JOIE DE VINE
Jean Charles Boisset and Gina Gallo-Boisset Create Napa’s Newest Luxury Destination
It may be one of the smallest wine regions on the planet, but Napa Valley is a vinaceous giant. From the hills in the south to the Palisades to the east, the area’s topography and geography have melded together to create a haven where great wineries – and even more outstanding wines – are born. And seated at the helm of this Bacchus-blessed ship is Jean-Charles Boisset, the inherently talented, impossibly flamboyant Captain of the Boisset Collection wine empire..
The son of a winemaking family born within view of Château du Clos de Vougeot and with a proverbial silver spoon – or “tastevin,” as the case may be, Boisset was destined to be a winemaker. His Boisset Collection boasts more than twentyeight notable wineries in the United States and abroad, including those nestled within the Rhône Valley, Côte d’Or, Beaujolais, California’s Russian River Valley, and of course Napa. Yet, the Boisset empire reaches beyond the vines and, indeed, beyond the Emperor himself
In 2009, Boisset wed Gina Gallo, granddaughter of the late Julio Gallo and a lauded winemaker in her own right. Considered Napa’s royal family, the power couple and their daughters Honorée and Grâce live in what some describe as the Buckingham Palace of wine country – an 11,500-square-foot California Mission-style home built by the late Robert and Margrit Mondavi and designed by Cliff May. Both are delightfully approachable and markedly genuine, yet the Boissets are as different as day and night. One is as likely to find Gina wearing jeans and a sweater while inspecting the barrels as they are to see her wearing a bespoke evening gown at a black-tie function. But while Gina may be at home in her wellies, Jean-Charles, or JC as he is known, is quite another story. As gregariously welcoming as his Cali-born wife, Boisset’s love of clothing means that for him, ‘dressing down’ may include sporting a pair of jewel-toned velvet loafers with a matching ascot. Put the couple’s two very distinct aesthetics and personalities together, though, and what you have is something magical -case in point, The Ink House, the Boissets’ newest acquisition and Napa’s most exquisitely elegant accommodation.
Located in the heart of Napa in St. Helena, The Ink House is infused with all things Boisset -style, elegance, high design, hospitality, comfort, more than a touch of quirk, and, of course, wine. The Italianate manse was built in 1885 by Theron H. Ink on the property formerly known as Helios Ranch. An iconic valley landmark for more than 130 years, the home was granted a place on National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Over the years, the Ink House has served as a residence, bed and breakfast, and even Elvis Presley’s temporary home while the King was filming Wild in the Country in 1960. However, under Boisset’s current tutelage, it has become a covetable destination within a destination.
Featuring four ensuite accommodations, the house’s ethos is evident – stay, enjoy, indulge. The home also offers an intimate parlor, an utterly sighworthy kitchen, and a formal dining room featuring a Baccarat chandelier and a dining table that once seated the Gallo family for Sunday dinners. Venture upstairs to the garret, and you’ll find breathtaking 360-degree views, not to mention a sublime location for aperitivos.
Outside, guests will find the newly restored Bocce court, fountains, gardens, and a vineyard in miniature. Upcoming additions include the estate’s barn transformation into an intimate venue for celebrations and events, a tucked-away speakeasy, and a dazzling pool. “Coming from generations of winemakers, I have always had a deep appreciation for quality stewardship of the land,” explains Gina Gallo. “Our family will bring this same level of care to this special historic property.”
Days at The Ink House begin with gourmet breakfasts created by local chefs and featuring local fare. Following breakfast, guests can enjoy the property or set off to explore the region. The magic of Napa is just outside your door, and the Boisset’s want you to experience it all. From caviar and champagne pairings to crafting your own blend with a local winemaker or curated boutique shopping to simply sipping your way through Napa, choices through The Ink House are divine and seemingly endless. It’s an adventure you won’t soon forget because, after all, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said it best, “life is too short to drink bad wine.”