obviously it could throw the whole pricing mechanism into a
Hicke: Was it a three-year contract?
Woods: No, it was a ten-year contract.
Hicke: Oh, that's pretty long.
Woods: It was a long-term contract: eight to ten years. We operated
under that contract for several years, and then in 1974
Woods: In 1974, it was toward the end of the summer-- July and AugustRod
called me and said, "Frank, I've got some bad news. I am in real
financial difficulties here at Sonoma Vineyards, and I think we've
got a good personal relationship, so I have to tell you, and I
want to tell you up front in case you want to do anything, that I
am not going to be able to honor your contract this year. I can't
pay you for the grapes."
This was too late to turn around and sell to anybody else,
especially because the market was rather soft in '74 with not a
lot of demand out there for grapes.
Hicke: Before the crash?
Woods: Yes, this was at least thirty to sixty days before the crash.
Hicke: Yes, that was a bad year.
Woods: So we talked about who might be interested in taking the grapes
off my hands.
He said, "I realize that I had a financial obligation to you
on these grapes, and what I'm willing to do, if you're willing to
go along with it, is if you will let me out of the contract, I
will take those grapes in, crush them, and make them into wine and
store them for a year until you find a home for the wine--if you
will let me out without any litigation on the contract.
Otherwise, we'll see you in court."
You know, there really wasn't much else that he could do, and
his stockholders had said, "You cannot pay out anything for grapes
this year. You don't have any money." So I said okay.
It was not too bad an idea, because I was going to get the
winemaking services and storage of the product, and I felt that I
could probably market the wine in bulk and maybe even make more
revenue than I would have with just the sale of the grapes.
So he did that, and I started looking around at bulk wine and
realized that there was no market for bulk wine at that point. It
was just a situation where you would have been lucky to get fifty
cents a gallon, I think. The prices were quite low.
Hicke: It was a great oversupply or something?
Woods: It was just a combination of the typical cyclical market
conditions of the vineyard conditions in California. It was an
up-and-down cycle, and that was one of the down cycles.
Anyway, I decided that it was time to seriously consider going
into the wine business myself. I came back and talked to my
family and we discussed it. The family was very eager to have me
get into the wine business. My wife thought it was a good idea,
that we could use my marketing background.
Marketing in the California Wine Industry
Woods: There really wasn't a whole lot of marketing going on in the
California wine business in those days. The principal marketeer
was Robert Mondavi. He was the person who was establishing the
California wine scene on a national level in the premium end of
Beaulieu Vineyards had been there. As a matter of fact, my
daughter's godmother was Aldo Fabrini's wife. Aldo was, I guess,
the general manager for a while at Beaulieu Vineyards and had
worked with Andre Tchelistchef f and had subsequently hired Lee
His wife was from Alabama where my wife was from, and their
families had known each other. So when we came out and had our
first child, she was one of the godparents. We used to spend a
lot of time with them socially. When we were looking for places
up in Napa, we would see them periodically.
But the real marketing person in the early seventies, in my
opinion, and the one I sort of looked to with great admiration,
was Robert Mondavi. I felt that the rest of the wineries were
largely production facilities and that their idea of sales were to
put out the product and wait for the phone to ring and for orders
to be placed. They had distributors around the country, and the
distributors were in charge of selling, and then they would place
the orders. Nobody had any sense of marketing, except for the
big, international corporationsthe Paul Massons, Almadens, and
Gallos. Certainly in the premium end of the business, marketing
was in very short supply.
Hicke: Do you think, just as an aside, that Mondavi is at least partly
responsible for the fact that Napa Valley became so much more
famous than Sonoma, even though the wine business or the
winegrowing industry is older in Sonoma County?
Woods: Well, I think Mondavi has a lot to do with that. But Napa was
certainly the area that everyone talked about when it came to
California wines back in the fifties and long before Robert
Hicke: But why?
Woods: Why? I think because it was an area where people would visit and
would be surrounded, as you are in France in the appellation
areas, by vineyards and wineries. It just seemed to be an area
that was vitalized by the wine industry.
In Sonoma you had dairy farm, you had a vineyard, you had a
prune orchard, you had a winery.
Woods: You had hops. It was just a marvelous agricultural
diversification, but it was not wine-oriented.
Hicke: Yes, not a Burgundy of the U.S. where you can drive past all the
vineyards and so forth. That's interesting.
Naming the Winery
In this conversation that I had with my family, we talked about
what name, what label, we would use if we went into the business.
Of course, I was thinking about things like Woods Vineyard or
Vineyard of the Woods. They convinced me that that had no pizazz
to it; it was just a dull sort of name, and that we needed
something more unique. That's when, with their knowledge of
French, they came up with the name Clos du Bois.
Now, who is "they"? Your immediate family? Your wife?
Yes, my immediate family, my wife and children,
discussion on what would you call it.
This was a family
My wife and I had gone to France in 1970 and had spent a lot
of time in the French wine country with a gentleman called
Scadzolla. Monsieur Scadzolla was, in many respects, the Maynard
Amerine of France. He was looked upon in every area of French
winemaking as a real guru.
Some friends of ours had large Algerian holdings before the
problems broke out and then had transferred into the Rhone River
Valley and developed wineries and vineyards there. We had visited
them, and Monsieur Scadzolla was there, consulting.
They arranged for him to take us on a ten-day tour around
France meeting different winemakers and discussing how they made
their product, what they considered to be the style of wines that
were in the upper end of the market range, how they dealt with oak
barrel aging, how they dealt with cropping in the vineyards, and
how they looked upon the terroir to describe all of these elements
that ultimately produced this wine that had this reputation around
the world as being the finest wine.
Monsieur Scadzolla was obviously a Francophile, and I was up
front with him, telling him why I was interested, and he was sort
of saying, "Well, I like you, but this is maybe a fool's mission."
This story-- [laughs] I hope my wife will appreciate this, my
telling it at this late date. She is no longer a smoker, thank
goodness, but in those days she smoked several packs a day. I was
concerned, because I knew that winemakers generally didn't like to
have smoking when they were tasting wine.
So I told her, I said, "Now, we're staying at the Place
Vendome Hotel in Paris, and on Monday morning, we have a driver
and a car that will pick us up for this ten-day trip. We're going
to pick up Monsieur Scadzolla at his hotel, and I want you to
promise me that when we're in the car you will not smoke, because
I know it will offend Monsieur Scadzolla. If you need a
cigarette, we will establish a code system. You will say, 'I need
to stop, da-dum-da-dum, ' and I will tell the driver to stop, we'll
get out, we'll take a break, and you can smoke a cigarette, but
not in the car."
Well, that was hard for her to accept. She didn't understand
why and thought I was being a little bit unreasonable, but agreed
So we got in the car, went over to pick up Monsieur Scadzolla,
and he popped in the car. He was a big, huge, bulky man with a
rather distorted face, because he was gassed in World War I. His
nose was destroyed, and it seemed like he had a lot of difficulty
breathing, but he got in the car with a Gallois dangling off the
side of his lip. [laughter] And from that moment, for the next
ten days, we never saw him without a cigarette in his mouth--
except when he was drinking wine.
My wife will never forgive me. She'll never let me forget it,
and any time from that point on that I questioned her smoking,
she'd always say, "Remember Monsieur Scadzolla?" [laughter] The
But anyway, we did spend time, and I think did have some
appreciation of what the French were doing. So that led to the
logical assumption that if we made wine, we were going to make it
in the direction of the French wines. We were going to try and
take what we felt was good from California, but as opposed to
doing what had been done in the past, perhaps, we were going to
try to move more towards the French, which, in my opinion, in
those days, if there was one term which could separate the best
French from the best Calif ornian, it was elegance. The best
Californians were rich, fruity, robust wines; the best of the
French were elegant wines. That was what I was hoping to achieve,
realizing that I couldn't make a French wine in California, but
wanting to move toward that spectrum on the scale of being
consumer friendly and elegant. Not that the French wines were as
consumer friendly; I felt the French wines in their earlier years
were too harsh and tannic and difficult. I wanted to bypass that,
achieve the elegance, but be able to do it within a few years of
the birth of the wine, and not ten or twenty years down the road.
But, as we discussed all those things, the suggestion came of,
"Why don't you call it 'vineyard of the Woods' in French?" And
that is how Clos du Bois came to be named.
Hicke: I never realized it was named after you.
Woods: But that's how the name evolved. I thought, "Well, can Americans
pronounce French words?" [laughter] But then 1 thought, "But
this is really important," because as I looked around the labels
that were beginning to come up, there were twelve or fifteen
labels that had Napa in them, there were six to ten labels that
had Mountain in them; Stone was used a lot, Creek was used a lot.
Then you had the family names, but, to a certain extent, they were
all Italian and, therefore, I felt, somewhat confusing:
Pedroncelli and Martini, et cetera. That led to confusion in the
recognition of the consumer, which, as I had learned at Procter &
Gamble, it's important that you have something that is distinctive
in the consumer's mind if you're going to market it as an over-
So I thought, "Clos du Bois. This is very distinctive, and
perhaps if I can make a label that is memorable, that seems to tie
into the name in some way, it will have a hook that people can
remember." So this is how we came up with the name.
Hicke: Were there other wineries with French names?
Woods: Well, soon after that you had Chateau St. Jean and then you had
Clos du Val with Bernard Forte.
But before that?
I'm sure there was some winery somewhere that had a French
But nothing very well known?
Is Almaden French?
Well, I'm thinking of something like Clos Pegase or something
that's really quite French in pronunciation.
Woods: At the time that we selected Clos du Bois, there was nothing of
that nature on the marketit was distinctivebut in France there
were a lot of clos's, like Clos Vougeot. That was a term that was
hundreds of years old.
But to further the family relationship on this setting, not
only were we getting the benefit of the children's French teacher
and her input through them on the brand name, but they had a young
lady, Patricia Lament, at the school. Both of my daughters were
enrolled in the Convent of the Sacred Heart. I was the head of
the fundraising program, and she was an artist, but she also
served as my assistant in the fundraising project. So I began to
talk to her about what I was interested in, and she said, "I'd
love to work with you on designing the label."
Designing the Label
Woods: So these are the early explorations that we had on Clos du Bois.
I kept looking at the idea of the tying the vineyards which we
owned-- And in those days, as you know, most of the wineries were
buying grapes from private vineyard owners. Very few--I would say
less than 10 percentof the vineyards were owned by the wineries.
So I felt it was important for us to establish this vineyard
connection that we had with our label.
So we started out by looking at putting grapes on there and
doing things that had different significance. Ultimately, I
decided that the Cabernet Sauvignon leaf was so distinctive that
it could be made to look like a fleur-de-lis, and at the same
time, relate to the vineyard. So we began to work in that
connection, and that's how the leaf became our symbol at Clos du
Bois. You can see the evolution of the labels from the beginning
to now always retaining the leaf.
Hicke: What we're looking at is a scrapbook that has various samples of
Woods: Artistic labels.
Hicke: There are different kinds of printing on some of them.
Woods: This particular logo that we selected for Clos du Bois had, we
felt, some very distinct qualities. When you tie it in with the
fleur-de-lis leaf, it merges as almost a French headline on top of
the leaf. I don't remember the name of this particular script
that the artist helped design. It may even have been originally
hand-designed by us, but ultimately we perfected it into what--
As you know, later we got into a more sophisticated label like
But it still has the same leaf.
The same leaf and the same logo.
Decision to Bottle the 1974 Vintaee
Hicke: We've now sort of eased into this winemaking, but I wanted to ask
you, when and where did you decide that you were going to make
wine instead of just have the vineyards?
Woods: I was first into it when Rod Strong said he wasn't going to pay me
for the grapes.
Hicke: Okay, that was the watershed?
Woods: Yes. Here I am with my 1974 crop of grapes that I had intended
just to sell to Sonoma Vineyards.
Hicke: So you couldn't sell the grapes, but then you decided also you
couldn't sell the wine.
Woods: Well, I couldn't sell it in bulk. There was no bulk market.
Hicke: That's how we come to the--
Selling That First Vintage
Woods: I decided I was just going to have to sell it myself. I realized
I had one year to put this together, because at the end of the
year I would need to have the wine out of tanks. Rod needed to
have those tanks ready for the '75 crop.
So I went out into the marketplace and began to look at what I
could sell through my own marketing skills. I did some market
surveys and discovered that I could sell, in the Clos du Bois
label of the '74 vintage, the three varieties--Pinot Noir,
Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon--that we had crushed at Sonoma
Vineyards about, I estimated, three thousand cases in the state
of California. I felt that I could do that through my own
efforts, but that was about it.
Well, I had a lot more wine than that. So I started looking
at other areas, and it was at that point that I started talking to
Ernie Van Asperen. I went to Ernie and worked out a contract with
Ernie where he bought over a thousand cases of wine with his
Hicke: This is the restaurant Ernie's?
Hicke: It's a distributor?
Woods: Ernie Van Asperen owns Round Hill [Cellars] --Ernie and Virginia
Van Asperen. [see following page]
Virginia, again, had sort of a family connection. She was a
friend of my wife's roommate, Nancy Jeffries, after my wife got
out of Bennett College and moved back to Mobile. Nancy was, I
think, a college classmate of Virginia Van Asperen. So I had
gotten to know Ernie through that connection.
Ernie owned seventy liquor stores in northern California, all
called Ernie's. Then, later, he had purchased a vineyard in Napa
Valley and put out his own label which he called Rutherford Ranch,
I think. Then, subsequently, he decided to go big into the
consumer wine business and he developed Round Hill winery.
I worked out a contract with Ernie to sell him approximately a
thousand cases at a dollar a bottle for the wines. That was about
as much as he felt that he could market under his private label- -
his Ernie's label.
Then I realized that I still had more to go, so I went to Lud
Renick. His mother lived right across the garden path from us on
Gough Street here in San Francisco in the first home that Kay and
I had when we were married. We had met Lud through his mother.
He had gone down to Pasadena and had opened up one of the best
restaurants in southern California called The Chronicle. He had
this sort of a logo of the Chronicle newspaper on his menu, and he
used it as a symbol. But, early on, he also was very big on
California wines and he promoted California wines in the Chronicle
restaurant better than perhaps anyone else in southern California.
I had heard about this, and I went down to see Lud as a friend
and explain to him that I had a huge amount of Chardonnay,
Produced and Botlled by
ERNIE'S WINE CELLARS
B W 4520
Alcohol 12% by Volume
TR A MIXER
ERNIE'S WINE CELLARS
Alcohol 12% by Volume
Alexander Valley -6^
Round Hill Vineyards
Alcohol 12.0% by volume
Boiiled by Round Hill Vineyards. Geyserville. California
Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir in bulk, and I wanted to bottle
it and market it quickly, because not only did I want to get the
cash flow going, but I had this one year time frame where I had to
get the wine out. So we put together a deal for a thousand cases
of Chardonnay for The Chronicle that they would use over the next
three-year period as their house wine.
Hicke: And they have it labeled. They have a label there. [points to
Woods: This is the first restaurant that I know of in California that did
their own labeling.
Hicke: Is that right?
Woods: Certainly in this quantity. Later on, subsequently, Ernie and
Round Hill went into doing a lot of the private label business,
but that was not until the late seventies and early eighties.
With us, Lud bought a thousand cases of Chardonnay from me,
again at an average price of about a dollar a bottle.
Hicke: This was 1974?
Woods: It was 1975. Seventy-four was the vintage, "75 is the year that
the transaction took place.
I still had a lot of wine on my hands. In those days, there
was an outfit in southern California that had twelve stores called
Trader Joe's that did almost as much California wine sales as the
rest of the southern California retail market put together.
Hicke: Oh, yes. Now a well-known name.
Woods: I discovered them in my marketing survey, and I went to see Joe
Columbo--the ownerand then his wine buyer, whose name escapes me
right now. We talked about the wine that I had available.
They had been doing some private label work where they were
buying odds and ends of European wines and some odds and ends in
California, but it was mostly in the hundred-case level. What I
offered them was a thousand cases of this, which they would do
with an almost handwritten kind of label, but it looked like
something that had been done as a backyard type of product. I did
a thousand cases for them at this dollar-a-bottle price, and they
would put it out on the market at $1.99 and see what they could
do. [see following page]
They said, "Well, maybe 1,000 is too much; let's talk about
I said, "I don't want to do any less than 1,000, because by
the time I set up all the label approvals and all the bottling,
that's going to be a fairly expensive job, and I need to move the
So we agreed on 1,000 cases, and we agreed to have it shipped
in September or late summer, even in August. By then, I was down
to the last thirty or sixty days of my time frame with Rod Strong.
Well, they sold out the 1,000 cases in two weekends at $1.99
and called me and said, "Can we get another 3,000 cases?" I
happened to have that. [laughter] And I happened to be delighted
to give that to them. So we then put together a 3,000-case order
for them at the same dollar price. Now I'm getting down to the
point that I'm pretty happy.
Hicke: Did you drink the rest of it? [chuckles]
Woods: I still had several thousand gallons left, but I didn't believe
that I could sell more than the thousand cases under Clos du Bois
label. I wanted to sell Clos du Bois at five dollars a bottle. I
put together a business plan for the banks in which I said the
maximum that any California premium wine will sell for with maybe
one or two exceptions is going to be five dollars a bottle, and
that five dollars was sort of the ceiling that I saw, and I wanted
to sell at that ceiling. Who knew that there were going to be
sixty-dollar and eighty-dollar bottles of wine subsequently?
Hicke: That was pretty high, probably.
Woods: Five dollars was at the upper end of the market. Certainly I
think Beaulieu Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was selling for
$4.00 or something like that, maybe $4.50. At that point I
decided that $5.00 was the goal we would shoot for, and what I
wanted to get for this wine was $2.50 wholesale--$2.50 at the
winery platform. Whatever I did beyond that in terms of brokerage
fees or retail markup, et cetera, would take it to the $5.00
Well, at the same time, I realized that that 3,000 case
business plan I had, at five dollars, was not going to use up all
the wine, but I wanted to assure myself that I could get rid of
that wine in a timely basis.
This wine was produced from
100% Chardonnay grapes grown
on the western slopes of Dry
Creek Valley an ideal microcli
mate for premium wine grapes
near Healdsburg in Sonoma
The 1974 crop was ready for
picking on September 27th after
a superior growing season The
fully-matured 5-year-old vines
flourished for ten additional days
of perfect weather and by har
vest time the grapes averaged
21.7" sugar brix with an excep
tional .929% total acid.
After cold-fermentation in stain
less steel tanks, and innocula-
tion for male-lactic fermentation,
the wine aged eleven months in
new Yugoslavian oak casks. Bot
tling took place under the direc
tion of The Chronicle Restaurant
in November 1975.
We are proud to offer this delight
fully clean 1974 vintage wine with
its delicate Chardonnay charac
ter and fruitiness.
The Chronicle 12/75
T.RAIYITJ: AT LARX -
Produced & Bottled Expressly tor
THE CHRONICLE RESTAURANT by
Otronid* WintC*ll*rt B.W 4520,windor.Chf. Ale 12%by Volume
A Second Label: River Oaks Vineyards
Woods: So I decided to start a second label and call itbecause we had
purchased the River Oaks operation in Alexander Valley--! decided
to call it River Oaks Vineyards. I felt that the name was
somewhat lower in profile than Clos du Bois. Clos du Bois had an
elegance to it; River Oaks sounded like this was more of an
everyday wine, the wine you could buy and put in your refrigerator
and have a glass when you came home from work. It was not the
wine you put on the table for an elegant dinner party. I was
going to sell this at a dollar a bottle wholesale, with the idea
that it would get into the retail market at about two dollars. I
felt like I could sell a thousand cases or so of River Oaks.
So I went back to the same artist, and we designed the River
Hicke: [looking at scrapbook] That has oaks and a river. Which one of
these ended up to be--
Woods: The first one. These were the artistic renderings, and this
ultimately became the label. Let's see if I have any in there.
We did two different colors on River Oaks. [pause while
searching] No, that was a subsequent label. I think that this is
about--! would say that was the first, probably.
The '74 had more or less that kind of profile, but the colors
were different on every label. I had already decided that with
Clos du Bois, as we moved into the more sophisticated labels, that
I would color code each variety by putting a different--
Hicke: So the Cabernet is--
Woods: Right. Cabernet was maroon, Riesling was green, Gewiirz
[Gewurztraminer] was gold. We followed that through with the
capsule colors, as well. So there was a color format.
A Successful Marketing Philosophy for Clos du Bois
Increasing the Number of Shelf Facings
Woods: At the same time, I was aware that in the consumer market, the
more shelf facings you have, the better chance you have of selling
product. So I had decided that I wanted to get as many varietals
out there on the market as we could to have a raft of these
colors, sort of a rainbow of color effects, to have a dominant
position on any grocer's shelf or any wine shop's shelf that we
went in. You would see a section that would catch your eye, and
it would be all Clos du Bois.
Hicke: Did they arrange them like that, then? A lot of times they're
arranged by varietal.
Woods: No, in those days, Gallo was dominating the retailer and trying to
get masses of shelf space, and that was my concept. But even if
they broke them up by varietal, which some of the shops were
starting to doespecially the wine shops, the grocery stores were
not, but the wine shops were breaking them and having Cabernets
here and Chardonnays therebut if I had this distinctive label
with the different color patterns and it kept popping up in every
section they went to, then I felt it would begin to register in
the consumer's mind that this is a product that we ought to try.
It wouldn't be overlooked. A lot of wineries had just Cabernet or
just Chardonnay, and you'd glance at them, and unless somebody
recommended it to you, you would not necessarily pick that wine
out of the group, but if you kept seeing this consistent pattern
of something that looked good to you, looked elegant, even though
you had never tried it, you might sample it.
A Variety of Products
Woods: So that was the philosophy behind that to have many different
products out. But, having said that, we went into all sorts of
products. We even bought different varieties that we experimented
with. I realized that there was a limit to how many really noble
varietals you could have: Gewiirz and Riesling, Chardonnay and
Sauvignon Blanc in the white, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Merlot in the
I did not want to get into the Zinfandels, because in those
days, Zinfandel was not a noted variety, in that it had been
bastardized by all of the different producers. There was a
Zinfandel that tasted like an aperitif wine, there was a Zinfandel
that tasted like a dinner wine, there was a Zinfandel that tasted
like a Port wine, there were hearty Zinfandels, medium Zinfandels,
light Zinfandels. The word Zinfandel had no character reference
in the consumer's mind. These other varieties had more of a
character reference, I felt. So those seven varieties were the
ones that I decided to concentrate on.
I still didn't like the fact that I had only seven potential
facings on the shelf, and I still had some wine left over from
that '74 that I wanted to sell. So I made an arrangement with Rod
to rent some barrels from him and put the best of the wineswhat
he and I felt were the best of the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, the
ones that should be aged longest into those barrels and hold them
for another year.
In the oak barrels,
du Bois Cabernet.
Then I put that out as a second release Clos
see following page]
That was 1974 second release.
Yes. It came out indicating, really, that it had been aged for an
extra year, but more importantly, it gave me a chance to have two
facings on the shelf in the Cabernet section. I had the first
release and the second release. This wine sold for--in those days
I had moved it up to six dollars a bottle.
The second release?
The second release. Six to seven dollars. It was the same wine,
basically, but it had an extra year in oak age.
That, in turn, led me to start working on other varieties. In
"74 we had one particular batch that we thought was very, very
good that Rod had saved into a smaller stainless steel tank. So
we put that in new French oak that I bought, and I just rented the
space from him. When I bottled that after three years of storage,
I put it out as a Proprietor's Reserve.
Let me see if I have a sample of that label.
Here's the Proprietor's Reserve. [see page 52b]
Oh, that's really nice.
So I bottled a '74 Proprietor's Reserve with that label. At the
same time, I noticed Robert Mondavi was doing some Cabernets that
he called "Unfined and Unfiltered."
Hicke: I saw that written on this label.
So I went to Rod, and what we did with another batch of our '74
wine this was in '77, but we started this in '74--we put on
unfiltered and unfined Cabernet Sauvignon. So now we had in the
Cabernet field, we had the regular Cabernet, we had the Second
Within the County of Sonoma, north of San Francisco, Dry Creek
meanders through a gentle valley Ocean fog, filtering inland over
coastal hills, creates an ideal micro-climate for the nurturing of
premium wine grapes. On the southwestern slopes of Dry Creek
Valley are grown the CLOS DU BOIS Cabernet Sauvignon grapes
from which this wine was made.
1974 was an ideal season for ripening late maturing grapes such
as Cabernet Sauvignon. Sunny days, typical of the region, brought
the sugar brix to an outstanding 23.8, while the mist-cooled
nights balanced out the crop at .860% acid by volume for near-
perfect varietal character.
The must was fermented at 75-80 F. for eight days. After racking
the wine off the lees, it was stored in French oak puncheons lo
enhance the aging process. With a 13.0% alcohol content by
volume and 3.4 p h , we decided our second release was ready for
bottling in the summer of 1977
A brilliant, dark purple color delights the eye, while the nose is
filled with the complexities of the Cabernet Sauvignon character
The varietal fruit and a vanilhc hint of oak is apparent in its full,
velvety taste. The wine has a lasting finish and is an excellent
accompaniment to robust meals, with an emphasis on beef.
Ideally, our Cabernet Sauvignon should be served at a tempera
ture of 70-75 F. While very drinkable now, both nose and flavor
will improve with bottle aging, at least until 1980. It should be
cellared in cool storage
SONOMA COUNTY (DRY CREEK)
CELLARED AND BOTTLED BY WESTERN ELEVEN VINTNERS
CEYSERVILLE, CALIFORNIA ALCOHOL 13% BY VOLUME
CLOS DU BO1S
Vineyard Locations: Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys, Sonoma County
PROPRIETOR'S RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON
The vintage of 1974 produced the finest Cabernet Sauvignon California
has seen since 1970. The CLOS DU BOIS vineyards were no exception.
Already our previous Cabernet Sauvignon releases from 1974 have been
awarded medals and accolades throughout the world. NOW - we are
introducing the "piece de resistance" - our 1974 PROPRIETOR'S RESERVE.
The grapes were grown in our hillside vineyards overlooking Dry Creek
Valley. Production was quite limited - only a little better than one
ton per acre. The wine, on the other hand, was huge . In order to
bring it under control and smooth out its tannins, we aged it for
forty months in French Oak barrels (a combination of Limousin and Nevers)
Bottled last year, the wine has been privately tasted against all of
the other 1974 Reserve Cabernets and has earned top honors for its
rich, complex flavors and its velvet finish. Consequently, we are now
releasing only 1,000 cases of the 3,000 cases produced for distribution
in very limited quantities to your key retailers and restaurants who
are concentrating on fine, premium wines.
Additional information on this outstanding wine is included on the
attached back label (which, incidentally, we decided not to use because
it detracted from the elegance of our slant-shouldered, punt bottle
with gold embossed label and capsule) :
t. San Rafael, Cal
Cabernet Sauvignon fy
The grapes lor this special boltimg ol CLOS DU BOIS Cabernet
Sauvignon came trom gravelly benchlands on the slopes of Dry
Creek Valley in Sonoma County Located seventy miles north ot
San Francisco, this valley, with its chalk-laden sons, sunny dais
and ocean-cooled nights, is an ideal micro-climate tor the proper
ripening of the late-maturing Cabernet Sauvignon grape
The legendary 1974 season was virtually perfect tor these grapes
They were harvested on October 24 at 23 6 sugar bnx nd
909% acid by volume Alter fermenting on the SKins lor ov a
week at 70-80F.. the wine was racked off the lees into Fre ch
In the summer of 1978 the limited Qu n-
niy of CLOS DU BOIS Proprietor s Reserve lonlv 3 (XX) ca es<
was put inio classic french-style punt bottles tor further aging
An analysis of this wine at the Itme ot bottling shows the follow
13.2% alcohol by volume
650% total acidity by volume
3 35 ph
The nose ot this Cabernet Sauvignon has a mixture of herbal,
spicy aromas with the vanilla tones of oak The taste is remi
niscent ot ripe loganberries It has a velvetv finish with an
impression of the evolving tannins in ihe aftertaste. CLOS DU
BOIS Proprietor s Reserve is scheduled tor release m 1979-80 If
cellared properly, we believe it will continue to improve with
age until at least 1965.
We have lound that this wine shows best when we bring it
from the cellar 2-4 hours betore serving to open and allow n to
breathe and to warm up to a room temperature of 70-75F. For
a unique combination, try this claret as an accompaniment to
a fine Cheshire cheese
SONOMA COUNTY (DRY CRE
MADE & BOTTLED BY CLOS DU BOIS
CEYSERVILLE, CALIFORNIA ALCOHOL 13.2% BY VOLUME
Release Cabernet, we had the Unfined and Unfiltered Cabernet, and
then we had one that had been technically filtered, but it was not
fined, so I put it out as an Unfined Cabernet, and then we had the
Proprietor's Reserve Cabernet. To a certain extent we did the
same thing with Pinot Noir.
So basically, I had five Cabernet Sauvignons that we put all
of our '74 wine in. I didn't expect every store to buy all five,
but I had the opportunity to get two or three, where most other
wineries in those days just had one Cabernet Sauvignon. I had a
chance, being a smaller winery, to have facings to make me look
like I was bigger than I really was, and hopefully that had more
of a consumer impression on the shoppers in the marketplace.
I think to a certain extent that worked, because certainly,
with no advertising, Clos du Bois started and developed rather
rapidly at the consumer level. Something had to be clicking on
the shelf to make that happen, because in the beginning it
couldn't be word of mouth, because nobody had had a chance to try
Hicke: Yes, you developed the label very quickly.
Woods: Yes, I think so. Certainly, in those days we felt like it had
moved rather quickly.
Hicke: And so that took care of all of that--
Woods: So that's the story of the '74 and how we got into Clos du Bois.
All of this was done, really, with Tom Hobart and myself. I did
all the marketing aspects, and Tom was sort of my representative
with Rod Strong to make sure- -I was worried that the wine wouldn't
be taken care of properly and just all of the paranoid things that
you have when you're not knowledgeable of the business, and I
certainly had no technical knowledge of winemaking, although both
Tom and I had gone up to Davis and taken some of the extension
courses. We were absorbing it as fast as we could without having
become enology graduates.
Hicke: Well, you clearly developed a philosophy of winemaking, even if
you didn't actually blend it yourself.
Winery on Wheels
Woods: So we were going all over the Napa and Sonoma area, finding places
that had extra bottling capacity, extra storage capacity, because
I decided that in 1975, to keep this program going I would not
only have to use the Dry Creek grapes, but I also needed to use
some of the River Oaks grapes. We were selling the River Oaks
grapes. By that time there was a little bit of crop beginning to
come in-- ' 75--especially in the Gewurz and the Riesling. So we
started to find places that would crush these grapes for us and
different places that would bottle them and label them for us, and
different places that would rent us oak storage and stainless
steel storage. So we had this constant search and probably
utilized facilities from a dozen different wineries in Napa and
Hicke: Can you give me an idea of who?
Woods: Chateau St. Jean, Franciscan, Simi, Souverain, Sonoma Vineyards.
Hicke: Well, that's a few good examples. You were all over.
Woods: And so we became known as the winery on wheels, because we had no
facilities, we had no place. We had to have, in order to get our
license, a bonded press, so we took a little dehydrator there on
my property in Dry Creek--a prune dehydrator--and we fixed it up
so we could put a lock on the door and brought the BATF [Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms] inspector out and said this is our
bonded wine facility. We kept a couple of barrels of wine in
there, but that was it. The rest of it was all scattered around
the area, so to speak.
Hicke: Did you have to keep track of all of this?
Woods: Of course.
Hicke: I mean, you, yourself?
Woods: Well, we had an office staff that took care of it.
In those days, we were obviously just selling in California.
So Tom was sort of watching after the home front and making sure
that all of these things got done on time and that the right
labelsor I would get the labels produced, but he would make sure
that the right labels got on the right bottles, because different
things were called for. It took a real inventory control master.
For a winery that was only a few thousand cases in sales, we had
fifty or sixty different items in the warehouse that you had to
juggle around and play with.
Hicke: He was a lot more than vineyard manager, wasn't he?
Hicke: Did he have a job description?
Woods: No. In those days we didn't know what that meant. We didn't have
time to do that. He would just take off one hat and put on
Then, when Paul Brassat came to work for us, he was the second
guy. He sort of assisted Tom in some of the winemaking functions.
Later, Paul became winemaker for Fritz and White Oak and now is
the head winemaker at Pezzi King.
Anyway, not to get ahead of the story, but we became known, as
I said, as the winery on wheels. We finally had to move from the
dehydrator to a little bit bigger place to keep all these cases
separate, because none of the wineries wanted to keep them. Once
the wine had been bottled, they wanted to get it out of there.
They didn't want to get it mixed up with their stock. So we had
to set up a facility on Mill Street in Healdsburg. We rented a
warehouse, and that held us for a couple of years.
Woods: Meanwhile, we were continuing to grow. I think in '75 we sold the
3,000 cases that I had predicted, but by '76, '77, we were
doubling our sales every year.
Hicke: Did you have a tasting room on Mill Street?
Woods: No. I didn't believe in tasting rooms. One of the really bad
marketing decisions that I made in this whole operation was not
putting in a tasting room. I resisted it. Tom wanted to do it,
but I resisted it because I felt like it would just divert the
attentions of our personnel to taking care of the customer when
they should be worrying about shipping off the inventory and
cleaning out the barrels or whatever.
We decided in--it must have been '76--that Mill Street was too
small and that we needed to expand. So we went to the Oppenheimer
family in Healdsburg, who had a lot of real estate around there.
They had a warehouse over on Fitch Street, right on the
tracks. It was just a tin warehouse that had a lot of space
inside where we felt like we could start doing our own bottle
storage and stop having to pay rent, and we could set up some case
storage and ship out the product from there. About the same time,
we were beginning to--
Cinda Crocker's brother was Jerry Campbell, and he had been
hired to be a manager of the Sonoma Vintners' Co-op, which was a
shipping facility that we built outside of Windsor. I was on the
organizing board of directors of that. We really were organized
by the Aubry family at Landmark Winery in Windsor.
Hicke: Okay, yes.
Woods: The Aubrys were a father-son team that bought and lived in the
house that was there. He came to me and said, "We really ought to
do what Napa's doing, which is put together a cooperative
warehouse where we could have a truck come in from our
distributors and load it up right at one spot so they don't have
to go around and pick up ten cases here and fifty cases there."
So we organized this under the cooperative rules and built a
warehouse which I felt was really quite effective.
Hicke: Where was this?
Woods: It was down in Windsor, right off of [Highway] 101. It's still
there. It's right there in that little industrial park on the
west side of 101.
We hired Jerry Campbell to run it for us. He was living in
Chalk Hill at the time and had a cattle ranch there.
Subsequently, he opened up a bed and breakfast up on Canyon Road,
right opposite Pedroncelli. It's probably one of the most
successful bed and breakfasts in Sonoma County now.
But, again, it's amazing how these family connections keep
coming back. I know that if I had been living in the wine country
since the days of [Agoston] Haraszthy--a hundred yearsthat I
would have all these family, friends, et cetera. But, instead,
coming in as an outsider, to find how many different family
connections we had in this business (and as the story goes on, it
will continue all across the country) that assisted me in making
this project happen-- It became a really interesting insight--at
least to me into how a small business in something like wine-
agriculturally related, perhaps but how there are so many
different contacts that are out there that you don't even envision
when you start out that will ultimately help you in your progress.
I had a brother who had graduated from Cornell- -a younger
Hicke: What's his name?
Woods: Joseph Ross Woods. He had joined Marriott. I guess he worked for
Sheraton, initially, and then he joined Marriott and had become
the general manager of the O'Hare Marriott property in Chicago.
So when I decided that it was time to move out of California and
get into wine, and when our production was up to the point that I
could take care of California and I wanted to move out some more,
I selected Chicago.
I went to my brother and he said, "Sure, I'll set you up." He
set me up with meetings with every distributor in town, and I went
out and interviewed them. He helped me select the one that we
finally appointed, and then he would call on his fellow hotel
managers and have a wine tasting of my wines. He said, "I'm not
putting any pressure on anybody. I just want you to see what my
brother's doing in California." [laughter] My brother. That
helped, and Chicago became a very big market for us.
But it was that kind of family connection that seemed to
emerge throughout the development of the Clos du Bois operation.
The Tasting RoomA Successful Marketing Tool
Hicke: I think we left you talking to the Oppenheimers.
Woods: Oh, okay. We decided that it was time to move out of Mill Street
and into their warehouse, so we signed a five-year lease on that
tin warehouse to move in and get operating, and Tom came back to
me and said, "You know, I still think we ought to have a tasting
And I'm looking around and seeing the success that Mondavi is
having with his, and, you know, hundreds of thousands of people
are now going to his place.
So I said, "Okay, we'll have one, but only if we can afford to
hire a full-time tasting room manager. I don't want you pulling
yourself off of the barrels," or, Barry Johnson who by that time
had joined us as sort of the cellar master.
But, in any case, realizing that we were going to have all
these beautiful ladies coming in to buy our wine, I didn't want to
have all my cellar masters flirting with the customers instead of
doing their job. [laughter] I thought it would be a terrible
Barry Johnson was one of the initial hires that we made that
is still there.
So, at any case, I decided that we would partition off one
section of this Fitch Mountain operation and put in a tasting
room. I thought this was also a bad site, because it's not in
downtown Healdsburg, we were just in the industrial area of
Healdsburg around the railroad tracks. I thought nobody was going
to come here to buy wine, but almost immediately the word went
out. It was like a cult. You know, if you really want to go and
have fun in a tasting room and taste some really good wines, go to
Clos du Bois. I mean, they'll open everything that they've got;
the wines are very approachable.
What I discovered, much to my amazement --and therefore I
kicked myself for not having done this earlieris that every
person that came into that tasting room, if we had the right
personneland we did: Tim Shippey was hired and then Deborah
Price, who is still managing Clos du Bois's tasting room. They
were instrumental in putting together a team of people that
serviced the tasting facilities. They had this marvelous ability
to make everyone feel at home and feel like they, behind the
counter, were the winemakers in charge of the vineyards. They
were knowledgeable, helpful, but most of all, friendly and
The result was that everybody that came into that room
everybody is an exaggeration- -but almost everybody that came into
the room left with a proprietary interest in Clos du Bois. When
they went back home- -be it San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New
York, Chicago, or Dallas whenever they saw Clos du Bois on a
menu, whenever they saw Clos du Bois on the shelf, there was
something triggered inside of them that said, "That's my winery.
I've got to buy that wine. I own a piece of that winery," if not
financially, at least emotionally.
So we had a wonderful marketing tool with that tasting room
that I had not realized before. It very quickly became a profit
center. We were doing over a million dollars a year in that
tasting room by the time we sold the winery.
What year did you open the tasting room?
I'd say '77 or '78. It was in the Fitch Mountain facility that we
built it. I would say that we probablywith the exception of
Souverain, which had a restaurant, had as many, if not more,
people through our tasting room as any other Sonoma facility. We
know we had, based on our own research, the highest retail sales
per visitor. Very few people walked out of that tasting room
without some wine in their hand.
Did you also get or depend on feedback from the people that
tasted? I mean, which things they preferred and what they liked?
Sure. We would test different styles of Merlot when we decided to
get into the Merlot business in 1978. A lot of it was based on
two things: I liked the way the Merlot grape was growing. It
seemed to thrive in Alexander Valley and Dry Creek as compared
with some other areas that I had studied where the grapes tended
to shatter a great deal. Some years they would have almost no
crop because of the late afternoon winds. Merlot seemed to be
very delicate in Monterey, for example. But, up where we were,
year after year Merlot produced some really good crops, so I
decided that that was a good sign for expansion of the variety.
Secondly, I noticed that when we offered winery personnel a
chance to go out in the cellar and tap into any keg of wine, take
home a bottle of wine, or use a bottle of wine after work, that
there were more bottles going out of Merlot than any other
That's certainly indicative.
So we began to test in the tasting room different blends of
Cabernet with Merlot and then had some wines that were Merlot with
Cabernet. The Merlot with Cabernet was equally as popular as the
Cabernet with Merlot, and with no advance knowledge of what Merlot
was, but when you sampled them, they came back to the softness of
that Merlot-Cabernet combination.
So, suddenly, we launched our first bottling of Merlot as a
varietal with 25 percent Cabernet blended in--in those days you
had the 75 percent maximum ruleand we put a blue label on it.
There was no other label out there in the marketplace then that
was blue. For some reason, blue had just not seemed to be a label
that people associated with wine. I don't know what was wrong
with it. Subsequently, I think it was just tradition. Our blue
label just stood out. There was nothing else on the shelf with a
Hicke: That's amazing.
Woods: That, I think, was one of the things that caused us to take off so
fast with Merlot.
We began with a couple of thousand cases in '78.
of '85, we were up to 60,000 cases of Merlot.
By the vintage
I did a lot of research on wineries around the world. Clearly
we were the largest Merlot winery in California. Nobody else was
anywhere close to us. I think Rutherford Hill was making about
15,000 to 20,000 cases, Martini about 10,000, and there were maybe
some others in the 10,000-20,000 range, but no one was even close
In Italy and Eastern Europe, there were Merlot grapes being
grown, but it was blended in and didn't emerge as a Merlot
varietal. Nowhere in Italy or Eastern Europe where the Merlot
grapes were being grown did anyone produce 60,000 cases of a wine
called Merlot or even 60,000 cases of a proprietary product that
was mostly Merlot. So I could say by 1985-1986, we had become the
largest Merlot producers in the world.
Within our own organization, it became a wine that we all
became very proud of, because it was a great introductory wine to
restaurants. We could bring that wine in, and you could put that
wine on any restaurant's wine-by-the-glass program and it would
sell twice as much as they expected. They would sell one glass,
and people would come back and order several glasses, whereas they
would sell a glass of Cabernet and that was it. But Merlot was so
consumer friendly, it just encouraged them to come backif not to
drink another glass at that occasion, they would come back into
the restaurant and they would automatically order the Merlot.
Maybe even a bottle.
Yes. It started, I think, a trend which is still going on today
toward a growing interest in Merlot among the red wine drinkers.
Not only the quantity but the quality must have been significant.
I think we had good quality. Merlots can be made- -as Dan Duckhorn
knows and Hogue [Cellars] up in Washingtonit can be made with a
very strong Cabernet Sauvignon characteristic. It can be a real
important dinner wine with lots of, not just tannin, but a lot of
activity going on in the wine. We elected to have more of a soft,
consumer-friendly style a wine that you could drink and say, "I
really like this." It's a smooth, accessible wine, and you came
back to it, and you could drink it with anything. You could drink
it with fish, you could drink it with salad, and you could drink
it with roast beef, but you could also just sip it at the bar if
you wanted to.
Hicke: As an aperitif. Well, that is quite a success story.
We had just left off with the Merlot story.
Description of Tasting Room
I think from the marketing aspects of Clos du Bois--certainly we
were a market-driven company. We, as I said earlier, had defined
our presence in the marketplaceor as Rosser Reeves said, our
unique selling proposition, the USP of our brand to be a product
that was directly related to the vineyards, that the vineyards
dictated the type of wine that we produced, the vineyards dictated
the quantity of wine we had available. We had no bricks and
mortar to sell, no fancy monuments to bring people toalthough,
as I subsequently was surprised to learn, you didn't need fancy
monuments to bring people to the winery and make them feel at home
and part of your own operation. I would say people left Clos du
Bois as strongly oriented fans of Clos du Bois as people who went
to Sterling [Vineyards] and rode the funicular to the top of the
hill and saw this wonderful Mediterranean architecture with the
great views. I mean, I love that setting, that winery, that whole
operation, but in terms of capturing consumers' loyalty, I don't
think they did any better a job than we did at Clos du Bois in a
Just to capture this contrast, could you describe your tasting
The tasting room was in a galvanized tin building, which was a
warehouse which was perhaps 200 feet long by 100 feet wide. We
did decide after a point that we needed to have insulation in
order to keep refrigeration. In barrels and tanks it didn't seem
to matter, but when you started storing case goods in there, we
felt that we needed to have a more consistent temperature. So we
put insulation in the roof.
I remember I took a group of my friends, some of whom were
invested in Napa Valley wineries, into the building in about 1978
to tour the winery and taste wines. One of them came up to me and
said, "Do you know" --so- and- so- -"who has a winery in Napa?"--who
was part of the group. He said, "He walked in here, and he looked
up, and he saw this insulation. Some of it had come loose and was
hanging down. He saw the metal beams and the corrugated tin walls
and the concrete floor and nothing but just this open warehouse,
and he said to me, 'Frank will never make it in this business.'"
Hicke: Famous last words. And the tasting room was just one end of this
Woods: So we took the tasting room and we put in a little sort of
barricade that was just a wooden wall, and we put a piece of glass
in it. We didn't want the fumes of the winery to be totally
We wanted to give the tasting room a little bit of a feeling
of warmth, so we put a roof above it and a staircase leading up to
it so we could have a place to store chemicals and boxes and
stuff a place for something we wanted to get off of the floor of
the winery. It gave us the storage space we needed anyway, and in
the space down below, we put a little counter in there and had
some boxes of wine behind the counter.
Ultimately, the inspectors came and said, "You can't operate
this unless you put in a restroom," so we had to build a restroom,
but then we made the door accessible to the warehouse, so that the
winery personnel could use the restroom as well. All of that we
were going to have to do anyway. Once your profile gets higher
and higher, suddenly the government inspections become more and
more strict, as we discovered. [laughs]
But the tasting roomit was just that. I mean, it was just a
little adjunct to the warehouse. I didn't want to give up much
space, because, again, I did not believe that this was going to be
profitable. I didn't want to do something which did not have the
ability of producing revenues for the company. No one was more
amazed at the financial success of that project than I was.
Hicke: That's a good contrast, though, to prove your point. You don't
have to have a Mediterranean villa to attract a customer.
Woods: Right. So anyway we had rented this building, and we were
proceeding to consume more and more of the grapes.
Three Goals in the Marketing Philosophy
Value of Estate-Grown Grapes
Woods: Oh, 1 was on the philosophy. That's rightthe unique selling
proposition from a marketing standpoint that our product was
directly related to our vineyards. The fact that, at that point,
100 percent of our grapes were coming from our own vineyards made
us somewhat unique in the business, I think, but it was a
uniqueness that we wanted to take advantage of; it was a
uniqueness that we wanted to sell to the public. We wanted to
try, wherever we opened up markets, to explain that to the
managers of the wine shops and to the sommeliers in the
Creating Wines That Are Elegant and Accessible
Woods: Secondly, we wanted to create wines that, as I said before, were
both elegant and accessible. We didn't want to have any one of
our wines--of the seven varieties that we were producingwe
didn't want to have any one that was so extreme or so dramatic
that some people would love it and some people would hate it. We
wanted to make, within the category that we were selling to, we
wanted to make it universally admired.
I think the proof of that is that we traveled the country with
the Sonoma growers and their wine tastings, at the end of the
evening, with fifty or sixty wineries there in the room, I was
pleased to have person after person come back and say, "We think
that you have the best wine here." And why was that? "Because we
tasted"--you' re usually allowed to pour four wines--"We tasted all
four of your wines, and we love them all. We go to other tables
and we love one or two, but we don't love them all. You're the
only table here where we can honestly say you don't have a bad
wine . We love every one . "
You know, that kind of response is what we were trying to get
at the consumer level, because we knew that we were not going to
be able to compete in an advertising sense with the large
wineries. We had to develop uniqueness that could be sold by the
person that was hand-selling that wine in the wine shop or the
sommelier that was recommending the wine in his restaurant. We
had to create a story that he could transmit quickly and
believably to the consumer.
Hicke: How did you develop wines that were easily acceptable? I mean,
easily loveable by everyone?
Woods: Well, in 1976 when we brought the first true professional
winemaker on boardJohn Hawley--John and Tom and I would sit
around and taste wines continuously- -both competitors' and our own
bottles, our own tanksand keep revolving until we felt, vis-a
vis the competition, that we had a wine that all three of us
liked. John was the professional, Tom was the vineyard expert,
and I was, you know, Mr. Consumer. The three of us had to agree
that it was professionally correct from John's standpoint, it
represented the flavors of the vineyard from Tom's standpoint,
and, from my standpoint, it was easy to love, it was drinkable,
you wanted to go back for another sip, there was nothing that
turned you off. If the wines didn't meet that category, then we
went on to something else. We kept working on it until we got it
to that level.
Hicke: How did you develop your palate?
Woods: I think largely through osmosis. I joined the Vintner's Club here
in San Francisco; 1 went to every wine tasting I could; like I
said, I went to Davis and tasted with the professors and took
classes. I took every opportunity that I could to develop a
palate that I felt could recognize a good quality wine. The
Vintner's Club is a good example, because we rate twelve wines of
a category every Thursday. I was always pleased that I could come
very close to ranking the wines the way the group would rank them.
I was very seldom off more than one or two places in the way that
the wines were ranked. John Hawley was excellent at bringing in
samples of wines with different characteristics and finding
competitive wines that represented different styles. Tom and I
both enjoyed a lot of eclectic wine consumption. It was a labor
of love if nothing else. I really enjoyed doing it. I felt like
I was never going to be a Monsieur Scadzolla who could tell you
what side of the vineyard the wine came from. He was amazing. He
would walk into a wineryand they all knew him in Franceand
they knew that this man's palate was the best in the country.
They would give him wines to test. They would give him wines that
were labeled incorrectly, and he could tell them how it should
have been labeled. But tasters like Monsieur Scadzolla, not only
do they have fantastic palates that they have developed for years,
but they also have wonderful memories.
Hicke: I was going to say, memory must be a very large part of it.
Woods: I have a good memory, but not like Monsieur Scadzolla. People
like Harry Waugh have abilities to hook their tastings onto a
memory factor so that they can go back years. The same thing is
true of the famous wine auctioneer at Christie's, Michael
Hicke: Oh yes, I've seen him.
Woods: He really had a wonderful palate and a wonderful memory for
everything that he had consumed. Anyway, that was just one of the
factors that I felt I had to work on.
Hicke: So when you three were tasting, did you keep going until you all
agreed on something?
Woods: Generally speaking. I don't think we ever produced something that
we didn't agree on. We actually ran into wines that we decided
not to bottle, that we would sell off in bulk, because we just
couldn't bring that wine to match our standards.
Creating a Market Without Advertising
Woods: Again, just to finish the sales philosophy, the elegance with
accessibility was very important, but the third real element was
to create a market for this wine without advertising. That is
sort of a clumsy way of expressing it, but what I was looking for
was the ability to go into a marketplace and make our presence
felt without advertising.
I would want to make sure I had enough product to be able to
give coverage to that market to the degree that I felt was
necessary. I didn't want to spread the product very thinly across
the entire state of California or across the entire country. As
we grew, I went in markets where we had enough product to make an
impact, to make our product significant in that marketplace.
Additionally, in each market I wanted to start with placing
our product in restaurants, hotels, and clubs wherever possible,
because I felt with the thousands of wines that were available to
the consumer and the confusion on their part as to what to buy--if
they began to see Clos du Bois on more and more wine lists they
would say to themselves, "That sommelier is tasting thousands of
wines a year, and he selected these fifty wines on his wine lists.
We see Clos du Bois here, we saw Clos du Bois last night, we saw
Clos du Bois last month. So that wine must be a consensus winner
in the minds of the experts."
At the same time, I decided that we needed to enter as many
wine competitions as were available to us, because when you have a
gold medal or a silver medal in a wine competition it was
broadcast around the wine world, the wine critics, sommeliers, the
wine shops. We even put little gold stickers and little silver
stickers on the wines after they had won.
It was an interesting philosophy. Everyone said, "Don't enter
that. You don't stand a chance of getting the medal in that
operation." My attitude was, "Well, I think we do stand a
chance . "
Our wines were not made to stand up against the Margauxs and
the Latours of the world, but in most of the competitions, you
don't come up against those kind of wines. In a lot of
competitions, the wines that are there are many times not ready to
drink. They might be better than us ten years from now, but many
of the judges are perhaps not sophisticated enough to recognize
the future potential of the wine, so they go with something that
is more accessible, and we were accessible. We had the depth of
quality that was accessible at an early age in most of the wines
that we were makingin fact, I would say in 100 percent of the
Also, you can't win a gold medal if you don't enter.
That's exactly it. If you don't win in a competition, nobody ever
hears about it. Nobody goes around saying, "Ha ha! You lost.
Your product must be bad." [laughter] What they talk about is
That's the thing that makes the American wine seem so much
better than France. Nobody reads wine articles in France. They
think we're silly to have seventy wine writers around the country
that produce weekly wine columns, to have wine publications that
are doing all this evaluation, The Wine Spectator, and The Wine
Enthusiast. The Europeans think that that is sort of nonsensical.
It's like how we might feel if someone put out a daily column and
ranked the milk that we were drinking. [laughter]
do that. Milk drinkers make up their own mind.
You don't ever
I was with some friends in Italy, not too long after we
started the winery, and we went to a restaurant in Florence. I
asked for the wine list.
He said, "Oh, no, no. We don't need a wine list."
I said, "Why?"
He said, "We're going to order Garibaldi."
I said, "Why?"
He said, "My grandfather ordered Garibaldi, my father ordered
Garibaldi. Why should I mess my mouth up tasting anything else?"
[laughter] "That's our family. We like red wine. I know we like
Hicke: [laughing] My father told me so.
Woods: Yes. But that's more of a European habit. As many people will
tell you, people in Bordeaux do not drink Burgundy wine, and
people in Burgundy know nothing about Bordeaux wine. Americans
and English are more egalitarian in their wine preferences than
any French or Italian I have ever met.
Hicke: That's really interesting. So you entered--
Woods: Well, back to the competitions, at one point in the early eighties
Wine Spectator came to me and said, "We were just tallying up the
medals, and we discovered that you won more medals last year than
any other winery in California. How do you do it?" We talked
about it, and I explained the philosophy, and they said, "Well,
we'll do a cover story on that." So that's when we had this
article that I think sort of kicked us off in the international
world. Was it "California's Best-Kept Secret"? I'll have a copy
of it here some place. [see appendix]
Hicke: That would be helpful.
Woods: But the picture of me throwing the medals up in the air is one of
the most ludicrous scenes I've ever posed for. [laughter]
They're all falling down around me, and they had the ribbons and
medals up in the air.
Hicke: That's in the article?
Woods: But it was part of the marketing philosophy that we had developed
that would then help us establish the reason why that sommelier,
that restaurant owner, or that hotel catering purchasing manager
should buy our product. He couldn't buy it on the basis of our
television advertising or the million-dollar budget that we had
behind it. He had to buy it because, first, he liked to drink it.
We always insisted that we never present the product to an
account where we didn't get them to sample it. Many times we had
to leave the bottle, because they wouldn't sample it until later
in the day, but we insisted that the sampling of our product was
critical to making the sale.
Along with that, you present the gold medals, you present the
idea that another half dozen restaurants that he knows with pretty
good wine had put it on their wine lists, and pretty soon you had
a group of restaurants, hotels, and clubs in the area that have
Clos du Bois. Then these members, these clients, these customers
who are drinking it on those occasions start asking for it at the
wine shop, start asking for it at the grocery store.
That made it easier for us to get into the retail shelf
against all of the big merchandising companies, the big multi
million-dollar advertising companies. We were able to go in and
establish ourselves with the techniques that I described earlier
of getting maximum shelf facings. We were one of the first to put
in little, hand-written shelf cards that you would put right under
the bottle. It looked like the grocer had written about the
qualities of this wine. Just anything to bring the consumer's eye
to our product: the different colored labels on the brand, the
focus on the fleur-de-lis shaped grape leaf on the labelall were
designed with the customer and getting his attention in mind.
Hicke: Let me ask you about why you insisted on the tasting if you wanted
to sell to a restaurant. What's the reasoning behind that?
Woods: Well, we felt that the key to the success of our restaurant
distribution was that when we had that restaurateur taste our
wine, we said to him, "Would this be a wine that, when you opened
it and served it to your customer tonight, that the customer is
going to be pleased with?" Invariably, they had to say yes.
There were a lot of wines that were being offered to them
that, if they had the time to put them in their cellar for two to
three years, would be sensational wines, but that night they were
too young. They were not consumer friendly. Ours were
accessible, ours were consumer friendly, and yet we always had a
depth of character, a quality within that varietal component, that
John Hawley was able to incorporate in those wines that kept us
from being just another commercial winery. We had a distinctive
quality, but at the same time, we were accessible.
Woods: Let's see. We were on marketing philosophy.
Hicke: Yes. Did we finish with that? Or is there more to it?
Woods: I think that's pretty generally the way in which we approached the
market. There's more that goes on as we get bigger, but I'll get
into that, explain it later.
Hicke: Yes, okay.
Woods: This was the philosophy we started with and that I think we
finished with. We continued all the way through until the sale to
Hiram Walker /Allied Domecq.
River Oaks Label
Hicke: When did you actually develop the River Oaks label?
Woods: At the same time as Clos du Bois.
Hicke: And what were you doing with that? I think you mentioned this
somewhat, but may be you could elaborate.
Woods: As we discussed earlier, after I made my marketing survey and
determined how much wine I could sell under the Clos du Bois first
release label, I decided to set the price of my private label
business at less than half the price of the Clos du Bois. My
object at that point was not even at a dollar a bottle. I was
making more money than I would have made selling the grapes. So I
was in a positive profit position.
I wanted to keep the wholesale price of Clos du Bois at that
$2.50 level, but I realized that I was limited in how much 1 could
sell at that price level. So, having seen the success that the
product had when it was priced out at wholesale $1.00 a bottle,
retailing at $1.99, I decided that I could put a product out at
that level under another label and not harm the image of Clos du
Bois at a restaurant. The worst thing that I could do to the
restaurant business would be to put Clos du Bois out at $1.99 in
the marketplace. So I put River Oaks out at $1.99 in the
marketplace and didn't try to place it in restaurants.
Hicke: Now, is there a difference in the vineyards?
Hicke: River Oaks was just your Alexander Valley vineyards.
Establishing Layers of Wine
Woods: Eventually, as we continued on in the development of both our
vineyards and our marketing, I decided that it was really
important for us to establish, not just numbers of facings, but to
establish layers of wine.
The Wine Institute had done a lot of consumer surveys on wine
consumption, there were some opinion polls that were available
that had done some national surveys on wine consumption, other
information that I had gathered from various research
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organizations--! put it all together and determined, generally
speaking, a third of the population do not drink wine at all, a
third of the population drinks wine only on a special occasion- -
Aunt Sadie's birthday, Christmas once or twice a year, and then a
third of the population will drink as much as a bottle of wine a
month or more .
In that last third, there are also some varying degrees of
consumption. About 20-25 percent of that third will consume wine
on at least a once-a-week basis, and, generally, they tend to
consume wine with their meals on a regular basis--! don't mean
every night, but two to three to four nights a week, especially
when they eat out they will consume wine, and that wound up being
around 5-7 percent of the total of the adult population back in
So I decided that that's the market that I wanted for Clos du
Bois, that's the area that I want to concentrate on, that 5
percent are the consumers that I wanted.
Most of this category are college educated, upscale, upper 10-
20 percent income bracket, well-traveled-abroad people, but there
is a fraction of that groupmaybe 20 percent of that category
who are ethnic wine drinkers. They have come from families where
wine is the bread of life from Italy, from Europe, and from
various backgrounds where wine is something that their parents and
their grandparents drank. Those people just drink wine like other
people drink beer. They leave a jug in their refrigerator, they
come home, they pour a glass, some of them drink a glass at lunch,
some of them wake up in the morning and start with a glass to get
them started kick started or whatever. Some of them don't just
want to buy a five-liter jug and put it in the refrigerator; some
of them want to have a little better bottle of wine. They don't
care too much about the nuances, but they certainly don't want to
pay more than two dollars a bottle at the retail for it. So I
feel I've got to have a layer to approach that customer.
Then I've got to have a layer to approach the broader group of
these heavy wine consumers. The first group would be every day,
the second category is every week or maybe several times a week.
These were maybe willing to spend up to five dollars a bottle.
Then, within that category of the every-week group, there are
obviously special occasions when they are willing to go beyond the
five dollars a bottle and try something a little better. So I
designed a third layer. We had the River Oaks at the bottom, we
had the Clos du Bois for the five-dollar, every-week consumer, and
for the special occasion we created the Vineyard Designation
I specifically picked five different vineyards that we owned,
and I named them. I found names that I felt could be distinctive,
with the object that some day those wines would be known by that
name, not by Clos du Bois, and certainly not by the varietal.
So we had Marlstone, which was basically a Bordeaux blend. It
was largely Cabernet Sauvignon, but it had Merlot, Petit Verdot,
Cabernet Franc, Malbec--all five varietals in different blends
from vintage to vintage. Sometimes we would have only two,
sometimes three, but it was a Bordeaux blend, and always putting
the percentages of each varietal on the label. The focus, the big
headline, was Clos du Bois and almost equal treatment in fact,
later it became even more prominent- -the word Marlstone.
Hicke: Now, is that a single vineyard?
Woods: That was a single vineyard designation: Marlstone Vineyard.
Hicke: And all of these five varieties came from that vineyard?
Woods: Right. And then I had Woodleaf Cabernet Sauvignon, Calcaire
Chardonnay, again, picking names that I felt were memorable and
had a little bit of connection with the soil of the vineyard.
Calcaire is the calcareous soil, Marlstone is the marlstone rocks
that you find all over, Woodleaf is sort of a combination of what
grows around the area.
Then we had Flintwood Chardonnay. That was sort of a little
bit of ego tied in. There's no such thing as Flintwood, but F.
W. , Frank Woods, and Flintwood--it sort of had a ring to it, and I
felt there was a little bit of synergy and that I'd play with it.
Then there was Cherry Hill Pinot Noir.
In the pricing sense, we had a two-dollar level, ultimately
going up to seven, for the River Oaks. You had Clos du Bois at
the five-dollar level, ultimately going to twelve to fifteen. And
we had the Vineyard Designation wine at the seven- to eight-dollar
level, ultimately going to eighteen to twenty-five.
Hicke: This is in the eighties now.
Woods: Yes. Then there were still some ones that really, truly, in John
Hawley's estimation, were so much better in the barrel than any
others, that we decided to have a fourth layer called Reserve that
we wouldn't make every year; we would only make it in those years
when we really felt we had something particularly special that we
could sell, and we would put a price that in those days was
considered almost obscene. We put a price of about twelve to
CLOS DU BOIS
54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot
MADE & BOTTLED BY CLOS DU BOIS WINERY
HEALDSBURC. CALIFORNIA ALCOHOL 128% BY VOLUME
CLOS DCJ BOIS
On the slopes ol Sonoma County's beautiful Alexander
Valley lies CLOS DU BOIS Marlstone Vineyard Its name
was derived from the special composition of its rocky soil
There we planted two premium vanetals, Merlot and
Cabernet Sauvignon whose roots penetrate deep into
In 1978 after the grapes were harvested at over 23
sugar bnx, the wine from each varietal was aged separ
ately in oak barrels Then in the summer of 1981, they
were blended for bottling in the following proportions
54% Cabernet Sauvignon
12 8% alcohol by volume
615% total acidity by volume
3 55 pH
This 1978 Marlstone combines the rich flavors and dark
purple hue of the Merlot with the peppery, herbaceous
nose of the Cabernet As the wine matures in the bottle
these vanetals will continue to blend with the oak ele
ments into a deep, well-rounded wine with a long, smooth
finish and a rich aftertaste If properly cellared this 1978
Marlstone will continue to improve until at least 1995
Marlstone is an excellent accompaniment to a hearty meal
of roast beef, rack of lamb, or a fine selection of cheeses
Serve slightly above cellar temperature (65 75 F j
fifteen dollars, ultimately going to twenty-five to forty dollars
on those Reserve wines. We made a limited quantity, and we sold
it so that it really went into the best shops and the best
restaurants, et cetera.
Those four layers would be our marketing pyramid, and then we
would apply the different varieties to each of those layers.
Sometimes some of the Flintwood Chardonnay would not qualify
for the Flintwood label, so we would reduce it down to the Clos du
Bois label, and sometimes it wasn't even good enough for that, so
we would drop it down to the River Oaks label.
Hicke : It sounds like a huge sorting-out job.
Woods: It was, but it was market-driven. We had the vineyards and what
they could produce, but at the same time, there were times we
would drop Chardonnay into River Oaks that could have been
qualified for Clos du Bois, but we knew what our marketing program
was for Clos du Bois, how many cases we could sell, and we just
had a bumper crop, so we dropped it down into River Oaks label to
sell it. We had flexibility within the pyramid to enable us to
consume the grapes that we were growing, and at the same time,
develop a product line that could approach a multitude of
different consumer groups.
Hicke: It sounds likeand tell me if I'm wrongit sounds like you would
develop an idea for the year of how much of each of these levels
you could sell.
Woods: We had a marketing plan for one year, three years, and five years,
because, in order to know what grapes to plant or what grapes to
secure, we had to know what we were going to be doing five years
Hicke: So then the hard thing would be to fit your grape production and
buying into your marketing plan. This was where the flexibility
comes in, that you could move things around a little bit?
Woods: Right. Mother Nature doesn't let you predict what her production
is going to be. You can take an average over a period of years,
but some years you produce a bumper crop that is twice as big as
your lean years.
Hicke: Do you think other wineries had this sort of a plan?
Woods: I don't know.
Hicke: Because it sounds pretty unusual to me. I mean, it seems more
likely that you would take the grapes that you had and produce and
sell from that, but this sounds like a different approach.
Woods: I think it was best expressed when I was the keynote speaker for
the Club Managers Association of America in Houston, which is one
of the pictures that you had picked out there with the cowboy hat
Hicke: Oh good.
Woods: They said in their introductory remarks that of all of the
California wineries, with the exception of Robert Mondavi, Clos du
Bois was the most represented in the clubs in around America.
It was basically because I went out and found a niche in the
clubs' wine list that was not being filled. I also found that 50
percent of all the club managers in America were Cornell Hotel
So in the 1978 vintage we had a surplus. Again, you're right
to the extent that sometimes you have more grapes than your
projections allow for, so you've got to have some flexibility.
Well, in 1978 we had more Pinot Noir than our projections showed
we could sell at any of these four levels. So with Tom's help, we
went back to Cornell, and we gave them--I think it was about 5,000
cases of Pinot Noir, labeled Clos du Bois Cornell Release, and we
put a picture of the bell tower that is Cornell's answer to the
Campanile on the label. Then all of the revenues- -every dollar
that was made from the sale of that wine went into a general
scholarship fund. So then I took that around to the hotel school
graduates that were in business around the country, and they would
order that wine and think that, one, they were getting some Clos
du Bois experience, but, two, they were doing something good for
their alma matter. So we were able to, at the same time,
contribute to Cornell's scholarship program. I think it was maybe
a quarter of a million dollars that was ultimately raised. I
can't remember the exact numbers. But it was a program that was
successful from both sides, and it certainly helped us develop.
So within that Cornell audience, I was able to develop a
strong club wine list representation. In addition to club
managers, there were hotel managers from the hotel school and
there were restaurant owners. Dick Bradley ran Victoria Station,
and he was a Cornell graduate. He put Clos du Bois in all the
Victoria Station restaurants. So we had a lot of help from the
Cornell Hotel School connection.
One thing that I learned in my hotel school background is that
when you print that wine list, you're investing a lot of money in
a very fancy document, and you don't want to be out of stock two
months after you get the list printed. You want to print it and
have it last for six to twelve months.
So, as a result, I had to make sure that for the number of
restaurants, the number of clubs, the number of wine lists that I
was on, I had enough product to make sure that those guys did not
run out of stock for a reasonable period of time.
That, I think, as much as anything else, enabled us to
establish a positive reputation with these accounts. A lot of
wineries would sell them a wonderful wine, they would buy it,
order their ten cases, and they would go through it faster than
they thought, they would come back, and the winery or distributor
was out of stock. In fact, they were out of stock for ten months
because they didn't have anything until the next vintage was
available. Well, the restaurateur didn't need that problem and he
didn't understand it. He had been used to dealing with Almaden
and Paul Masson and Gallo and others who had unlimited supply, so
he didn't understand how to deal with small, premium quality
wineries that didn't have a warehouse stocked with unlimited
Hicke: That's very interesting. This whole story is fascinating. How
are we doing?
Woods: Well, I think I'm just about run out of voice.
More on California State Personnel Board
[Interview 3: February 13, 1998] f#
Woods: Going back to one of our earlier conversations about my tenure on
the State Personnel Board, you had asked about the people that I
worked with there, and I've pulled up a list of people who
attended my retirement, quote unquote, dinner from the Personnel
Board. I will just briefly read them out and tell you what they
were as I can recall.
William Gianelli, from Pebble Beach, was a member of the State
Personnel Board that I worked with.
Marilyn Hallisey was the former wife of J. Hallisey, who was a
big promoter, supporter, and campaign fund raiser for Jerry Brown,
and I think was the first appointment that Jerry Brown made. Of
course, I'd been appointed by Ronald Reagan.
Brenda Shockley was also a Jerry Brown appointee. She was an
African American who was on the State Personnel Board.
Irene Tovar was a Hispanic appointee by Jerry Brown.
Ron Kurtz was the director of the State Personnel Board at the
time. He came in and replaced the first director that I worked
with, Rich Cammilli. His father was the famous Dolf Cammilli, who
was a pitcher in the major league baseball from the Bay Area.
Charles Walter was an assistant director of the State
Robert Martinez, Laura Aguilera, Edward Boyce, and Henry
Harvey are all on this list. They were staff members, but I can't
tell you exactly what they were doing.
Dave Leighton and Dwayne Morford were assistant directors,
and, along with Dave Tirapelle, were very much involved directly
in the activities of preparing the staff reports in the various
jurisdictions that we had at the Personnel Board.
Then Walter Vaughn, Lynn Whetstone, and James WalterVaughn
and Whetstone were staff people, and I can't think of the exact
Then, let's see, Robert Hill and Lillian Rowett-- former
Personnel Board members that I worked with.
Dr. Robert Wald. He was on the board when I first came on and
was very active. He ran a personnel consulting firm in southern
California. He was very helpful in some of the compensation and
jurisdictional areas that we dealt with on the board.
Then, William McGahey--! think he was just our medical
Anyway, that will give you some reference to cross over with
the report that you're doing for the Personnel Board.
Hicke: Thank you very much for bringing that.
Summary of Winery Startup Objectives
Hicke: Now, back to the wine. You had told me about the evolution of the
winery on the first page. I think we are finished with that. I
think you also told me about the varietals, at least the ones that
you started with. It's been a while since our last meeting, but--
Woods: Well, since it's at the top of your list we can review it. I
think that when we got into the business, as I mentioned before,
our principal objective was to develop the vineyards themselves,
and we were interested in some of the new clones and some of the
new premium varietals that were coming out of the research at
Davis and other sources.
So, although we had inherited some vineyards in the process,
which included varietals that we were not particularly interested
in, like Chenin Blanc and Zinfandel, we did use those in the first
couple of years. Then, ultimately, we ripped those vineyards out
and planted the varieties that we were specifically interested in.
In the whites, we felt that to have a commanding position in
whites demanded that you have a Chardonnay, and that the
Chardonnay variety was one that was uniquely adaptable to the
Sonoma climate and microclimates and soil combinations that we
were seeing over there.
Anyway, as I think we discussed before, Sonoma County is
somewhat unique compared to Napa in that you have this diversity
of soil types, from sandy to clay loams, and all of the various
in-between elements, as well as about fourteen different
microclimate areas that exist within the county. So if you
combine and match the different microclimates with the different
soil types, you can come up with situations that may produce the
definitive variety that you're interested in.
So we decided that Chardonnay was good in a multitude of these
combinations, and that, in addition, we had certain
characteristics in our vineyards, especially in Alexander Valley,
that were good for Sauvignon Blanc. That was also true in the
vineyards over in Dry Creek. We had some interesting Johannesburg
Riesling and Gewiirztraminer sites that we wanted to plant.
We felt good because, again, that accomplished my marketing
objective, which was that although we were a very low-volume house
compared to the big international wineries, I wanted to have a
multitude of facings--or opportunities for facings--in the retail
accounts so that we had impact at the store level.
Early Harvest Riesling
Woods: The reason we were able to do that was by coming up with a product
that I thought was somewhat unique. It would be called an Early
Harvest Riesling. Later we carried that over into the
Gewiirztraminer program. And that was picking the grapes when they
were fairly low in sugar, in the nineteen to twenty Brix area, but
rather high in acid. Then we would leave enough residual sugar in
the wine to complement that acid level, keep it from being too
astringent- -not too astringent, but too sour. Then we would
produce that at what was then considered a low alcohol level- -in
the 10 percent alcohol level--just above what I think the legal
At one point when we got started, our legislation required us
to have a higher alcohol level than we really felt was necessary.
It went back to the days when the growers kind of commanded the
legislature in California, and they didn't want anyone coming in
and more or less diluting the wine by allowing them to have a
lower alcohol level.
So we were legally producing the Early Harvest at the 10
percent alcohol range. I found that it had a great following as
long as we had a balance between the residual sugar and the higher
Gewiirztraminer and Other Rieslings
Woods: Then we had our regular Gewiirztraminer and our regular Riesling a
little bit higher in alcohol, still with the residual sugar taste.
There, you're sort of appealing to what we found in the American
market was a certain percentage of those consumers that really
wanted to have a bit of sweetness in the wine. And we left some
of the carbon dioxide from the fermentation process in the wine,
so it had a bit of spritziness to it. The higher acid sort of
accentuated that, and you had a nice, pleasing action on the
palate with those wines. They made either a nice aperitif wine or
a nice wine for spicier foods. In the case of Gewiirztraminer, we
were very successful in getting it placed in a lot of Chinese
restaurants, because it tended to complement the multitude of
flavors that you have in a Chinese restaurant, and yet it was
sweet enough and with enough spritziness to it that it was able to
cut through the various oils, et cetera, in Chinese cooking.
Who developed these various blends and came up with
Woods: I believe that I probably initiated all of this in terms of the
marketing strategy, and then Tom Hobart and John Hawley
implemented it at the winery and the vinification level.
We then discovered that there also were those times when we
could develop enough botrytis on the grapes that we could create
Late Harvest. We didn't try and get into any of the various terms
that the Germans use as to the level of sugars, et cetera, we just
determined that we could get a distinctive botrytis overlay and a
sugar level that would be in the higher ranges, sometimes running
up toward the 8 or 9 percent level. We would call it Late Harvest
and put it out, largely in half bottles, although we did do a
particular vineyard designation on the Gewiirz called Alexandria,
which was about a 4 percent residual produced in three-quarter
liter bottles. That was really one of our initial vineyard
Hicke: Alexandria is a vineyard?
Woods: Alexandria was just the name that we gave to one of our Gewiirz
Hicke: When was this ready to drink?
Woods: I think, with the exception of Chardonnay, all of our white wines
were designed to be bottled and sold in the first year of the
vintage. If it was a 1978, then we expected to sell it out before
the "79 harvest started. The exception would be the Late Harvest
wines, which, because they didn't come out every year, we released
in partial quantities. We didn't want them all to go out at one
time; we wanted to have some in the warehouse for those
restaurants, et cetera, that wanted to have continuity.
Some of the Chardonnays required more barrel aging than one
year. It was only with our barrel- fermented Chardonnay that we
released it at the end of the first year. It usually had about
six months in oak and six months in stainless steel, then we
bottled it and released it. But then some of the other
Chardonnays that had more time in oak would take longer.
Then, with the Sauvignon Blanc, we only had two. We had the
regular Sauvignon Blanc, and then we had a Reserve Sauvignon
Blanc, where we had twice as much wood time as we would have in
Woods: In the early days, we anticipated that Chardonnay would be our
number one selling varietal, so we concentrated on planting
Chardonnay in a multitude of different microclimates and soil
types, so we could see where it would do best, and, in some cases,
found that we could blend these different types and create a nice,
unique flavor. Later on, as the business developed, we also began
buying Chardonnay from places like Carneros and other vineyards
within Sonoma County, to the point that, at one time before we
sold the winery, we were purchasing over 50 percent of the
Chardonnay grapes from other growers throughout the Sonoma County
I would say that the basic Chardonnay--we started off in
'74/'75 with just the standard format. Then in I think, perhaps,
the '76 or '77 vintage, John Hawley gave me a lecture on why the
French were so pleased with their centuries of barrel-fermented
Chardonnay. So beginning in '76 or '77, we started experimenting,
thanks to John Hawley, with barrel fermentation. Up until that
time, we had used stainless steel fermentation and storage in
barrels after the wine had been made. With this experimentation,
we put the must in the barrel and applied the yeast to it and
fermented it in the barrel itself.
Part of that processthere are so many really unique flavors,
but the fermentation in the barrel seemed to pull out both more
extractives, as well as allowing the elements in the barrel to
precipitate out some of the really harsh, bitter elements that
were in the wine and the barrel. Then, after we were finished, we
would rack that wine off and put it back into clean barrels and
age it for a period of six to nine months.
By 1978, we decided that we would do all of our Chardonnay
with barrel fermentation. I decided that even though it was a
term that was not particularly well known by the consumer, that I
would put "Barrel Fermented" on the front of the label. I would
say Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, because I felt that it gave us a
distinction over all the other Chardonnays in California, that
somehow or another, barrel fermenting, whether you knew what it
was or not, you had the feeling that maybe this wine may have been
made a little bit different from anything else.
Woods: That it may have been handled in a smaller quantity. It may have
been more custom made, more hand delivered, so to speak. So we
started that, and it took off. It was a very widely accepted
element, both for ourselves and for our salesmen with the
Hicke: It probably tasted good, too!
Woods: I think that's true of all the Clos du Bois wines. As I mentioned
earlier, every time that we went into a comparative wine tasting,
we always were amazed at how many people came back over to our
table and said, "We tasted everything in the room, but your wines
are the wines where everything we tasted, we liked. The others
had certain wines on the table that we really liked, but yours is
the only table where everything you had we liked."
I think that was sort of a hallmark for Clos du Bois: making
consumer-friendly wines. Hopefully, it was at a value that most
people could recognize for comparable quality. But we tried not
to have wines that would require your getting used to them, tried
not serve wines that required somewhat of a learning period in
order to appreciate them.
Hicke: Let me go back to the barrel fermentation for just a minute. What
kind of barrels did you use for the fermentation?
Woods: John Hawley was a great experimenter. He loved to research
everything that we did, and he did it in depth. We did a lot of
different types of barrels, but we found that the French clearly
were superior to the American oak, and, within the French oak
category, we found there were different qualities from the
different forests. So, when we bought our barrels, we would try
to specify the wood from specific French forests.
Now, John always had questions about-- No matter how much we
specified certain woods, neither one of us was capable, upon
receiving a barrel, of being able to look at that wood and say it
came from this forest or that forest. We had to take the word of
the barrel cooper as to what we had. But, generally speaking, we
were satisfied that we were getting a different type of product
from these different forests, to the extent that then we would
take those components and blend them back into one master blend
before we bottled it.
Hicke: And you used all new barrels for the fermentation?
Woods: In the beginning we used all new barrels, but gradually we found
that especially with the Chardonnay--we could use those barrels
for two to three years, and then we rotated them into our red wine
Once we were far enough along to be sophisticated enough to
put this all on the computer, we were able to utilize those
barrels for about eight years before we sold them. That's three
years in white and five years in red. But at each stage along the
way, new oak barrels would be added in, because it was necessary
to add that new oak in some proportion to each wine that we had.
So, even in the red, we started with new barrels, but the
percentages of older barrels were higher than with the white.
Hicke: This is for aging, now, with the wine.
Woods: This is for aging. With the fermentation process, we would
typically try to use largely new barrels in the fermentation
process, but because of the volume that we built up to, it became
necessary to hold the wine--the Chardonnay wine, or must, rather--
in refrigerated conditions until we could cycle the first barrel
fermentation group through, and then we would start the second
group. I think we would wind up, perhaps, breaking our regular
Chardonnay into as many as three batches, because of the load.
When you're using a fifty-five gallon barrel, and you're producing
sixty, seventy, eighty thousand cases of that wine, it's
impractical to try to have enough barrels to do it all at one
time. So we were in a constant phasing process to run that barrel
fermentation through the number of barrels we had.
Hicke: It sounds like a huge tracking process to keep track of.
Woods: Right. It was. Without the computer, I don't think we would have
been able to do it. Skye Berry came along about that time and
became our comptroller. He was a fellow of some experience and
some years, and he was the oldest member of our team, but he was
very helpful in all of these financial controls and administrative
details and flow charts. So he was a big help to John and Tom in
maintaining this inventory and the processing.
Hicke: Anything more on the varietals?
Woods: Well, that is pretty much it until we get into some of the other
marketing strategy aspects that came later. That pretty much
takes care of the whites.
Woods: With the reds, we had a little bit of Zinfandel, but those were
just inherited grapes; we were phasing those out. We started with
Pinot Noir. We had some very successful Pinot Noir, but then we
ran into some years in which the weather was very warm, and the
Pinot Noir just didn't seem to prosper in Alexander Valley or Dry
Creek. So we gradually tended to drop Pinot Noir from the line,
although every now and then we would come back into that category.
I love Pinot Noir, and I was always disappointed that we didn't do
a better job with Pinot Noir on a more consistent basis.
Cabernet Sauvignon was our kingpin. It was the one that we
concentrated on and developed. In 1976-77, we began to blend some
of our Merlot grapes into the Cabernet and found that it made a
much more consumer- friendly wine, one that was drinkable at an
earlier age and had more depth and complexity, but at the same
time it had a nice delicacy relative to the somewhat harsher
Merlot became a very interesting item for us. There were
times when we would let some of the employees pick out a bottle of
wine to take home with them for the weekends or to have for a
Friday evening celebration or something, and we found that, more
and more, the majority of employees were tapping into the Merlot
stock. Just taking a straight bottle of Merlot was something that
seemed to be more preferable to our employees than Cabernet
So that encouraged us to try, in 1978, to produce a Merlot
product that had about 25 percent Cabernet blended in. We did
produce a couple of thousand cases, and it was sensational. It
just walked right out the door. So the next year we increased it,
and it jumped to about eight or nine thousand cases.
By 1982, we were producing over 40,000 cases of Merlot, and to
the best of my research, we certainly were the largest Merlot
producers in California. I would think the next closest one was
about 15,000-20,000 cases. But even going to Italy and other
parts of the New World areas, we couldn't find any winery that was
producing as many as 40,000 cases of a Merlot label product. So I
think we were safe in saying that we were, at that time, the
largest Merlot producers in the world.
It really was a sensational product for us, because
simultaneously to that, there was a phenomenon developing in the
United States which-- As you know, we went through the growth
cycle in the seventies with wine, where wines were largely
replacing cocktails. That's why white wine became 85 percent of
the California exports to other states, because it was the white
wine that people were using to replace the martinis and the other
cocktails that they were having before dinner or at a bar. At
cocktail parties, you would always see white wine; you'd very
seldom see red wine. The red was only consumed by ethnic groups
or at dinner tables, when it was appropriateat restaurants.
Selling Wine by the Glass
Woods: So that phenomenon continued until, oh, perhaps the end of the
seventies decade. Then a new phenomenon started to emerge, and
that was where bars and restaurants were establishing wine by the
glass. That came about, I think, largely because the public was
consuming enough quantities of wine that a restaurateur was
willing to risk opening a bottle of an evening and assume that he
would sell three or four glasses that evening and that he wouldn't
have to waste the rest.
Hicke: I think, if they sell two, they retrieve the price of a bottle,
but maybe not. [chuckles]
Woods: The formula varies from restaurant to restaurant. They build in a
protection, to some extent. But I would say that certainly if
they sold four glasses of the five that are in the bottle, they
would retrieve their wine list price. So the fifth one was extra
But the main thing that they were finding was that they were
getting more people to sit at the bar--or at the dinner tableand
try wine instead of cocktails. And that was, I think, the big
plus for our Merlot program, because it was a chance for a person
who had never heard of Merlot before to listen to their sommelier,
who said, "If you would like a red wine, one that we would
strongly recommend you try, because it's so easy to like and so
smooth, is Merlot."
So, especially the women would sample it. They weren't
interested in red wine, and many of them were getting tired of
just drinking the same old white wine. It got boring, so they
wanted to try something different. They would try a Merlot, like
it, and then order it for dinner, order it by the bottle.
Woods: It was the biggest sampling program that we could have wanted, and
of course it was being done, not at our expense, but at the
expense of the restaurateur.
At that time, we even launched programs. I created a special
restaurant package, so to speak, where we would sell a case of
fifteen bottles of wine for the price of twelve, and we called it
a restaurant case. So the restaurateur would have three extra
bottles of wine that he could consider to be free goods that he
could then sample legitimately to his customers. So, instead of
charging his normal markup at five dollars a glass, he could
charge four dollars a glass and still make the same profit, and
yet it encouraged more people to sample.
Hicke: Good idea.
Woods: It worked quite well for us. That, I think, got Merlot going.
Labeling Varietals by the Color
Woods: The second thing, which was totally serendipitous, was that I
decided with our-- In the beginning, as you know, I created a
Clos du Bois brand image that each varietal had a different color
on the label and a different color on the capsule. Within the
Gewiirz we had different gold or bronze tones, the Rieslings were
green tones for the different kinds of Rieslings, the Cabernets
were a very rich tone of burgundy- -which is a strange combination
of namesbut they were darker tones, whereas Pinot Noir was more
reddish-crimson tones, and the Chardonnay was sort of a yellow-
orange combination, and the Sauvignon Blanc was more of a silver,
So I said, What are we going to do with Merlot? Well, blue
came to mind, but I wanted a rich, royal blue. So I put on a
royal blue capsule and got as close to that as I could on the
label. [see following page]
That color, up until then, had never been used on wine. For
some reason blue is an anathema to the wine business, and because
I didn't know better, I just didn't realize that that was supposed
to be the kiss of death. Instead, it was a wonderful attraction
on the shelf. It was the only shelf item that had royal blue on
it. Peopleespecially womenwould just walk up to the bottle
like they were magnetized and take it off of the shelf because of
Hicke: Is it still true that there are very few, if any, blue labels?
Woods: There are a lot of them. Everybody's come to that now. They want
Hicke: That's what you get for having a good idea.
Woods: Well, but it worked for us to get it established.
So the Merlot became a real trademark, I thought, of Clos du
Bois. We did not win a lot of medals with our Merlot, because we
didn't make the big Merlots. We won a lot of medals with Clos du
Bois, but not with Clos du Bois Merlot. It was just a wine made
more for the people than for the wine aficionados,
was a major element for us.
That, I think,
Woods: Then, as we developed within the varietal category, the marketing
aspects, again, seemed to me to-- I was always concerned about
the fact that there was no ability on the part of the winery to
establish a higher profit margin on the wines that were in the
more limited supply. In every other business that I have been in,
when you have a broad-based, mass-marketed item, you establish a
lower profit margin than when you have a very limited, handmade,
custom derived item; whether it be automobiles, or whether it be
consumer-oriented products with Procter & Gamble, you always tend
to take the limited supply items and put a higher profit margin on
it, because the tendency is that you charge the same amount of
overhead to both products, but in reality, the product that is
custom made or more limitedyou tend to devote more management
time to it, you tend to spend more of your fine tuning on that
higher quality product. You're proud of it; you want it to be the
I decided that we had different qualities within each variety,
and that what we needed to do was establish a tier effect so we
could increase our profit margins as we got into the higher tiers.
So I established what I called our three-tiered marketing program.
At the first tier, we had all of the basic products that were
made from each of these varietals.
With the second tier, we went and found out which were our
best vineyards, or which vineyards we anticipated would
consistently produce the better product year after year, where we
could afford to spend more time, give it better, newer wood aging,
longer wood aging, more time in the bottle, et cetera. With
those, we established our vineyard designation wines. We selected
those particular sites and we gave them names such as Marlstone,
the name we had assigned to a vineyard that had the Bordeaux
varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot. We even
had some Malbec planted. There were the Bordeaux varieties in the
Hicke: Cabernet Franc?
Woods: Yes, Cabernet Franc. Those all came in in later years.
We then had an all-Cabernet vineyard called Briarcrest in
Alexander Valley, an all-Cabernet vineyard called Woodleaf in Dry
Creek, we had an all-Chardonnay vineyard called Calcare in
Alexander Valley, and an all-Chardonnay vineyard called Flintwood
in Dry Creek, and an all-Pinot Noir vineyard called Cherry Hill in
Dry Creek. Those varieties, along with the Alexandria
Gewurztraminer , became our second tier. With those, I tried to
establish a profit margin that, after all the identifiable extra
costs, would still bring us a substantially greater profit on sale
than the regular product.
We thought that our regular products would, perhaps, bring us
about, oh, 50 to 55 percent of our gross sales, that the vineyard
designation products would bring us about 25 to 35 percent of
gross sales, but at a higher profit margin.
Then, for the third level, I felt it was very important to
have the finest wines that we could makenot necessarily every
year, but in those years where we identified ourselves as having
made a product that was superior. We would call those Reserve,
and those would be an even higher profit margin than the Vineyard
Designation wines. It would represent somewhere in the 5 to 15
percent of the wine, but some years it might be zero. Or maybe
you would have a Cabernet, but not a Chardonnay Reserve.
We really tried to use the Reserve with the true intent of the
meaningthat it was something special. It got better oak, better
treatment. Reserves didn't necessarily have to come from one
vineyard. We would select from a barrel here, a barrel there, and
we would make it into the Reserve wine.
Hicke: What was the variation in profit margins from the low to the high?
Woods: I'll begin and see if I can come up with some better numbers
later. But, in essence, we adopted a formula where, if the
grapes, the vinification, the packaging all of those components
were combined, they would represent 25 percent of our wholesale
price. In other words, if we were selling the case for a hundred
dollars, we wanted all the elements of cost up through the
packaging of the product to come in at about 25 percent. It could
be 30 percent on some of the regular wines, but with the Vineyard
Designation, we wanted that to come in at between 20 and 22
percent. With the Reserve wines, we wanted it to be in the
neighborhood of 15 to 18 percent.
Then, on top of that, you had your administrative costs, your
marketing costs, all of your fixed costs, and then you worked
toward-- Well, I think I misspoke earlier when I said that
What I'm talking about is the price that our distributor would
ultimately sell it for to the retailer. In other words, if we
were going to sell the product out of the winery directly to a
customernot to a retail customerbut say we were going to sell
it for a hundred dollars, that meant that the distributor would
probably get that product at about seventy dollars a case, and
then he would mark it up to a hundred dollars as well, whether
you're in New York or Los Angeles. If we sold direct from the
winery, we would sell it for a hundred dollars, but we sold it
into a three-tier distribution. We had to give the distributor
something that enabled them to compete with the winery direct.
Hicke: I see. You did a lot of figuring to work all this out.
Woods: Well, there are always two elements that amaze me in the wine
business, outside of the big, sophisticated wineries or some of
the companies like Robert Mondavi. When you got into wineries
that were below the 100,000 case level, I was always amazed that
they had very good winemaking techniques and very good vineyard
knowledge, but they didn't know much about marketing, they didn't
know much about administrative controls, cost controls, financial
controls. In those thingsmarketing and f inance they were not
We, in fact, started a company called Compudata that Skye
Berry ran which offered administrative support for other wineries.
It was because we felt like we had done more in Sonoma County than
almost any of the other small wineries, and so we were offering
that for-profit service to other people.
Hicke: That's one reason why this is such a fascinating story, because
it's such a different angle on the business. I mean, I've
interviewed wine growers and wine makers, but they don't have the
kinds of goals and objectives that you developed, which I think
certainly were contributing to the success.
Woods: Fortunately, we were coming in from outside the industry when we
started. I mean, we had backgrounds in other businesses.
Hicke: Oh, your experience and knowledge certainly were unique, I would
think, for a wine business.
Mary Ann Graf
Woods: You mentioned Mary Ann Graf. Mary Ann was extremely helpful. In
fact, Mary Ann was probably one of our strongest early supporters
and responsible for our early success with winemaking. She had
left Simi [Winery] and started her own consulting business. Her
assistant Marty was also very helpful. You may come across the
name before I do. She has her own wine label now. Mary Ann and
her assistant did all of our quality control analysis through the
laboratory. But I remember when Tom Hobart and I decided that we
really needed to go beyond our level of knowledge in winemaking
[laughs] --which was very minimal and certainly not trained; what
we had picked up was mostly by osmosis--we went to Mary Ann, and
it was through her recommendation that we found John Hawley.
Hicke: So she was crucial in several ways. But she was kind of
legendary, too, at least in Sonoma County.
Woods: Right. She was wonderful to us.
Hicke: How long did she consult for you?
Woods: I guess as long as she was in the consulting business. Marty was
the assistant. They may have split up at some point and Marty
kept the basic business and we continued with her.
Hicke: Over a long period?
Woods: Yes, it was a long period, many years.
Woods: Then the second person that I think was responsible for a lot of
our early product quality success was William Bonetti.
In the beginning, as I mentioned to you, we were called the
Winery on Wheels, because we didn't have a full-blown winery
facility until, really, well into the eighties. But, after Rod
Strong took care of our first couple vintages, at different
phases, we had the work done at several vineyards: at Chateau St.
Jean, at Napa Franciscan. Then, at that time, the growers had
taken over [Chateau] Souverain, had purchased it from Pillsbury,
who I guess had built it, originally. Anyway, the growers felt
that they needed to protect themselves from the marketplace, so--
it was not mandatory in order to become part of the Sonoma
Growers, but growers put in a thousand dollars per ton and made an
investment to buy Souverain, and then borrowed the rest from the
co-op bank. For every thousand dollars you put in, you were able
to force a ton of grapes on the winery. So, if you couldn't sell
your grapes to some other winery, Souverain had to take it up to a
ton per thousand dollars of investment. The result was that in
good years Souverain didn't have any grapes; in bad years they
were flooded. [laughter]
Hicke: It's not the way you really want it to be.
Woods: Bill Bonetti, who was a wonderful winemaker, was just going crazy
trying to keep all this in balance and still make a decent product
out of it at that time. So I went to him, and, working with the
board of directors, who are growers, we worked out a deal where we
could bring a certain number of tons of our best grapes in to
Bill, and he would make the wine for Clos du Bois with them for
our label and bottle it for us. You would call it, in essence, a
private label proposition, but Bonetti was delighted and really
worked very hard. I just can't imagine anyone being as willing to
produce such high quality wine for somebody else's grapes, which
would, in turn, be turned over to somebody else to sell as their
product, as William Bonetti did.
In one instance at the Sonoma Fair, we won a whole series of
medals several golds, et cetera. When I went up to accept the
gold medal, I saidand I really felt very sincere about this--
"This medal is not just for myself or for the employees of Clos du
Bois. A large portion of this medal goes to Bill Bonetti of
Souverain because of the quality of workmanship that he put into
I told everybody that. I didn't want to hide the fact that
these wines were being made by other people. It wasn't exactly
good for us from a marketing standpoint, but, at the same time, I
felt like it was the honorable thing to do. Certainly within the
Sonoma community, it was valuable for everybody to realize that
Bill Bonetti was the responsible entity there.
It was very disappointing when he left Souverain to go work
for Bryce Jones at Sonoma-Cutrer [Vineyards], because he took away
a large portion of our success. Of course, by that time-- We
started with Bill before John Hawley, and then, by the time Bill
left, John Hawley had joined us, so we were able to replace Bill's
talents with John, but if we hadn't have had John come along at
that time, I don't know what we would have done.
Hicke: There are a lot of things on this outline, some of which we've
covered and some you may not want to talk about. So maybe you can
pick out the topics you want to discuss.
Woods: I think that the vineyard management aspect is a key element in
the success of Clos du Bois, because when we began, we expected to
have all of our grapes come from our own vineyards. It was the
one thing that we were putting our money into instead of bricks
and mortar for the winerydeveloping the vineyard.
Tom Hobart ran that until it got to be such a big job that we
hired Hughes Ryan to run the vineyards under Tom. Hughes Ryan at
that time was married to Kathleen Heitz, Joe Heitz's daughter. I
guess Kathleen now is running Joe Heitz's Winery.
But we also had, in the early days I think we've talked about
that before- -we had a vineyard consultant who later went on to
work with the Jordan Winery. He was the general manager of Jordan
and then went over to run a winery and vineyard in Dry Creek. I
believe his name was Mike Rohen.
He was never an employee, but he was a consultant that helped
us lay out the vineyards and select the right soils to plant the
different varieties. We felt that the vineyards were where we
wanted to be sure that we had the best of all our workers. We
hired, very early on, good professional talent to assist us in the
vineyard development. I think that a lot of important things we
were doing in the vineyards, but, again, it wasn't my particular
expertise. I really felt Tom Hobart and Hughes were far more
knowledgeable about how to put those things together, and I left
it pretty much in their hands.
Of course, also, within the context of our operations, we were
separated in the early days by each of the vineyards being a
separate subchapter S or limited partnership arrangement. Dennis
Malone was the chief factotum in managing those entities for us
and did all the financial and all of the other planning connected
with that. Subsequentlyand I don't know the yearbut we
decided to reorganize the property and wound up blending them back
together to make it into a corporation. We distributed shares in
the corporation to all the different partners that were in the
various vineyard entities.
[Looking at outline] We did a lot of experimentation on
trellising and canopy management. We didn't do any dry farming
versus irrigation testing. I think we were pretty well convinced,
right from the beginning, that every vineyard had to be protected
by a frost protection system, and as long as you had that, you had
the ability to irrigate and incorporate various fertilizers, et
cetera, in the system. So we integrated that into virtually every
vineyard that we plantedit was the solid set irrigation system.
Hicke: From the looks of things, dry farming in that area isn't possible.
Woods: I think so. It may have been possible, but you have to be up in
the hills, where it's just so expensive, if that's what you wanted
Rootstocks: we had a nursery that I bought over in Dry Creek
that produced both St. George and AXR1, and those were the
rootstocks that we used in those days. We then turned the
rootstock over to the nurseries to do the bench grafting for us.
We planted mostly bench-grafted vines.
I think that we were very fortunate that during the time that
we were growing, we really didn't bump into a lot of disease
problems. The phylloxera B had not struck at that time. So, I
don't recall diseases being a principal problem. About the most
serious thing we had was oak root fungus that struck us at a
couple of early planted vineyards. We had to gradually rip that
out and fumigate, but, in the big scheme of things, they were not
Machine harvesting we did early on. Certainly, by the early
eighties we were doing some machine harvesting and found it was
wonderful for nighttime production. In those vineyards where we
had been thoughtful enough to plan ahead for machine harvesting,
they were fine, but in some of the others where we had more or
less used the older techniques, where we had retained some of the
older vines that were there, we found that machine harvesting was
devastating to those old vines. So we did not use it across the
At the same time, we didn't want to put all of our eggs in the
machine harvesting basket. We wanted to try and balance out
between the hand harvested and the machine harvested. In the
early days when we were selling grapes to other wineries, there
were some wineries that didn't want machine harvested grapes.
Summary of Marketing Strategy
Woods: [reading from list] Marketing and sales.
Hicke: Well, we've talked a lot about that.
Woods: I think we've covered a great deal of this.
Hicke: If there were any changes that came along later in the eighties,
Woods: Well, I think I said earlier that we designed a marketing strategy
in the beginning and followed through, I think, with a great deal
One, we talked about the consumer- friendly wines; two, about
the diversity of different items in order to give us an ability,
not only to get multiple facings at the retail level, but also if
we went down the street selling to restaurants, we wanted to make
sure that if one restaurant took one of our Chardonnay products,
we had a different Chardonnay product we could present to the next
restaurant so that they both had Clos du Bois, but they had
something different to offer their customers than their
competitor. So, having several different items within a single
variety proved valuable both at the retail level and at the on-
The third aspect of our marketing strategy was that we wanted
to be very strong in the on-sale business. We wanted the on-sale
to dictate the marketing of our product as opposed to the retail
Hicke: What's on-sale?
Woods: On-sale is when you sell it through restaurants and hotels, where
it's consumed on premise as opposed to taking it home. The unique
thing about Clos du Bois was that we felt very strongly that you
had to market this product in order to establish it. You couldn't
just sit back and wait for the orders to be placed. So, when we
went into a market, we would do a tremendously involved and
sophisticated survey of distributors to find the right distributor
for our product. Then, when I went in and selected that
distributor, appointed him, and had our initial sales meeting, I
would spend enough time so that I could work with every single one
of their key wine salesmen for at least a day.
Woods: I would make it a practice with every distributor to work with
each of their key wine salesmen for a day before even turning it
over to our sales manager for that particular territory.
What I tried to instill in each of these wine salesmen was the
fact that, even though Clos du Bois was new to their stable, that
even though Clos du Bois was smaller than their breadwinners the
national and international wine companies they were representing
and we certainly were never going to be the guys that were keeping
the doors open, there was something very important about Clos du
Bois, that we had unique elements that made our product very easy
People liked to drink our products. Our packaging was very
eye-appealing, the pricing was reasonably comfortableyou weren't
stretching to the outer limits, except maybe with some of the
Reserves but the basic product was at a price-comfortable level
for the retailer and the restaurateur, and because we were
vineyard oriented, because we felt our product came from the soil,
we had a story to tell that most people can relate to. Most
retailers, most restaurateurs have a sympathy with the farmer,
have an innate sense of wanting to get back to the soil in some
way. We could provide that link through the salesman.
I wanted every salesman he could represent 300 brands in his
book, but I felt that when a salesman gets up in the morning and
prepares each day to make his calls, there are only going to be
six or seven wines that he is going to be able to sell. He'll
take orders for all these others you know, the guy will say do
you have this or that, sure- -but there are about seven brands he
can sell to each of his accounts, because if you get beyond that,
people run out of time and patience. You can't make your pitch.
So, even though we weren't the biggest in his book, even
though we weren't his most important, I wanted to make his job so
easy that we became one of those seven in that lineup, so that
every day, to every customer, he had some reason to mention Clos
du Bois. We had a special package that he could sell, or we had a
special promotion going on in one of our items, but it was
important to me that every salesman have somewhere in the back of
his mind a reason to talk to his account about Clos du Bois. That
became sort of the theme of our sales strategy in the marketplace.
The result was that, when we went into a market, we said to
each of the salesmen, "The first thing we want you to do in your
territory"--where they were geographically oriented, and most of
the salesmen were at that time--"we want you to go, not to the
retailer, but we want you to start with the restaurateur and
hotels. Because if you can get Clos du Bois on enough menus here
in your territory, people are going to come and see Clos du Bois.
They're going to say to themselves, 'My goodness. Here is this
product, Clos du Bois. I saw it in the restaurant last night, I
saw it in the restaurant two weeks ago. I know that these guys
see every wine that comes down the road, they screen their wines,
and they do taste testings. These are the experts, and yet they
all seem to be picking Clos du Bois. I'm going to get some of
that at my retailer.'"
So then they go to the retailer, they request Clos du Bois,
the retailer calls you and places an order, and you get the ball
rolling at the retail level. And we do all this without
advertising, because we're not big enough to advertise, but the
restaurateur will do our advertising for us. The placement on his
menu will be a significant recommendation.
So that was really the essence of our marketing strategy. I
think if you go through and track the record that we achieved,
that we probably- -and certainly among the premium wines of
Californiawith the exception of Mondavi, I think we would
probably have the most representation at the club, restaurant, and
hotel level of any winery at the hundred-thousand-case level.
And we went after the best restaurants, too. We weren't just
interested in the guys who had only ten or fifteen items on their
list; we wanted to go after the guys who considered their list to
be the sort of the creme de la creme of the marketplace. That, I
think, was very helpful to us in getting the name of Clos du Bois
before a lot of consumers that would otherwise have never heard of
I mentioned the fact that sales at the winery was something I
thought wouldn't be significant. Then I eventually found out what
a dummy 1 was, but that sales at the winery turned out to be very
But, I think, again, going back to the distributor sales
people, we would always create programs and incentives in the
different marketsNew York, Atlanta, Dallaswhere we would have
competitions among the salesmen, and those who won the competition
would get a free four- or five-day trip here to California. We
would put them up, give them an educational program, and take them
through a retail operation, the vineyards, and the winery. Tim
ATLANTA REVELS IN SPRINGTIME
Frank Woods of Clos du Bois receives a certificate of apprecia
tion from Hector Bourg and Frank Stone (left to right). "We
concentrate on grapes from Alexander Valley and Dry Creek
Valley I'm happy to see the appellation control coming because
if will be so specific and it will help consumers," Woods
commented Clos du Bois wines featured with dinner were 1979
Chardonnay, 1979 Pino/ /Voir, and 1979 Early Harvest
Shippey and Debbie Price did a lot of the tour guiding and
entertaining of these people when they came out here.
So, just like the consumer that went into the retail room,
when a salesman left here, he felt that of all of the wineries he
represented, Clos du Bois was his favorite; Clos du Bois was the
one that he was most warmly connected with.
They would be out here to see three or four wineries,
sometimes, and we would get letters back that said, "You know, we
learned a lot at these other wineries, we went to the fanciest
restaurants in Napa with so-and-so, and we got to meet all of the
winemakers we'd been reading about in books, but in none of the
other wineries that we visited did we feel as much a part of the
family as we did at Clos du Bois. And we have a very warm spot in
our hearts for Clos du Bois and the way you treat us, the way you
incorporate us in, and the honesty with which you dealt with us.
You never told us that everything was perfect; you showed us the
flaws, you showed us the vines that didn't do well, you showed us
the places where you planted in clay soil and the roots didn't
grow through, and you showed us some of the times where you had a
faulty barrel and it leaked, and all those things. At the same
time, you showed us how much you cared about making the wine and
how important it was to you to have the finest quality that you
could make and use the value of growing those grapes all the way
through to the end consumer to make that quality consistent and
appealing." So, we created, I believe, in the minds of these
distributor salesmen a feeling that far beyond the volume that we
represented for their particular area, they were interested in our
success, because our success pleased them a great deal.
Hicke: Anything else to say about public relations?
Woods: I think that one of the key events that was created in terms of a
public relations move occurred in the mid-eighties. It was a
concept I had come up with, but it was implemented by Margaret
Harding, who was our public relations director.
What we did was to go into a marketplace like Miami, and we
would hold a competition for the top restaurants in the area to
produce a dish that could be made with Clos du Bois Merlot, or in
Indianapolis we did it with Clos du Bois Chardonnay. Then we
would have a big competition with a lot of the wine and food
writers there, and it was a big deal. We had a big weekend, and
the winner would receive a week-long trip to California. We would
wine and dine them and give them all the bells and whistles.
Then we took each of those restaurant recipes, which were
perhaps as many as twenty to thirty in a given market, and we
would publish them in a booklet which we distributed throughout
the country to all of our distributors to pass out to all of their
customers. If you bought a bottle of Clos du Bois, you could have
this restaurant recipe book for the Merlot wine or the Chardonnay
wine. They were designed so that they could be torn out and put
inside a recipe box, if you didn't want to keep them in the book
Because each one of the recipes had a picture of the chef that
had created the dish, it created an interest in our winery on the
part of the chefs in the business. So when they were influencing
the buying of the wine for their restaurantmany times they were
owner /chefs- -they would always have a warm spot for Clos du Bois.
They loved the publicity that we were giving them around the
country. They wanted to see their name and their face in print.
That was probably the most successful public relations event that
Hicke: Marvelous. They identified with Clos du Bois.
Woods: Right. I think there was another very significant move. It was a
totally different level of activity, because it was small, it was
discrete, and yet it was one of the things that I think helped us
the most at the retail level. Back in the late seventies, we
created a program where in every single one of our varieties, for
every single item within that variety, we produced what we called
a case card and a shelf card.
The shelf card was one that was designed to stick underneath
the bottle on the shelf and hang down. It was handwritten; it
looked like the grocer himself or the wine merchant had written
out this little sound bite description. If it had won a gold
medal or a silver medal, it had that little seal on there.
Then, the case card was a more formal presentation that gave
the guy who was stocking the shelf the in-depth information about
where the grapes were picked, what their qualities were, how the
oak barrels had been used. It was a two- or three-paragraph
description of the product which the consumer wouldn't read
because they're traveling through a store at too fast a pace, and
maybe the clerks would read it and maybe they wouldn't, but it
would be there for them if they wanted it. It was at virtually no
cost to us; we just stuffed it into every case we made. So when
you opened up a case, you had both a shelf card to put on there
and a case card to give you the information.
That device got us-- Somehow or another, we became very well
known to the retail trade; they became very knowledgeable about
Clos du Bois. It may have been a difficult name for them to
pronounce at first, but they learned to pronounce it because they
were interested in it, because we seemed to be willing to give
them information and help that the other bigger wineries were not
giving them. We seemed to be interested in their problems. Their
problems- -somebody comes up and says, "What is this? What's this
[purposely mispronouncing] 'Close du Boys' Chardonnay?"
[laughter] They had something to tell them. We'd given them
something-- They couldn't remember what the salesmen had said;
maybe the manager met with the salesman and the wine clerks didn't
see him, but they're there at the shelf level where people are
asking questions, and they had a little card that gave some
Hicke: That shows a very good bedside manner for treating your customers.
Woods : It was important for us to find ways to make Clos du Bois unique
in their minds and make them feel comfortable with us and about
us. Those were just some of the things that we dealt with.
We traveled a lot. I think at the height of our distribution,
we had divided the country into six sales territories, and I had
sales managers running each of those six territories. But I was
spending about 65 percent of my time on the road. I tried to make
it a practice to be in every market once a yearall of our top
markets, and certainly the top fiftyand work with as many of the
key wine sales people as I could. I felt it was important,
because it was not enough just to go in and hold a sales meeting
or go in and be involved behind the table at a wine tasting. It
was important to get out in the marketplace with the guy who was
taking the bullets and help him learn how to deflect those bullets
to his advantage. That, I felt, was very significant. So travel
was very much a key part of our marketing success. Certainly,
every one of our sales managers were out on the road a lot. We
didn't spend much time by the telephone waiting for people to call
us; we tried to go out and reach out to them.
[Looking at outline again] I think we've covered the
colleagues and friends, pretty much.
Sale of Clos du Bois. 1988
Woods: "Selling Clos du Bois to Hiram Walker." You've already talked to
Hicke: Well, just informally.
Woods: Oh, okay. Well, it's kind of hard to know where to begin, because
it was a very complicated process. Throughout the growth of Clos
du Bois, we discovered that it is a highly capital-intensive
business, even if you don't have a fancy winery with a lot of
bricks and mortar, which we didn't. It's even more capital
intensive for those who do. But we started making money at Clos
du Bois, I thinkin contrast to the famous quote of the guru in
Napa Valley who said that
Hicke: Andre Tchelistchef f ?
Woods: Tchelistchef f. He said that if you get into the winery business,
you can expect to make your first profit in the tenth year of
operation. We were much more fortunate in that we started making
an actual profit in the company after the third or fourth vintage
But, that didn't mean that we were putting money in the bank,
because, in fact, all of our profits, as well as more borrowing,
was going into building the inventory for the future. All these
vineyard designations, all these reserve items that we came up
with, and all those ideas for marketing strategies were extremely
costly, because they tied up money, whereas, if you're making
widgets, you produce the widgets today and you sell them tomorrow.
You try to run an on-time inventory system. You can't do that in
Hicke: There's no cash flow, is there?
Woods: So your capital requirements become extreme. We were reaching the
point wherecertainly myself, and I think Tom, to a certain
extentwe felt like for the sake of our families, we had invested
as much of our capitol in this enterprise as was wise. So we were
going to have to stop our growth at what looked like about 200,000
to 250,000 cases.
When you stop growth, it's a problem. We had been growing at
such a nice, healthy, handsome rate that all of our distributors
A lot of the excitement that we had built up was the fact that
that distributor had a chance to sell more wine, and it was
ongoing program. If we plateaued out, we might lose that dynamic
in the marketplace, and that could cause us to actually go into a
I'd seen it happen before with wineries. Spring Mountain:
they were very hot in their early years, and then along comes
Fountaincrest and all the publicity. But they did not have any
extra product, I guess, to sell at that time, and for whatever
reason, suddenly Spring Mountain was no longer the hot item on the
shelf that it was before. It just sort of went into a decline
until, later, Mike Robbins had to sort of bail out.
We didn't want that to happen. It was apparent that that
could very easily have happened to a number of wineries and was
happening in some other cases. So we were looking around. We
felt that probably the next step was to build a winery, so we
could jump from a 200,000 to 250,000 case level up to a half-
million or a million case level. To do that was going to require
capital in the amounts of twenty to thirty or forty million
dollars. That certainly was not money that we were prepared to
put into it, and it was money that was not available from
borrowing sources, because most of the borrowing services wanted
shorter-term funding; they wanted exit strategies where they could
see that they could lend you the money and then get it back in one
or three or five years, whereas we were looking for money for the
long haul- -which dictates that you're looking for equity money.
So, we were thinking about finding partners, finding other
major investors, and we went out to people like Morgan Grenfeld
and other investment banking firms on an international basis,
looking for funding. In that process, Hiram Walker, then owned by
Alliedsubsequently to become Allied-Domecq, headquartered in
Londoncame to us and were somewhat interested in the partnership
concept, but, in turn, laid down an offer for the entire
corporation that we had to take a look at and say, "If we were
honest with ourselves, this is not something that we necessarily
want to sell, but the money that they're offering us is so much,
that it is unlikely that we would be able to earn that much money
or put that much money into our estates in the next couple of
decades. And, just from the standpoint of the obligation to our
families, we ought to seriously consider this." It was a very
handsome offer that they came up with. They knew enough to offer
us a price that would tempt us into selling our entire operation.
How long did it take you to think this over and figure it out?
It was a long time. It didn't happen suddenly. Probably all
these negotiations involved at least a year's period of time.
So you eventually sold it in '88?
How did you feel about that?
Woods: Mixed emotions. I've often compared it, in a humorous way, to
selling one of your children. You feel like you've put enough
into the development and the growth of this child, but, at the
same time, you realize that for that child to grow into its full
personhood, that it needs the financial resources of someone
bigger and stronger than you are, and that if in fact Clos du Bois
was going to become a million case winery, as it is today, we
couldn't do it on our own resources. We had to get the resources
of the larger, deeper pockets involved there. And that was
significant reason for deciding to make the saleyou either stop
where you are and take the chance that decline will set in, or you
continue on the marvelous growth pattern that you've established,
but with somebody else's money.
Hicke: Do you have time to talk about the wine industry in general, and
some of the other Sonoma County wineries?
Woods: I'm not sure that I'm the right person to discuss that, because my
knowledge is somewhat limited. My own view is that Sonoma County
has unique qualities because of the climate and the soils, that it
will be able to make fine wine in a more diverse fashion than
almost any other area in California.
Hicke: Because of these different microclimates and soils?
Woods: You can make fine wines in other sections in California, but
they're limited to certain specific varieties and certain specific
characteristics, whereas Sonoma has a broader appeal. It also,
because of its cooler climate, has an opportunity to create more
in the sense of the higher acid level wines, more of the
characteristics that just can't be manufacturedit just has to be
grown in the vineyardthan other areas in the world or
specifically in California. So I feel that it has unique
qualities that are in many ways superior to other regions.
Having said that, and realizing that there are other regions
that are going to be superior to Sonoma with regard to specific
products, I feel that there is a wonderful opportunity for Sonoma
County in the world marketplace, because our wines have those
elements that you find in the better winegrowing, the classic
winegrowing regions: the coastal influence, the cooler climates,
the cool mornings, the cool evenings, the terrain, the diversity
of terrain, the diversity of soil types, some of the same kind of
under -layment, (the rocky under- layer) that you find in the
Bordeaux and Burgundy regions of the world, as well as the
riverside vineyards. All of those things are available in Sonoma
I believe that it will never have the kind of focus on wines
that places like Napa have, because it has such a diversified
Hicke: That's a very good insight.
Woods: You're always going to be lying in second position when it comes
to tour group type activities and to people saying that when they
think of California wines, what's the first thing they think of?
In the broadest sense, Napa may be that, but when they get more
into what wines they want to drink, what wines they want to buy,
Sonoma will be right up there.
I think that, from Sonoma 's standpoint, it has more room to
expand and grow than many of the other North Coastal areas, that
over the years, as techniques improve and different elements of
investment and preparation of sites makes certain areas that had
not been compatible now able to handle wineries, I think you'll
see a growing wine industry. Just like the Carneros area. The
Carneros area had very few grapes when we started, and look how it
is now; vineyards are all over the placeplaces that people
thought would never properly support fine wine. The Russian River
Valley is somewhat the same. I think that they've got a lot of
room to expand and an eventuality of producing more tonnage than
Woods: Also, I think a marvelous asset that Sonoma has is that there is a
built-in support mechanism; that may be available in other areas,
I don't know, because this is the one that I'm particularly
familiar with. But wineries in Sonoma County want other wineries
to succeed; they want to help them. There is a tremendous
cooperative effort that goes on within the Sonoma Wineries
Association to try and make things good for Sonoma overall. If
there is someone who needs help to improve the quality of their
product, people in Sonoma want to give that help so that it gives
a better impression of Sonoma overall. It's significant that most
people feel that if you get a bad Sonoma winery, that reputation
will taint all of us. So, wherever we can, we want to try and
increase the quality level and help anyone to improve the quality
of their grapes and the wine that they produce. I think that's
We had such success early on with a traveling tour of Sonoma
wineries, going around to the different marketplaces, doing
tastings. And long before other regions were doing it, we were
going out on two-week trips covering a dozen markets in the United
States every year, picking different markets each year. We went
into some of the markets that no one had ever been to for a
California wine tasting.
We started with the Public Broadcasting System during the wine
tastings, and Linda Johnson was very effective in organizing these
trips for the Sonoma Wineries Association. They did a lot for
establishing the name of Sonoma around the United States.
When I was president of the Sonoma Wineries Association in the
early 1980s, we had been two or three years into an annual wine
auction. However, I wanted to do something different to promote
Sonoma wines. I wanted to start up a winery academy. We did a
lot of research. We never really got it going. I think it's
getting closer now, thanks to Linda Johnson's efforts. But I
basically felt that there was room for Sonoma to establish itself
as an education vehicle for wine consumers, wine retailers, and
wine salesmen across the country. My concept was that we find a
place where we could actually have classroom activities, and the
faculty would be made up of winemakers and vineyard managers in
Sonoma County. We would invite people out for a one- or two-week
course, they would stay in the local hotels or motels, they would
attend classes, go out on field trips, and we would do this
throughout the year and create, gradually, a cadre of people
around the country who are very knowledgeable about Sonoma, about
what we represented, and that educational process would do as much
as any other form of advertising for the quality of our products.
Also, I felt that we had to be very careful in our activities.
We were always subject to the fact that we were more heterogeneous
and that Napa was more homogenous, and therefore there was the
problem that we were always going to be second in the impact,
because we were diverse whereas Napa was concentrated. I didn't
want us to be any more second place by following too closely in
their footsteps in things like the auction. The auction was
theirs and was building up every year to bigger and bigger
pinnacles in Napa, and I didn't think it was wise for us to try
and chase that. We weren't going to catch them, and, at the same
time, we were just going to be looked at as the Avis of the
California wine industry. [laughter]
Hicke: Trying harder.
Woods: Yes. And that wasn't where I thought we should be. So it was my
hope that we would take the auction and create a family atmosphere
and create a sort of warm--"Let's be happy we're in Sonoma, let's
create more fun for the people, the participants, and not worry so
much about the money that was brought in, try to do something with
the profits that we brought in from it, but not worry so much
about the bells and whistles that were there." So that is really
my cut on the auction aspect, and I think that over the years,
that's probably been the attitude that we've developed, and I
don't think that anyone now tries to chase Napa in terms of size
Hicke: What about your Wine Institute activities?
Woods: The biggest things that I think happened in my tenure within the
Wine Institute were during the years that I worked up the chairs
as an officer and then became chairman the year that we sold. I
think '88- '89 was my year. It was the year that President John
DeLuca was very ill, and so I really had to spend a great deal of
time there, sort of waving the flag for both John and myself.
But, at the same time, over the period of ten years or so that
I was active at the Wine Institute, I felt that the international
area was an area that I wanted to concentrate on more than any
other. I paid attention to the other areas, but I really did not
feel as effective in those areas as I did in working in the
In 1985, I took over as chairman of the International
Committee for the Wine Institute. We were receiving marketing
funds from the government on a matching basis. At that time, we
were exporting about twenty million dollars a year. And we had
perhaps twenty or thirty wineries that were exporting. In ten
years, exports had expanded ten-fold, to $200 million, and over
100 wineries were involved. We built that up to the point that we
were expending close to ten million dollars a year in
international programs, which were financed half and half by the
government and the wineries themselves, concentrating in certain
markets like Japan, Canada, England, the Benelux countries
[Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg], and the Scandinavian
countries. Ultimately we got into Switzerland, Germany, and into
France, Hong Kong, Singapore, some of the Southeastern Asian
Even after we had sold Clos du Bois, I continued to operate
with the international group at the Wine Institute, and ultimately
I was the delegate for the various international wine trade
groups, for discussions on NAFTA, the dealings with GATT in
Geneva. Later I was part of the delegation to the OIV (the
Organization for International Viticulturalists) . The BATF
represents the U.S. and industry members serve as consultants.
Our country has one vote amidst the seventy-odd countries that are
members. We have an international meeting every year. We went to
one in Yalta--! think it was about 1989--and then we were able to
bring that OIV conference to San Francisco in 1992. I was
chairman of the event and chairman of the week- long program that
we put on for over 400 international delegates.
At that time, Ernest Gallo made the keynote speech, in which
he said that we needed to develop internationally what we were
doing domestically, which was research into the healthy, positive,
social aspects of wine. With that, we created a fund. We set it
up as part of the OIV, we financed bringing in experts, and we
hired a wonderful person in medical research to come in and create
an international body on the health and social aspects of wine.
I've continuedthis is part of my last year as chairman on
that groupbut throughout all of that period of time since 1985,
we've seen California wine go from almost a nonentity in the
international field to where today it is clearly accepted in
almost every international venue as a quality wine product. But
we don't have total distribution, and there are still some
countries who compete with us for the title of best or biggest or
whatever, but we still are now an established player. Today our
exports have gone from the $20 million figure, with ten or twenty
wineries, up to well over 200 wineries exporting something in the
neighborhood of $500 million.
That's really impressive.
It's a positive aspect, because-- It's interesting that when
American consumers go abroad and see California wine,
much more interested in it when they get home.
Hicke: [laughs] I'm sure that's true.
Hicke: Well, can you take a few minutes and tell me what you're doing
Woods: Well, you know, I'm continuing-- We still have several hundred
acres of wine grapes up in Sonoma County.
Hicke: Are you flooded up there?
Woods: I don't think so. I haven't been up in two weeks so I can't say,
but nobody is calling with flood reports. We're always going to
get water, but this time of year we're not worried about it. It's
erosion we worry about. The vines can handle it as long as they
dry out before they start to bud.
But, yes, I still have the wine grapes; I'm still involved in
that area. As I said, I'm phasing out my international wine
activities. I consider myself to have been a sort of a statesman
in wine in the international area, since I've sold the winery.
I'm in the process now of spending much more time working on the
careers of my children and assisting them in developing their
entities, business and careerwise.
Hicke: What are they doing?
Woods: I have one that's graduating from the University of Virginia and
going into landscape architecture. She will be establishing a
reputation and hopefully a career in that field.
Hicke: What is her name?
Woods: Alexis Woods. Then I have a son who is building a hardwood veneer
plant in Alabama to produce products for furniture and hardwood
flooring. He started this about eighteen months ago, and I'm
spending a lot of time with him until he gets his plant operating
Hicke: His name?
Woods: His name is Montgomery Woods. Then the eldest, Dorine Woods, her
career is now as a mother and wife to her husband, who is a lawyer
here in town. Her name is Dorine Towle, and she is the mother of
my only grandchild, Spencer, who is eighteen months old on
February 17th and fortunately is close enough I can see him every
Hicke: That's really nice. Did you say she has a career also?
Woods: She's a mother.
Hicke: She's a mother. Well, that is a career, definitely.
Woods: It is. It's a full-time career, I've found. She does a very good
job of it.
Hicke: Well, we've covered a lot of territory, and it's really been very
informative, very interesting.
Woods: Well, good. I was delighted, and I'm sorry it's taken us so long,
Hicke: Oh, that's not-- I'm not sorry about that, from my point of view.
Woods: Any time you want to ask more questions or go into further detail,
give me a call.
Hicke: Thanks, Frank.
Woods: Thank you.
Transcribed by Caroline Sears
Final Typed by Shannon Page
TAPE GUIDE--Frank M. Woods
Interview 1: January 5, 1998
Tape 1, Side A
Tape 1, Side B
Tape 2, Side A
Tape 2, Side B
Interview 2: January 7, 1998
Tape 5, Side B not recorded
Interview 3: February 13, 1998
Tape 6, Side A
Tape 6, Side B
Tape 7, Side A
Tape 7, Side B
A "California's Best Kept Secret," The Wine Spectator.
June 1-15, 1986 108
B The International Wine and Spirit Competition
Gold Award, 1981
Ctofdonnay . . 19
New Releases. 31
FOR PEOPLE SERIOUS ABOUT WINE
Peter Mondavi . 1 S
Vs. Regulars . .21
Wine Month? . 18
Nothing Sells Like Success
Clwdu Bo* President
frank Woods Sees What
Wine Consumers Want,
And Gives It to Them
ty Jm Cordon
What do the Pine Mountain
fireplace log, the Shell No-
Pest Strip and a red wine
calkd Marlsione have in common? Their
creator Frank Woods, president of
Clos du Bois winery.
Woods didn't invent the pesticide in
the No-Pest Strip, patent the wai-and-
wood-chip recipe for Pine Mountain logs
er personally plant the Cabernet Sauvi
gnon and Merloi vines in the Marlstone
rineyard. but he brought each of these
items into the world nevertheless.
He did it by seizing on fresh ideas,
forming them into attractive products and
lien selling them lo every drug store,
supermarket or restaurant that would
huea so his pitch What Woods does beal
a> get his product! so market.
That pan of his (excess with one of
California's most consilient and steadi
ly flowing wineries is fairly easy 10
endcrsund He usei intelligence, plin-
aing end lots of persona) contact so get
people to try his wran
"He would show up in Tweedle
Indies, lows, to pour his wines for eight
people from the PTA in a lasting," aayi
loamy Strong, a winemaking neighbor
hi Soaoma County who has watched Clot
4u Bon grow frosn a vineyard company
that made its first 7,000 cases in 1974 to
a winery that produced about 200,000
cases from the 1983 harvest.
Clos du Bois was a wine without a
winery for several years. When a winery
was built here it was a no-frills affair.
That left more money for promoting the
Marketing may account for why
you're starting to see Clos du Bois on
shelves and wine lists across the country,
but it doesn't explain why Clos du Bois is
thowered with ribbons and weighed
down with medals after each year's ma
jor wine competitions. The 1984 Barrel
Fermented Chardonnay alone won three
gold medals and four other awards list
year ia nine of the top judgings. Con-
turners liked it. 100, makjng it Clos du
Bois' biggest seller.
Mer does marketing expeniae ex-
alaia wky seven out of eight Clos du Bois
At a glance
HlMMjurs. SorDrm County, Can
Owner: River Oefca Agrecxp
PretWent: Frank Wooot
Wlrwmaker: John Htwley
VInryerd (In: 700 acres
Varujtale planted: Catxrnet
Sauvignon. Cha'Oonnay. Pinot
No*. Merlot. Sauvignon Blanc
Wlmi produced: Seven vintage
va/<a* ($6 50-S8 50). six vine-
yard-designated wines ($1 1 .50-$16)
tetarves m besi years ($18421)
19H production: 200000 cases
Bad known lor: Barrel-fermented
~ha/oonnay. single-vineyard wines,
^aicaire Chardonnay. Mansione
Second label: River Oaks
Jistrlbutlon: National. United
Jodo.i have haJtad Frank Woode' wtnaa lor veare, and new thalr reputation la apraadlng among eonatinwra
wines reviewed blind by 7k* Wat Spec
tator over the past seven months rated
"Very Good" or "Outsunding" on our
lOO-poim scale. The 1981 Marlstone
Vineyard Alexander Valley Rad (SI5)
rated 96. the 1913 Calcaire Vineyard
Alexander Valley Chardonnay ($16)
rated 94 and the regular 1911 Alexander
Valley Cabernet ($9) got a 9 1 . as did the
1983 Early Harvest Alexander Valley
Woods and his crew create winners
with both white and red varieties, early-
dnnkmg wines ind collectibles. Gcwun-
trammer. Pinot Noir. Chardonnay. Cab
ernet, Riesling. Sauvignon Blanc and
Merloi The disappointing bottles an few
and far between
The products he developed in earlier
yean with Procter & Gamble and later
with his own company merely had lo
smell nice, burn brightly or kill bugs
dead. Premium wines have stricter
demands on them. They must be con
sistently tasty and worth the premium
prices people pay for them
"Thai's what built our franchise."
says Woods. 33. He grew up in Alabama
and attended Cornell University's school
of hotel administration, an unusual but
handy background for a man who now
sells wine to hotels
"Our reputation is that Cloi du Bois
produces a very good-value wine We're
not cheap, but everyone realises they gei
full value on our wines." he says
The consistency and quality come
from the vineyardi. WooOs says Closdu
Bois owns about 1.000 acres in Dry
Creek Valley and Alexander Valley,
making it probably one of the five big
gest vineyard companies in Sonoma
County, a group that include* Rodne>
Strong and Geyser Peak. Seven hundred
acres yield grapes.
Woods and his backers bought most
of the property before 1 974 , when it was
cheap by today's standards They paid in
average of about SI. 800 an acre for land
that would now sell for S10.000 to
S 1 3 ,000 if it were available Very hole it
Six of the individual vineyards lend
their names to the wines made frorr.
them Calcaire and Flimwood produce
Chardonnay. Bnarcrest and Woodleaf
make Cabernet Sauvignon ind Chern
Hill makes Pmni Nuir The Marltionr
vineyard produces a red Bordeaua-siylr
blend that started nut as Cabernet and
Merloi. gained Cabernet Franc with itu-
1981 vintage unj Milbei in the mx-yei
The vineyards make a good markei-
Cominued on Pit' '-
om Foft 9
H tak. Bdustry observers say. "Marl-
tuec" and "Calcaire" have a solid.
clauv ring to them. Woods nous-wiih
satisfaction that on at least one wine list
Marluone is listed simply as Marlstone.
with to mention of Clos du Bois
Owning the vineyards means that
Cka du Bois can offer the same wines
from year lo year II also means that any
reputation the vineyards earn will stay
with Clos du Bois. unlike vineyard names
such u Winery Lake thai have appeared
on many producers' labels.
Woods' alter ego in Clos du Bois is
Tn Heed. 12. a college classmate, the
iarvsttbk chief financial officer and chair-
nan of ike board The pair say they
always planned to evolve from a vineyard
y mto a winery and the meager
for grapes in 1974 provided the
"Since the Tint commercial vintage
r974, all the grapes have come from
MT OMC vineyards. Wood* says. " c -
we developed a very intimiie knowledge
of the land and the kind of product thai
could be produced from it We're con
trolling the product from the ground to
"One thing that led us to the vine
yard sites was our basic marketing
strategy, which uid that we wanted to be
basically a Chardonnay and Bordeaux-
type winery We wanted to make wines
that were desirable to restaurants and
hotels elegant, soft wines with aging
"The keynote is consistency." says
one of Clos du Boi restaurant custo
mers. Daniel Carusone. beverage direc
tor at Orangene Restaurant in the
Arizona Biltmore in Phoenu "Good
restaurants are interested in maintaining
older vintages and vertical selections
The fact that there is aging potential in
Clos du Bois wines allow us that oppor
tunity while at the same time we can pour
the younger wines for our customers
Clos du Bois' formula is paying off
Woods envisions a minimum annual
growth rate of 20 perceni to 25 percent
for the next five years, with production
reaching 300.000 to 400.000 cases within
The first wines were made at Sou-
verain Cellars until the winery was buili
in 1982 It's a 20,000-square-foot metal-
skinned warehouse along the railroad
tracks in this small city. Another, slight
ly larger building just across the tracks
is used for wine storage A more stately
Frank Wood*: 'W want.O ttogant.
eft wm.a with aging potential'
looking winery is planned for Clos du
Bois' property in Alexander Valley
Visitor! expecting grand architecture
may be disappointed when they visit the
winery. The tasting room, currently be
ing remodeled, is in the front: big stain
less steel tanks, hundreds of oak barrels
and the bottling line are in the back
"I think he did a brilliant thing."
Strong says of Woods "He didn't tie up
a lot of money in bricks and monar and
stainlets steel He had other wineries
make it for him at first, which freed up
money for marketing "
The winery itself may not be i
showplace. but Woods' 100-year-old
country house just outside of town is aa
elegant place to entertain important win
ery visitors It overlooks the Woodleat
Cabernet Vineyard from the west edge
of the Dry Creek Valley Woods and his
wife. Kay. live in San Francisco, but
spend time here when possible Their
children are 16. 18 and 30
Woods says the farm!) ai a mijui
motivation for leaving the product
development business and getting into
wine. "I came to realize that the moit
successful you were working for another
company, you worked >uur way out o:
a product After a number of year* i
decided one thing that *j* KC> for
chiljrer. > fuiuie io Jockippiodu, -
of our own "
A, president nd chief Mle>nui<
Woods is the fruni man lor g group ui
several doien stockholders, i..,.- ,
friends and relatives of Reed and himself,
who own the vineyards, the winery <nj
two wine labels. Clos du Bon and River
THE WINE SPECTATOR
t Sptaalor. Junt I-IS l9Ht
trn, F,j n
Wood! at hit country norm ovtrtooklng Clot du Bolt' Wooann Vlrwyard, whr Cabernet Stuvlgnon It planttd
Tht lUMirltn wintry In Httldtburg: A ntw ont I* tnvltlontd In Aitxand*' vm.y
A proprietary llctntt pint tnd libel
County offers such t wide range of soils
and microclimates This view helps make
him i respected spokesman for all the
county's growers and wine producers
"In Europe you'd have lo go from
Bordeaux 10 the Rhemgau to gel the same
range," he says "But you cm find cer
tain areas in Sonoma County thai produce
a very enjoyable Pmot Noir and move
away a half mile or two miles and find
some warm soils where Cabernet and
Sauvignon Blanc will prosper. As long
as these areas produce wine in the upper
range of quality, then we will continue
to grow those varietals."
It's difficult to find fault with
Woods' theory because Clos du Bois con
sistently delivers the goods delicious
wines that judges decorate and consumers
The winery's success has a lot to do
with sound planning and foresight aided
by fortuitous timing and probably a mea
sure of simple luck But a search for how
Woods' has succeeded with Clos du Bois
leads back to his determining what peo
ple want and then giving it to them
It also leads back to the value of
sweat. "Frank works like a dog." says
Graf "He is always out working on pro
motion. It's just a big. big. big pan of
/i/n Rosenihal. a free-lance writer,
contributed lo Mi rtpon
Oaki. Hirer Oiks is the name of the com
pany's Alexander Valley properly and
also the new line of lower-priced wines
made from both purchased tnd estaie-
Reed ii a mover and t shaker in his
own rigkt. He served as secretary of the
Air Force under President Gerald Ford
tod is currently president of Quaker Hill,
a corpomjon that does land development
and commercial farming.
Reed and Woods developed the
Breckenridge ski retort in Colorado
before launching Clot du Bon They ac
quired land for the retort, planned com-
mercitJ buildings and condominiums and
found a company to prepare the tlopei
arid put in the chair lifts
It WBI tn unututl prelude to wine*
rakiiu, but the pair't butineu Itvvy
shows a Clot du Sou "Clot du Bois it
not t kobtay; it s I business. " uyi Reed.
"If you're going to run t successful
business you have, 10 have a good busi-
m ftm B follow'so that you know what
tvo nriary to get to where you want to
TIM hasn't always been easy, tnd
Clot tta Bois his made some adjustments
along fee way. Alexander Valley proved
Ice warm for the Pinot Noir vinei planteo
fliere, to the) were removed. Merloi has
aupplmod some of the original Johan-
nisberg Riesling acreage Chenin Blanc
and Zurfandel have been abandoned
The gotl has been to grew the grapes
AM bev wit the land and microclimates,
tnd to make wines that consumers like.
Mary Ann Graf, t consulting enologist
here ind former winemaker at Simi.
credits Woods' palate for some of Clos
du Bois' success She has participated in
tastings at the winery.
"1 think he ustes wine not for what
he likes personally but for what the con
sumer wants, for what their marketing
approach is aimed at." the uys
Wine judget like Clot du Bois, loo.
The ribbons they twird don't translate
directly into increased sales except in the
locale of the judging. Woods says, but
they offer encouragement to his sakt
force and to duinbtitori and retailen.
They alto keep Clot du Bon' name in
print without having lo pay for adver
Clot du Boa' tucceu may be lOjper-
cenl due to brilliant marketing, at Graf
suggetu. but it wouldn't be broad or
Luting success if the wiaet weren't con-
titlenly exceptional in quality . Vineyard
manager Hughet Ryaa ind winemaker
John Hawley are the men who make lure
the vine! are healthy and the winet clean.
The combination of vineyard tech
niques and winemaking expertise hat
given Clot du Bois one of the broadest
ranges of outstanding wines in Califor
nia. Clot du Boil hat at many at I) dif
ferent labels on the market it one lime,
not counting the River Oaks line.
In the past 13 yean few new win
eries have tried to tackle to many winet.
That was the territory of the big, estab
lished guys like Sebauiani, Louis Mar
tini, Ingle nook and Wente. Moil new
comers, like Jordan, whose vineyards
border Clos du Bois' in Alexander
Valley, specialized in a few premium-
Woods says there is no reason not
to make a variety of wines when Sonoma
Wln<mak*r John Hawlty: continently exceptional winit
The International Wine & Spirit Competition
Producer: CLOS DU BOIS WINES
Entered by: CLOS DU BOIS WINES
THIS IS TO CERTIFY that the above Award was
made after analysis and blind tasting in full International
Competition and in accordance with the IWSC Index
INDEX- -Frank M. Woods
Aguilera, Laura, 75
Alexander Valley, 34-35
Ashcraft, Nite, 24
Aspen Ski Corp., 25
Aubry family, 56
Dymo label tapes, 15
Eyre, Ned, 15
Fernandez, Barney, 38
Barzaghi, Jacques, 22
Beaulieu Vineyards, 41
Benedict, Fritz, 25
Berry, Skye, 81, 87
Bonetti, William, 88-90
bottling and storage, 53-55
Boyce, Edward, 75
Bradley, Dick, 73
brand marketing, 6-9, 13-14
Brassat, Paul, 55
Breckenridge Ski Resort, 18-20,
Bristol-Myers-Squibb Corp., 8
Broadbent, Michael, 64
Brown, Edmund G. Jr. [Jerry], 21-
California State Personnel Board,
1970-80, 20-24, 74-75
Camilli, Rich, 24
Campbell, Jerry, 56
Clorox company, 14
Clos du Bois winery, 30-100
Compudata company, 87
Cornell University Hotel School,
3-5, 30, 73
Crocker, Cinda Campbell, 31-32
Crocker, Charles, 31-32
Dry Creek Valley, 32-33, 35, 37,
Duckhorn, Daniel, 32
Gallo, Ernest, 104
Gallo winery, 51
Gelb, Bruce, 8-9
General Foods Corp., 8
Gianelli, William, 74
Graf, Mary Ann, 88
Hallisey, Marilyn, 75
Harding, Margaret, 95
Harvey, Henry, 75
Hawley, John, 63-64, 78-80, 88,
Helms, Jesse, 19-20
Herwich, Rudy, 15
Hill, Robert, 75
Hobart, Tom, 38-39, 53-55, 63-64,
73, 78, 88, 90
Hunter, Norm, 15
Johnson, Linda, 102
Johnson, Barry, 57
Jones, Bryce, 89
Killey, Jean Claude, 27
Korean War period, 9-12
Kurtz, Ron, 75
label design, 45-46, 50, 59, 84-
Lamb, Richard, 26
Lament, Patricia, 45
Leighton, Dave, 75
Lighter, Jim, 32, 36
Malone, Dennis, 36, 90
marketing, 41-42, 46-53, 57-72,
Marketing Continental company,
Martinez, Robert, 75
Maxwell House Hotel, Nashville,
McElroy, Neil, 7
McGahey, William, 75
Mondavi, Robert, 41
Morford, Dwayne, 75
Morgens, Howard, 7-8
Scadzolla [French winemaker] , 42-
Shakel family, 16
Shell Chemical Company, 17-18
Shippey, Tim, 58, 95
Shockley, Brenda, 75
Sonoma County winegrowing, 100-
Sonoma Vineyards, 39
Sonoma Wineries Association, 101-
Spring Mountain winery, 98-99
Standard Oil Company of
Starr, Kevin, 22
Sterling Vineyards, 61
Strong, Rodney, 39-40, 46, 52-53
Napa Valley, 41-42
Organization for International
Viticulturalists [OIV] , 104
Payne, Hal, 6
Pine Mountain Log company, 15-17
political campaigns of 1966 and
Price, Deborah, 58, 95
private label wines, 46-49
Procter & Gamble Corp., 4, 6-9,
Public Employees Retirement
Reagan, Ronald, 19-20
Reed, Thomas, 18-19, 25, 27, 36
Renick, Lud, 47-48
River Oaks Vineyards Corp., 34,
37, 39, 50, 69
Rohan, Mike, 32, 36, 90
Round Hill Cellars, 47-48
Rowett, Lillian, 75
Ryan, Highes, 90
tasting room, 55, 57-58, 61-62
Tchelistcheff , Andre, 98
The Chronical restaurant, 47-48
Tirapelle, Dave, 75
Tovar, Irene, 75
Towle, Dorine Woods, 105
Trader Joe's stores, 48-49
United Airlines, 25-26
Van Asperen, Ernie and Virginia,
Vaughn, Walter, 75
vineyard management, 90-92
Vintner's Club, 64
Wald, Robert, 75
Wallace family, 32
Walter, Charles, 75
Walter, James, 75
Whetstone, Lynn, 75
Wine Institute, 69, 102-104
Woods, Alexis, 105
Woods, Montgomery, 105
Woods, Joseph Ross, 56-57
Woods, Kay, 42-43
Vitus labrusca, 30
Cabernet Sauvignon, 46, 48, 49,
51-53, 59, 82
Chardonnay, 46-48, 51, 76, 78,
Chenin Blanc, 76
Gewurztraminer, 51, 54, 76-78
Her lot, 51, 59-61, 82-85
Pinot Noir, 46, 48, 51, 53, 73,
Riesling, 51, 54, 76-77
Sauvignon Blanc, 51, 76, 78
Zinfandel, 51, 76, 82
Carole E. Hicke
B.A. , University of Iowa; economics
M.A. , San Francisco State University; U.S. history with emphasis on the
American West; thesis: "James Rolph, Mayor of San Francisco."
Interviewer/editor/writer, 1978 -present , for business and law firm
histories, specializing in oral history techniques. Independently
Interviewer-editor, Regional Oral History Office, University of California,
Berkeley, 1985 to present, specializing in California legal, political, and
Editor (1980-1985) newsletters of two professional historical associations:
Western Association of Women Historians and Coordinating Committee for
Women in the Historical Profession.
Visiting lecturer, San Francisco State University in U.S. history, history
of California, history of Hawaii, legal oral history.