Henri & Claire Vandendriessche
In 1960 Henri Vandendriessche came to America from Northern France to study economics at UC Berkeley. He and Claire met in 1967 and fell in love with Napa Valley, as well as with each other. In 1977 they purchased the 64-acre estate just north of Napa with two goals in mind: reviving an 1870’s winery estate to its ancient glory and raising their family on an estate that would reflect and encompass their values. Learning to be good stewards of the land, they relied on their common sense. They moved their young family into the converted old winery and made the farm their home. They replanted as much original vineyard as they could, and dug a cave system where they would make and cellar the wine. Always a family business, Henri oversaw all aspects of the enterprise, including the vineyard management, while Claire marketed and sold the wines. Their three children lived along with the seasons, helping and participating at each stage when time permitted.
The Second Generation
Christopher Vandendriessche was raised in Napa Valley, learning the wine business from his parents. Growing up on the farm, Christopher felt that his first passion was science. While at UCSC pursuing a degree in Physics, Christopher began brewing beer in his dorm room. After graduating in 1992, he came home to tell his father he was, “fascinated with fermentation technology.” Realizing the potential of combining his new found interests with the family business, Christopher moved to France and enrolled in the University of Bordeaux. He graduated with an Enology degree, and went on to work at Chateau Pape Clement in Bordeaux. Following harvests in Burgundy, Spain (Remelluri in Rioja), and Argentina (Catena in Mendoza), Christopher returned to Napa for a position as Assistant Winemaker working under John Kongsgaard at Luna. For the next two years, they made wine for a legendary group of winemakers including David Ramey, Dan Baron, Bill Knuttel, and Marco Capelli, among others. In 1999 Christopher returned to White Rock as Winemaker, excited to apply his winemaking techniques to the property he knows so well. Today, Christopher and his brother Michael have taken over the business, working together to craft thoughtful and balanced wines showcasing the unique terroir of White Rock Vineyards. Christopher and his wife Sarah live with their son in Napa. He is a little bit famous for being a great chef, and a great dancer.
Michael Vandendriessche was raised on the property he now manages. After high school, Michael studied viticulture at Napa Valley College. Not quite ready to settle down after graduation, he spent two years in France studying language methodology, masonry and ornamental iron work. He travelled extensively, working at small farms across Europe, and learning viticulture and terroir during harvest in Burgundy. He returned to Napa in 1996 to take on the role of Vineyard Manager, working the soil that he knows so well. In his free time he enjoys bee keeping, hiking, rock climbing, and spending time with his wife Kendall and their 2 daughters.
Supportive Team: Anne-Marie, Glenn, Kendall, & Sarah
The team would not be complete without the rest of the family. Anne-Marie is an accomplished Cheese-maker for a local artisan creamery; her husband Glenn is an executive coach. Kendall is a vineyard manager for several properties including Ehlers. Sarah is the winemaker at Elizabeth Spencer. As in any family run business, their input, advice, and opinions are an integral part of the exciting future being created at White Rock.
Terra Jane comes to White Rock after 12 years in the Caribbean selling fine wine on tiny islands. After studying Cognitive Science in college, and writing business plans in New York City, she sailed to the Caribbean on a 35-foot trimaran and never looked back. Between travelling extensively over 5 continents, she served in fine-dining restaurants and dabbled in wine and menu consultation, before landing in wine distribution. After managing a small distribution company in the Virgin Islands, she decided to move to California to get her hands dirty and do punch downs.
After graduating with a BA in Business Economics from UC Santa Barbara, Clayton immediately realized that he should have been pursuing Enology at UC Davis. Rather than going for a second baccalaureate, he set out to learn winemaking through reading, experimenting, and apprenticing with some of the best winemakers in the world. Clayton comes to White Rock with an impressive résumé having worked for the past 6 years with some of Napa and Sonoma’s finest vineyards, as well as experiencing harvest positions in New Zealand and Spain. Clayton continues to try his hand at winemaking with Tempranillo and other wines from his home region of Clarksburg.