The Napa Valley is a place of many stories. Tom Clark and Laurie Claudon began theirs in 1974. Both graduates of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and Peace Corp Volunteers in Colombia, they arrived in Napa Valley, new baby boy in tow, ready to take their place among a small group of visionary grape growers and winemakers. It didn’t take long for the couple to be filled with the promise of the land and the infectious spirit that surrounded them.
Tom first worked for Souverain Management Company developing vineyards all over Napa Valley. As their family grew the couple dreamed to one day have a vineyard of their own. Making wine was not part of the fantasy. Rather, they wanted to raise a country family, grow and sell exceptional Cabernet grapes and give back. Little did they know that in 1989 that dream would begin to come true.
In 1978, after 5 years of working for others, Tom founded Clark-Vineyard Management Company and began to develop and manage vineyards throughout the Napa Valley. Spottswoode, St. Supery and private grape customers of Duckhorn Winery were among his clients. As land prices began to rise, Tom and Laurie never expected to have a vineyard of their own.
Ten years later, through a serendipitous set of circumstances, an exceptional piece of property found them. Both undeveloped and unproven, Tom’s experience told him it would be ideal for mountainside Cabernet Sauvignon. The couple planned to develop 70 acres. Yet, after completing 16 acres of phase one, they decide to leave the 100-acre balance of forests, creeks, meadows and ponds in its natural state.
1993 was the first vintage of Clark-Claudon Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1997 Wild Iris Sauvignon Blanc was added followed by Eternity Reserve Estate Cabernet Sauvignon in 2009.
To this day Clark-Claudon represents family, a dance with mother nature, the delicate art of great winemaking and a commitment to the preservation of the environment that supports both. After decades of Napa Valley experiences Tom and Laurie have many stories to share as the second and now third generation grow up enjoying this very special place.
The wine industry would not exist without the expertise and hard work of the vineyard crews. Most of the men and women who work in our vineyard have done so for many years. We appreciate their well-honed skills, friendship, work ethic and commitment to excellence. Clark-Claudon Vineyards would not exist without them!
Laurie Claudon, the soul of Clark-Claudon Vineyards, manages the business, public relations, marketing/sales and production while remaining in close contact with the vineyard and the winemaking.
As a student at Cal Poly University from 1967 to 1971, Laurie Claudon expected a fairly traditional life following graduation. That changed after joining the Peace Corps with her new husband, Tom Clark.
The Peace Corp changed my world perspective, altered my direction and inspired me to care about others in a new way. That care became as simple as an intentional smile and taking the time to listen and as complicated as providing someone a new life out of poverty. The Peace Corps also confirmed my growing desire to raise a family close to nature.
Following the Peace Corp, Laurie taught in alternative high schools for at risk teens. Then six weeks after the birth of their first child, Joshua, the family moved to the Napa Valley. Within two years their second child, Briana was born. It was not uncommon to see Laurie with Josh in a wagon and Briana in a backpack sharing breakfast or lunch with Tom in the vineyard. Life was pretty idyllic.
As the children grew, Laurie returned to school and earned a graduate degree in Counseling Psychology. Her private therapy practice and non-profit student enrichment program for teens filled her need to make a difference.
Today Laurie remains busy with Clark-Claudon Vineyards and the Up-Valley Family Centers, but her favorite place to be is anywhere with at least one of her five grandchildren with her.
Tom Clark, the resident wildlife expert, manages the 117-acre Clark-Claudon property. In addition, Tom assists with production, marketing and managing the 17-acre vineyard.
Tom is not a gentleman farmer, but rather one who loves the work while caring for wildlife and the natural environment along the way. After arriving in the Napa Valley in 1974 Tom mastered the art of wine growing while working for Sovereign Management Company, El Retiro Vineyards (now Screaming Eagle), and Spring Mountain Vineyards. Following these experiences, he founded his own company, Clark Vineyard Management in 1979.
For the next ten years Tom managed and developed vineyards from one end of the Napa Valley to the other. Yet, once the family purchased their own 117 acres in 1989, he divided his focus between the development of the family vineyard and only a few other key properties. In 2000, seeing his son Joshua’s drive to grow Clark Vineyard Management, Tom proudly passed the management company to him.
In addition to his focus on Clark-Claudon Vineyards and its surrounding property, in 2011 Tom’s love of birds inspired the founding of Clark’s Sustainable Systems. Through CSS Tom consults with vineyard owners and vineyard management companies about the sustainable use of wild birds to naturally control insects and rodents in the vineyard.
There is no place that Tom would rather be than in the vineyard with a Red Tail Hawk flying overhead and his grandkids learning and working with him.
Jean’s esteem has grown as the wines in his hands have garnered high scores and critical acclaim. Like a great chef, it takes tremendous skill for a winemaker to draw each nuance from the terroir of his wines. Jean is a master whose wines speak for themselves.
Jean Hoefliger was born and raised in Switzerland where his initial experience took him from Switzerland to Bordeaux, and South Africa, making wine at the esteemed estates of Chateau Lynch-Bages, Chateau Carbonnieux, and Meerlust. After completing a winemaking and viticulture degree at the Swiss Federal School of Changins, Jean came to California where he spent five years as winemaker for Newton Vineyards raising their wines to world class heights.
Jean’s next act was as winemaker and GM at Alpha Omega where he took a beginning brand to 100-point wines. Itching for more, Jean began to consult for a number of local and international wine projects under the AO umbrella.
In 2019, preferring to make wine under his own banner, Jean left his position at Alpha Omega and founded JH Consulting. Beyond his esteemed reputation as a winemaker, Jean’s generosity of spirit, passion and down to earth attitude complete the picture.
Josh Clark, owner of Clark Vineyard Management, manages the Clark-Claudon Vineyards with Tom. As one of the highly recognized vineyard managers in Napa Valley, Josh brings only excellence to the vineyard.
Simply said, Joshua grew up among the vines in Napa Valley often playing and soon working along-side his dad at Clark-Vineyard Management and then Clark-Claudon Vineyards. After graduating from Cal Poly in 1997 with a degree in Agricultural Engineering Technology Josh managed a large vineyard operation in Paso Robles, CA. He enjoyed the work but missed the Napa Valley.
Consequently, Josh returned to his home-town in 1999 to work with both Clark Vineyard Management and Clark-Claudon Vineyards. Given Josh’s ambition Tom proudly passed the company to him in 2000. Josh grew the company and now works with many prestigious winemakers as he develops and manages vineyard properties throughout the Napa Valley and beyond.
Joshua maintains an integral role as vineyard manager at Clark-Claudon Vineyards. His experience and state of the art knowledge continue to be a tremendous asset to the family business. Josh added wife Heather and their three children; Josephine, Paxton & Finley, to the family.
Briana Clark-Forgie, a professional photographer and resident photographer at Clark-Claudon, is based in the Napa Valley. Her talents, positive energy and love of nature assure beautiful images to tell the Clark-Claudon story.
Briana, a nature lover, traveler and out-door adventure seeker was born in the Napa Valley in 1976. Given those traits her parents, Tom Clark and Laurie Claudon, never imagined that she would return to the Napa Valley upon graduation from Cal Poly. Yet, Briana knew it was a special place to raise a family. Plus, given her close knit relationship with her parents and brother, she and her soon to be husband Brian Forgie decided it was where they wanted to be.
As a mother of two very active boys, Brandon & Trevor, and a professional photographer Briana has found many ways to satisfy her wanderlust, sense of adventure and creativity. Not only is she one of the top photographers in the Napa Valley, but she travels the world often providing non-profits with images that showcase their work and tell the stories of people they serve.
17 acres carved out of 117 acres, is located on the north east side of Howell Mountain between Ink Grade and Howell Mountain Road from 800 ft to 1,200 ft elevation. It’s shallow, mountain soils, cool evening breezes and excellent sun exposure are ideal for a low yield of small, intense Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot grapes.
With expansive 360-degree views, the vineyard is double planted on the terraces utilizing both the inside and outside contours. This close planting coupled with the shallow soils provokes the vines to struggle just enough to develop beautiful character. The varying elevations, exposures and soil depths also result in different ripening schedules. Consequently, there are typically three weeks between the first harvest date and the last. This results in five to eight small, distinct harvest lots.
The Clark-Claudon farming philosophy of working with nature is supported by sustainable, low impact and state of the art viticultural practices throughout each season. These include expert water and canopy management, attracting natural predators through the use of hawk, kestrel and song bird boxes as well as providing both a cover crop and surrounding plants that house beneficial insects. The forest, brook and meadows that comprise the balance of the 117-acres are conserved for the abundant birds and wildlife who call it home.
The vineyard is a beautiful place to enjoy nature, peacefulness, family and friends. From season to season it produces exceptional fruit and feeds the family’s soul as they practice the age-old art of wine growing.
A sharing of two passions; making wine and making a difference. Simply said, Tom and Laurie offer a Cabernet for Care selection at a 50% discount while trusting you to donate the other 50% to a charitable cause of your choice.
It is impossible not to be proud of how Cabernet for Care has brought together good people and needy causes; so simple yet so powerful! Cabernet for Care is Changing lives.Laurie Claudon