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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 

An Interview Conducted by 

Carole Hicke 

in 1998 

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, 
and irreplaceable. 


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, 
Berkeley, 1998. 

Copy no. 

Frank Woods, 1980. 

Cataloguing information 

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. 





Growing up in a Hotel 

Cornell University Hotel School: 1950-1954 3 

Joining the Company 6 
Brand Marketing 5 
Military Service, U.S. Army 9 
Back to Procter & Gamble, 1956 12 

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 

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 

Expansion 55 

The Tasting Room--A Successful Marketing Tool 57 

Merlot 59 

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 

Chardonnay 79 

Cooperage 80 

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 

Family 104 



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 

INDEX 113 


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 
Scholarship Foundation. 

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 

Carole Hicke 
Project Director 

The Wine Spectator California Wine 
Oral History Series 

July 1998 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California, Berkeley 


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 
Industry, 1971 

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- 
1990s, 1994 

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, 
1896-1996, 1996 

Alfred Fromm, Marketing California Wine and Brandy, 1984 

Louis Gomberg, Analytical Perspectives on the California Wine Industry, 1935- 
1990, 1990 

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- 
1990s, 1998 

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 
Winery, 1990 

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, 
1946-1988, 1990 

Robert Mondavi, Creativity in the Wine Industry, 1985 

Michael Moone, Management and Marketing at Beringer Vineyards and Wine World, 
Inc., 1990 

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, 
1950-1990, 1990 

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 
Industry, 1977 

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 



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 
California wines. 

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 
Resort . 

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. 

Carole Hicke 
Project Director 

August 28, 1998 

Regional Oral History Office 

Berkeley, California 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720 

(Please write clearly. Use black ink.) 

Your full name F R * iJ K f*\ O AJ T 6- O rt <T ^f WQQQ J 

Date of birth C/^QTT* v0Qt t TCA/AJ Birthplace ^ * * C 

Father's full name F R * ** K- ^ Q */ T C. > ^"> <TV- y VJ & O fxj JV? . 

Occupation yoTE L. o f c<L * T fj. Birthplace ^^ **" -T R e^. <i~ t 
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Occupation H Q u * w//rg~ Birthplace Jg"^ ^<IXJ-<>o C 

Your spouse K A T /^ ft- Y ** /^^CLaic-AK) Vv/QQ O J* 

Your children Do /? / ^ ftQJJ 7-0^^- <g ^ R^>t AOxTCa^stiy UJOQ,J ftr 
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Areas of expertise 

Other interests or activities T * K v <Z t- I *> TC<1 ^ * r o 

Organizations in which you are active 

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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 
suburban area. 

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 
enjoyed your 

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 
courses . 

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 
hotel administration. 

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. 


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. 

Brand Marketing 

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 
marketing. " 

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 
Morgens . 

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 
management . 

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? 
Woods: Yes. 

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 & 
Gamble . 

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 
sales training. 

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." 



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. 

Marketing Continental 

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 
Western states. 

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 
development . 

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 
unofficial guru. 

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 
Jesuit didactics." 

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 
rules installed. 

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 



Woods : 


Woods ; 

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] 


Woods : 


Woods : 

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. 



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? 

Woods: Sure. 

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 
style was. 

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 

dollar level. 

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 
winery operation. 

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 
vineyards ultimately. 

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 
hundred acres. 

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 

Vineyard Managers 

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 
Alexander Valley. 

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? 
Woods: Yes. 

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 
pinball machines." 

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 
mountains . 

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 
buy vineyards. 

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 
the business. 

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. 

Hicke: Hops. 

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 


Woods : 

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 
Gallois man. 

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- 
the-counter product. 

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. 

Hicke : 

Woods : 


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 
possible labels. 

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 


Woods : 

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 
Ernie's label. 

Hicke: This is the restaurant Ernie's? 

Woods: No. 

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 


Windsor, California 

B W 4520 
Alcohol 12% by Volume 




Bottled by 


Geyjerville, California 
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 
product. " 

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 





Produced & Bottled Expressly tor 

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 
Oaks label. 

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. 


Woods : 




Woods : 
Hicke : 

Woods : 

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. 

Oak barrels. 

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 



Cabernet Sauvignon 

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 








Vineyard Locations: Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys, Sonoma County 




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 
Oak barrels 

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 
ing details 

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 







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? 
Woods: Yes. 


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 
another hat. 

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 
room. " 

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 
hospitable . 

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. 





Woods : 

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 
blue label. 

Hicke: That's amazing. 

Woods: That, I think, was one of the things that caused us to take off so 
fast with Merlot. 


Woods : 

We began with a couple of thousand cases in '78. 
of '85, we were up to 60,000 cases of Merlot. 

By the vintage 

Woods : 

Hicke ; 
Woods ; 

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 
to 60,000. 

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. 



[tape interruption] 

We had just left off with the Merlot story. 

Description of Tasting Room 

Woods : 


Woods : 

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 
tin shed. 

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 . " 


Hicke : 
Woods : 

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 
the winner. 

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 
that wine." 

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: Yes. 
Hicke: Good. 

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? 

Woods: No. 

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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Vineyards in 
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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 
the seventies. 

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 





54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot 





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 
the marlstone 

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 

46% Merlot 

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 
from now. 

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 
and stuff-- 

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 
School graduates. 

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 
product . 

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. 
Hicke: Yes. 

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 
Personnel Board. 

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 
associate there. 

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 
floor was. 

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 
acids . 

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. 



the ideas? 

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 
designation series. 

Hicke: Alexandria is a vineyard? 

Woods: Alexandria was just the name that we gave to one of our Gewiirz 
vineyards . 

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 
the regular. 



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. 

Hicke: Special. 

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 
distributors . 

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. 


Red Wines 

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 
Cabernet Sauvignon. 

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 
Sauvignon straight. 

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 
money . 

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, 
grayish-silver combination. 

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 
the color. 


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, 

Profit Margins 

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 
Marlstone vineyard. 

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 
very sophisticated. 

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. 

William Bonetti 

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 
these wines." 

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. 

Vineyard Management 

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 
to do. 

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 
that serious. 

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 
of consistency. 

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- 
sale level. 

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 
to sell. 

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 


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 
we created. 

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. 

Hicke: Yes. 

Sale of Clos du Bois. 1988 

Woods: "Selling Clos du Bois to Hiram Walker." You've already talked to 
Tom Reed? 


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 
fine wines. 

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 


Woods : 


Woods : 

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. 

Professional Activities 

Sonoma County 

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 
agricultural spectrum. 

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 
or reputation. 

Wine Institute 

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 
tigers, Korea. 

Woods : 


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. 

they become 

Hicke: [laughs] I'm sure that's true. 


Hicke: Well, can you take a few minutes and tell me what you're doing 
right now? 


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 3 
Tape 3 
Tape A 
Tape 4 
Tape 5 

Side A 
Side B 
Side A 
Side B 
Side A 

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 




Complete, Delicious 
Ctofdonnay . . 19 

Focus: Chardoimay 
New Releases. 31 




Peter Mondavi . 1 S 

Tasting Reserves 
Vs. Regulars . .21 

Why Not 

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 

f. Calif. 

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 
Founded: 1976 
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 
Hieasng, Gewurztraminer 
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 
Carjernei-Merio! blend 
Second label: River Oaks 
Jistrlbutlon: National. United 
Kingoom. Canada 

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 
Gewurztraminer (S7.30) 

Creating Wlnnara 

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 
released 1983 

The vineyards make a good markei- 
Cominued on Pit' '- 


Prank Woods 

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. 

Alter Ige 

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 
the bottle. 

"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 
potential " 

"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 
10 years 

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 " 

Eitgtnt Entertaining 

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 



t Sptaalor. Junt I-IS l9Ht 


Alexander Vall 
S ^ 

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 
it " 

/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- 
grown grapes. 

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 
be soawxrow. 

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 

Encouraging Awtrdt 

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- 
quality wines. 

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 






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 
Allied-Domecq, 99 
Ashcraft, Nite, 24 
Aspen Ski Corp., 25 
Aubry family, 56 
auctions, 102-103 

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 

cooperage, 80-81 

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, 

85-88, 92-97 
Marketing Continental company, 


Martinez, Robert, 75 
Maxwell House Hotel, Nashville, 

Tennessee, 2 
McElroy, Neil, 7 
McGahey, William, 75 
Mondavi, Robert, 41 
Morford, Dwayne, 75 
Morgens, Howard, 7-8 

Scadzolla [French winemaker] , 42- 

43, 64 

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 

California, 16-17 
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 

1970, 19-20 
Price, Deborah, 58, 95 
private label wines, 46-49 
Procter & Gamble Corp., 4, 6-9, 

Public Employees Retirement 

System, 23-24 

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 
rootstocks, 91 
Round Hill Cellars, 47-48 
Rowett, Lillian, 75 
Ryan, Highes, 90 

tasting room, 55, 57-58, 61-62 

Tchelistcheff , Andre, 98 

terroir, 35-36 

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 
business histories. 

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.