After a 42-year career, sparkling wine industry pioneer Eileen Crane, CEO and head winemaker at Domaine Carneros, will be stepping down from her role as CEO this summer.
In 1987, she was selected by Claude Taittinger, president of Champagne Taittinger, to develop the winery. From the beginning, Crane has been an innovator in winemaking, hospitality, direct-to-client services, open book management and environmentally sound practices.
Crane’s desire to become a winemaker was born out of her early experiences in New Jersey where she learned about wine via her father’s extensive wine cellar. She fell in love with Champagne with her first sip as a child. After having earned a master’s degree in nutrition as well as professional training at the Culinary Institute of America, Crane drove across the country to California in 1978 to enroll in oenology and viticulture courses at UC, Davis. There, she was told by a male professor that she would never get a job in the wine industry as a woman could not do barrel work.
With determination and the support of Professor Ann Noble at Davis, Crane forged ahead. Prior to joining Domaine Carneros, Crane was hired in 1984 to construct Gloria Ferrer and make their early cuvées. Her first job in the wine industry was as a tour guide at Domaine Chandon.
Champagne Taittinger President Director General Pierre Emmanuel Taittinger said, “From the time my uncle Claude interviewed Eileen til today, for the past 33 years, she has been a guiding, steady and creative hand at the helm of Domaine Carneros. It is an internationally renowned brand due to her commitment to excellence and ability to create memorable and elegant wines.”
Crane said, “My dream from the age of eight was to make delicious sparkling wine. From a little girl in New Jersey through a path of many adventures with twists and turns, eventually I found the career that has been more than a dream come true. And it has been a great pleasure to work with the Taittinger family for 33 years.”
Crane’s other career contributions include being active in non-profits as chairperson emerita of Collabria Care (Hospice), board member of Music in the Vineyard and previously a long-term board member of Clinic Ole (now OLE Health). She has chaired two wine organizations, Carneros Wine Alliance and the Sparkling Wine Society.
She will continue as lead sparkling winemaker through 2020 harvest and cuvée blending. Stepping into the role of sparkling winemaker will be Zak Miller, who has worked for over a decade with Crane as a member of the winemaking team. He will be at the forefront of daily sparkling operations ranging from harvesting, cuvée blending, and tirage, seeing it all through the final sparkling wine process of disgorging.