The Lady Gang of Bouchaine Vineyards

Tatiana Copeland, proprietor and president of Bouchaine Vineyards, is a true woman of the world. She was born in Germany, raised in Argentina, and educated at both UCLA, where she landed at the top of her class and Berkley, where she received an MBA. Tatiana is fluent in five languages and has Russian roots that go back more than 1,000 years.

Wine and food for enjoyment was a part of Tatiana’s life from a young age and Composer Sergei Rachmaninoff is her great uncle! Tatiana was once quoted, “as far back as I can remember, we enjoyed wine with our meals”. This is a true hallmark of a European (or an Argentine) household. Wine and food are inextricably tied and land on almost every single table for every single meal.

Bouchaine Vineyards is a historic Carneros winery, in fact, the oldest continuously operating winery in Carneros. Carneros being the only AVA that straddles both Napa and Sonoma. Grapes were first planted on the property in the 1880s. The original owners sold to Beringer, who owned it for 20 years and then the Copelands, Tatiana and Gerret, bought the property plus 30 surrounding acres in 1981. They now have 87 acres planted under vine.

Sustainability is a core tenet of Bouchaine and what they do. Examples include: cover crops (to prevent soil erosion and to add organic matter), composting, bird boxes and raptor perches used as integrated pest management solutions, natural waterways to improve natural water flow. Lastly, deficit irrigation is used to minimize water use and restrict vine growth. In fact, some years they’re even able to dry farm. Bouchaine was the first Fish Friendly certified vineyard in Napa Valley, and they also hold Napa Green certification.

I recently caught up with Napa native, Chris Kajani, GM and winemaker at Bouchaine to talk about their “secret sauce”.

Brianne: Talk to me about your female-dominated team. Was that intentional? Happenstance?

Chris: Proprietor and President Tatiana Copeland found this magical property overlooking the San Pablo Bay and started Bouchaine Vineyards with her husband Gerret in 1981.  Over the years, they hired some of my favorite women in the wine industry including superstars Eugenia Keegan and Heidi Barrett. I joined Bouchaine in 2015 as winemaker and general manager. We recently tapped Emily Weimer from Three Sticks to join us as assistant winemaker. In addition to the talent in our cellar, our secret sauce is definitely our 87-acre estate vineyard and our all-female crew who cares for it during the growing season.  Fine wine is grown in the vineyard and these women bring the focus and detail that has taken our winegrowing to new heights!

Brianne: How has the female-dominated Bouchaine team differed from any other team you’ve worked with?  

Chris: There is a collaborative spirit here that we have crafted and prioritized.  For people to thrive, they need to feel a part of the decision-making process.  Since 2015, my focus has been to build a team that leans in to each other’s ideas to build new programs and systems together, whether in winemaking or sales.  I believe women are less likely to make decisions in a silo and our tendency towards inclusiveness results in well-rounded plans and, moreover, allows us to build strong, dynamic, thriving teams who problem solve together.

Brianne: As I understand, your entire vineyard team is female. How many people? And are these employees or contractors?  

Chris: We work with Walsh Vineyard Management to oversee our vineyards.  Walsh works with both male and female crews and employs more than 200 women for vineyard operations during the growing season.  These women do everything from being crew leaders and field scouts, to performing detailed vine work and driving tractors.  Our Director of Operations, Erik Goodmanson, and I show the work we’d like to see from them with and initial panels of 10 vines then, by the end of the week all 87 acres looks exactly like our panel.  It is so inspiring to work with these amazingly skilled and focused women!

Brianne: Tell me about your unique use of technology in the vineyard and how it’s helping you make informed decisions from real data.

Chris: We began doing virtual tastings with Cisco teams in 2020 during the shutdown.  As we developed relationships with them, they asked if we would like to be a ‘living lab’ and we jumped at the chance to have their new Industrial Asset Vision sensors placed throughout our vineyard.  Having the ability to compare temperature, humidity, wind speed and light across different vineyard blocks allows us to dial in vine operations by block and further elevate our winegrowing

In addition to standard wine tastings, visitors to Bouchaine can participate in unique experiences.

Taste Of Technology ($95pp – Appt Only – Private Groups)

On this tour, guests will get to see firsthand where the wine in their glass begins with an inside look at the new Cisco sensor technology (discussed above) that allows Bouchaine to make block-by-block vineyard decisions to reduce their carbon footprint in the vineyard. Leading up to harvest, guests will have a chance to try grapes fresh off the vine. Taste through 5 wines on the vineyard terraces overlooking the bay with views to San Francisco.

Falconry In The Garden ($75pp)

Join Rebecca Rosen of Authentic Abatement for an overview of falconry in the vineyard. This includes: a personal experience with Rebecca’s raptors – including hawks, owls, and falcons, an explanation of how falcons help during our grape harvest, insights into how raptors hunt, fly, and see, and your chance to have your picture taken with falcons! Enjoy a wine tasting after the experience.

Brianne Cohen is an LA based event producer, certified sommelier, wine educator, and wine writer. During the pandemic, Brianne entertained over 7,000 people through her “Virtual Vino” online wine classes, regularly highlighting diverse (i.e. Black, BIPOC, female, and LGBT) owned wineries. She now offers both in-person (and virtual) wine tasting experiences for her corporate clients. Brianne regularly judges at international wine competitions, including the International Wine Challenge (IWC) in London and holds the WSET Diploma certificate. She writes on her own blog and for outlets such as Decanter, Vintner Project, and Kiplinger. She also holds an MBA from Loyola Marymount University. Brianne Cohen Wine & Events is a certified woman-owned business with WBENC.