"Being back in Napa is like coming back to the mainstream," Clews said. Lake County, north of Napa Valley, has only five wineries, compared to Napa's 250.
Clews had worked with Steele since 1992 at Konocti Winery, which Steele subsequently purchased in 1996 for his own operations. Steele Wines and its second label, Shooting Star, are known for producing outstanding vineyard-designated varietals -- particularly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir -- from throughout California.
Clews will help Clos Du Val expand its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir production, taking advantage of new plantings of these varieties among the winery's 150 acres of vines in the Carneros region. Clos Du Val currently makes mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, and Clews' mandate also includes fleshing out the winery's relatively lean style of Cabernet to bring it more in line with current stylistic conventions.
Chris Markell, who has been at Clos Du Val for the last two years, is moving to Australia, where he will head winemaking operations for Taltarni Vineyards, best known for its Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. The winery belongs to Clos Du Val's owner, John Goelet.
For ratings of Clos Du Val and Steele wines, check the Wine Search.
For more on Clos Du Val:
Where Clos Du Val Went Wrong
For more on Steele Wines:
California's Jed Steele Decides to Put Down Roots
Hot New Wines From California