About the O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery
Many of our estate vines now exhibit fourteen years of age. They have established deep roots on our 100 acre hillside property. Between 1997 and 2002, we planted 29 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon. We also cultivate 6 acres of blending varietal: Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec, Carmenere and St. Macaire. In pursuit of maximizing our options for flavor, we utilized several different root stocks and clones for our Cabernet plantings. The vines span two distinct vineyards which we have the privilege of farming. Amphitheater derives its name from its shape across the hillside. Rancho del Oso, nearest the winery, boasts a resident black bear who visits from time to time. He has no part in either viticulture or winemaking.
The vines from our steeply terraced, “Betty’s Vineyard”, struggle for nourishment and moisture consistently producing clusters with small berries and intense flavors. Wines from this vineyard have been highly acclaimed through the media since our first vintage in 2002 for their power and elegance. Aromatically, we love the lavender and violet tones emanating from this property.
Our Oakville vineyard spans 30 acres surrounding our home. Planted at various times, we grow white varietals for O’Shaughnessy. The Sauvignon Blanc fruit creates our crisp, flavorful wine. The Chardonnay plantings of Old Wente Clones, as well as 809 and 548 provide the backbone of our complex, dramatic blend which debuted with our 2009 vintage.
Betty O’Shaughnessy Woolls and Paul Woolls - Proprietors
Betty hails from Minnesota, having spent her childhood growing up in a rural farming community. After college she raised a family while building a career in real estate investment/development in Minneapolis. Her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for food and wine fueled the fires that transitioned her from owner/teacher of a cooking school in Minneapolis, to creating a winery in Napa Valley.
In Napa, Betty fell in love with the beauty of the land, the vineyards, and the climate. In 1990 she landed in Oakville with a parcel of land, including vineyards and a home site. Betty reconnected with her deep rooted appreciation of the soil and the bounties it brings. Over the next few years, additional vineyards on Howell Mountain and Mount Veeder added to the source available for varieties of grapes. The new century brought a cave, grapes crushed into wine and a design for a winery structure. The project completed in time for the harvest of 2003.
In addition to the winery, Betty remains an active volunteer and philanthropist in the community. In 2002, Betty took on the role as Chair of the Board of Directors for Napa Community Bank, where she still serves as a director. In 2009, her community involvement expanded to include an exciting new role as Trustee for Napa's Queen of the Valley Medical Center.
Paul, too, began life in the Midwest. Born almost on the campus of Indiana University, Paul later moved to New Mexico. He now sheepishly admits there developing the beginnings of a passion for wine ‐ albeit on brands that today no serious vigneron would admit consuming. From those beginnings, Paul found in college that starving for a month would allow for one great meal at the only French restaurant nearby. Then law school and his practice allowed the drive to learn about wine to thrive. That drive culminated in a fortuitous wine tasting where he met Betty.
Together, they now share a challenging goal of making the best possible wine from the exceptional vineyards they steward. Likewise they are most fortunate to enjoy family life provided by numerous children (all girls) and even more grandchildren (mostly boys). Betty and Paul continue life’s joyous ride as companions, partners, and winemaking buddies in the O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery.
Sean Capiaux - President and Winemaker
Founding winemaker, Sean Capiaux, has established an impressive and notable career over the past twenty six years at prominent wineries around the globe. He graduated from California State University, Fresno (BS, Enology; minor in Chemistry) in the late-80’s and began his career at Jordan Winery in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. Sean traveled to Perth, Australia to work on the winemaking team at the Houghton Winery and later returned to the United States to become the assistant winemaker at Pine Ridge Winery in the Stags Leap district. Peter Michael Winery tapped him to become their assistant winemaker where he worked for four years. Sean spent several years as a bicoastal winemaker attending to wines both on Long Island and in California before coming to O’Shaughnessy.
Sean serves as president and winemaker for the O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery and consistently creates world class mountain Cabernets. Sean describes his winemaking style as neo-classic in that he employs modern equipment to produce non-interventious wines which are naturally fermented and bottled unfined and unfiltered. These techniques allow the varietal character and terroir of the O’Shaughnessy Estate vineyards to be the stars of the show.
Aaron Elam (right) grew up amongst the redwoods and near the coastline in the small California town of Fortuna in the Eel River Valley. Youth football and baseball set the stage for the athletics he performs as out Associate Winemaker in the cellar at O’Shaughnessy. Aaron graduated from California Polytechnic University in San Louis Obispo in 2004 (BS, Fruit Science; minor in Wine and Viticulture) and worked both abroad (New Zealand) and locally (Fantesca Estate) as a Vineyard Assistant and Cellar Master. Aaron counts his lovely wife Jen and his throng of snowboards amongst his most prized possessions.
Orlando Preciado (center) was born and raised in the town of St. Helena (Go Saints!) near the base of Howell Mountain and brings with him the strong work ethic of the beloved Preciado family. His sister Blanca is a member of our hospitality team and both are first generation Napa Valley residents. Orlando graduated from California State University in Fresno in 2008 (B.S. Enology; minor in Chemistry) and has worked abroad (South Africa and Spain) and also locally for Grace Family Vineyards in St. Helena. Orlando is our Assistant Winemaker as well as resident nutritionist and fitness instructor having spent many years studying both subjects in his spare time.
Jonathan Walden (left), is the now infamous local boy who braved the O’Shaughnessy Intern Program in both 2012 and 2013. Jon brings with him A.S. Degrees in both Winemaking and Wine Marketing from Napa Valley College as well as production experience working at Laird Family Estate in Napa and also on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia. We were all so impressed with Jon’s passion for all things O’Shaughnessy, his attention to detail and positive attitude that we decided we had to bring him on board as our Cellar Technician. Jon is the captain of the O’Shaughnessy Skateboarding Team and also a recent recipient of the Husband of the Year award from his wife Alyssia.
Alan Peirson - Viticulturist
A California native, growing up in Marin County, Alan Peirson began his studies as a student in Art History at the College of Marin. Surrounding his artistic life as a ceramicist and sculptor, Alan has always had an intense interest in food, wine, building, design, horticulture and landscaping.
For twenty years, designing, building and managing what is now the Peter Michael Winery Estate, Alan played an integral role in the genesis and development of the estate winery and vineyard program. He also used his many talents as Estate Manager, as well as Artistic Director of a non-profit organization raising money for the performing arts. His palate for fine wines was fed and expanded while managing The Vineyard Cellars.
In the summer of 2002, Alan started a new challenge on the slopes of Mt. Veeder with Sage Vineyards, developing and managing an estate vineyard and wine program while maintaining an active role as part owner of L’Angevin Wines
Luke Russ – Commercial Director
Born in Manhattan, New York and raised in Oakville, California made for a very abrupt introduction to country life in the Napa Valley in the late 70's. A proud graduate of the St. Helena school system Luke worked on both the winemaking and sales teams at Joseph Phelps Vineyards before completing his studies at San Francisco State University (B.S. International Business). Luke spent several additional years in San Francisco working in investment banking and early internet technologies. Luke returned to the Napa Valley and the wine business in 2001 where he has worked in sales, marketing and general management for the last decade.
Luke serves as Commercial Director for O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery and is charged with the creation of sales and marketing strategy, international and domestic distribution and sales team management. In his spare time Luke can usually be found with his wife and twin boys roaming the ‘mean’ streets of Yountville or cycling through the vineyards of Oakville to burn off the calories from his exploits.
Sawyer Riley (center) hails from the Commonwealth of Virginia and very early on began to focus her career on food and wine. After graduating from Ole Miss with a B.A. in Southern Studies and then later The French Culinary Institute she has sharpened her palate as well as her knives while working throughout the South. Holding positions varying from magazine contributor to prep chef to wine distributor Sawyer has now made her home in St. Helena with her trusty beagle James.
Blanca Preciado (left), a native of St. Helena grew up the only girl in a well-established vineyard management family. Let’s just say she can hold her own in most any setting, especially on the soccer pitch, as a longtime intermural and club league soccer star. We grabbed Blanca right after she graduated from San Jose State University (B.A. Social Work; minor in Mexican American Studies) and now feel fortunate to employ two members of the Preciado family. Her brother Orlando is a member of our winemaking team and both are first generation Napa Valley residents.
Cornelia Granbery (right), has danced and backpacked her way around the world to finally come land with us here on Howell Mountain. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee she graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Economics and Modern Dance. Cornelia was bit by the wine bug while studying in Cape Town, South Africa and decided to focus in on this as her career of choice. She continued her wine-centric studies working in Mendoza, Argentina and in San Francisco, California until she was discovered and added to our team. When not on Howell Mountain, Cornelia can usually be found hiking, biking or floating down a stream all the while planning her next great adventure.