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The Proust Q&A: Eileen Crane

Eileen Crane is the CEO and chief winemaker of Domaine Carneros, considered the jewel in Napa’s sparkling crown. Crane has worked at the Taittinger-owned estate for 25 years, where she makes a number of different still and sparkling wines, including prestige cuvée Le Rêve. She lives in the Napa Valley with her husband.

1: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Sitting outside on the deck as the sun sets on a Friday night with a bottle of bubbles by my side.

2: What is your greatest fear?

The moment when I have to blend Le Rêve every year. As it only happens once a year, when the moment comes around, there’s always that fear that you won’t be able to do it again.

3: Which living person do you most admire?

Margaret Thatcher – not because I agreed with her beliefs but because she stuck to her beliefs.

4: What is your greatest extravagance?

Two hot fudge sundaes on my birthday.

5: What is your current state of mind?

Relief that Obama has been re-elected.

6: What is the quality you most like in a man?

Compassion and the ability to cook well.

7: What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My husband.

8: When and where were you happiest?

In the early ’90s I was asked to lecture on wine on a cruise ship that travelled from Monte Carlo to Istanbul. The boat was filled with food, wine and art lovers, and we talked late into the night, hopping off all over the place and having dinner on cliff edges as the sun set. It was magical.

9: Which talent would you most like to have?

To be able to sing beautifully.

10: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d like to be able to give up my addiction to sweets and stop obsessing about things.

11: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Creating and maintaining Le Rêve.

12: Where would you most like to live?

Right where I am in Napa Valley.

13: What is your most treasured possession?

A Japanese scroll my late parents gave me with an illustration that looks like the drive up to Mendocino. I have it displayed in my front room.

14: What is your most marked characteristic?


15: Who are your favorite writers?

Jane Austen and Margaret Frazer – I love a good mystery.

16: Who is your hero of fiction?

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

17: What is it that you most dislike?

People who posture over wine. I can’t stand wine bores.

18: What is your greatest regret?

That I was not as kind as I could have been early on in life.

19: What is your motto?

The famous Will Rogers quote: “Even if you’re on the right track, if you’re just sitting there you’ll get run over.”

20: Who would be your ideal dinner party guests and what three wines would you serve them?

I’d like to mix it up with characters from history, so I’d have Thomas Jefferson, Jane Austen. Ghandi, Mao Zedong, Genghis Khan and Noah. I’d begin with Le Rêve 2006 to show them Napa can make sparklers as good as Champagne, then we’d move on to the famous 1787 Lafite that purportedly belonged to Thomas Jefferson who could authenticate it. We’d then try one of Noah’s wines, as he was said to be the first person on earth to make wine, and we’d end with a bottle of Champagne from the 1850s. Conversation would definitely be flowing by then.

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