Napa Valley is known for its lifestyle emphasizing rustic elegance, pioneering spirit, and wine, wine, wine.
There’s also a revived interest in the area’s history, and Jean-Charles Boisset of The Boisset Collection is at the heart of the movement. “We have a keen attraction for historical destinations; it is important to preserve the American principle of architecture and design for the future.”
Jean-Charles has been acquiring, restoring, and preserving landmarks all over California wine country and putting his inimitable touch on each location as he brings it back to life. There is a veritable cornucopia of Boisset properties offering over-the-top, decadent, and luxurious experiences—so many that a visitor could build a weekend around only those locales. One legendary property especially close to the French-born vintner’s heart is The Ink House, owned by Jean-Charles and his American-born wife, Gina Gallo-Boisset. They love historic properties, such as Gina’s Dry Creek Store in Healdsburg, founded in 1881.
THE INK HOUSE
“The Ink House was founded as part of the legendary Helios Ranch–an over 300-acre estate in St. Helena and Rutherford. It has a phenomenal past and attracts us to preserve, promote, and enhance it to accentuate that remarkable history,” according to Jean-Charles. The opulent Inn unveils a new style of luxury travel unlike any other in Napa Valley and exudes the couple’s personal touch and charm.
“The Ink House is a fabulous asset in the heart of Napa Valley, [it is] a historical landmark that must endure. We acquired it together for the next generation so that they can continue to maintain the vision and history of California. Even though Gina is a Modesto native and I’m from Burgundy, we embrace the identity of now-residents and stewards of Napa Valley.”
Evocative of the valley’s past, the land is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1885 by Napa Valley pioneer Theron Ink as a single-family home, later to become a bed and breakfast. The purchase and preservation of the celebrated property carry on the legacy of offering unparalleled experiences and access to Napa Valley luxury through the eyes of Jean-Charles and Gina. These two grew up in renowned and historic winemaking families; to many, they are considered wine industry royalty.
Gina shared, “Coming from a long lineage of winemakers, I have always had a deep appreciation for quality stewardship of the land. Our family brings this same level of care to this historic Napa Valley landmark.”
With Ink House, the couple has curated the ultimate Napa Valley. An estate manager arranges bespoke wine tastings, a private chef prepares exquisite meals, and excursions are booked for you to other Boisset or Gallo properties.
The Inn also carries the pair’s new line of skincare products, Le Clos Saint Honoré, made with fruit from the couple’s estate vineyard in Burgundy. The active ingredients include resveratrol, diamond dust, iris, and hyaluronic acid. Jean-Charles and Gina’s love story inspired Le Clos, which originated in Burgundy (where Jean-Charles also originated) and now offers products from Burgundy and Napa Valley, bringing the two worlds of Boisset and Gallo together. The anti-aging Marriage Cream embraces the virtues of youth for both men and women, combining exceptional active agents and luxurious application. Le Clos Marriage Crème blends the polyphenol benefits of the Burgundian grapes with timeless diamond dust and vibrant iris to allow you to look your most radiant day after day.
Partners in life and business, it is unsurprising that the Boissets share a passion for historic preservation. At Ink House, the sense of stepping into and holding onto Napa’s past is woven throughout.
“We want [the Ink House] to continue for generations. It is essential to preserve from 1885 to the future of California. We will succeed in anchoring wine and the history of California by preserving historical monuments and ensuring they are restored in line with the vision of the founders and visionaries of the past,” the Boisset proprietor explained.
Because this is a collaboration between the power couple, guests of the Ink House have unique access to the wines and experiences that Gina crafts at her family winery, E & J Gallo Winery, including her Gallo Signature Series, Louis Martini, and William Hill wines, and guests are offered a visit to the invite-only Secret Indulgence, a one-of-a-kind private tasting experience steps from the estate. Secret Indulgence boasts limited-edition wines with a guided educational winetasting alongside a personal sommelier.
Jean-Charles’ dream of celebrating the past by carrying it into the present and future is a hallmark of his preservation plans. “It is essential to us to bring to the 21st century a 19th-century house with the vision of the past completed and fulfilled… to bring younger generations, dynamism, and energy from the 19th century to the 21st century – contemporary within historical views to entice the modern era to celebrate in the grandeur of time.”
The exquisitely appointed Inn has four ensuite bedrooms, starting from $850 per night; multi-room blocks are available for those wanting to enjoy it as a private Napa Valley estate. Each Ink House guest room draws inspiration from the past, heralding the Inn’s remarkable history.
At the top of the Ink House, the Observatory offers a 360-degree view of Napa Valley, the tallest point from the valley floor. When they head back to the Ink House at the end of the day, guests can wind down on the wrap-around veranda with a cigar and a glass of JCB 1969 Cognac before heading down to the onsite, perfectly appointed Speakeasy, complete with billiards, chess, a private bar, and a piano once played by Elvis Presley.
The Ink House represents the Boisset’s first Napa Valley restoration project together, but the couple has restored many buildings from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, including Chateau de Pierreux, La Maison in Vougeot, Louis Bouillot, and their family winery Jean-Claude Boisset in Nuits-St-Georges.
“Gina and I share the same vision and idea for design – we want to bring a certain level of sophistication, elegance, and grooviness to each place we feel and touch. It is important to preserve, to be historical, but not rigid… to be attractive and unique in the fabrics, the feel, and the energy we bring to each of those places. We are fully in line with this vision together.”
Here is a sampling of other must-experience Boisset Collection properties in California wine country. Each one symbolizes the Boisset “preservation with panache” in its singular way.
JCB ST. HELENA
What says extravagance more than Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams? JCB St. Helena features a selection of artisanal caviar paired with exceptional JCB champagnes and sparkling wines. The JCB Salon is a secluded hideaway on the Raymond Vineyards property. It unites exclusive Napa Valley wines, luxury, and style, curated and created by Jean-Charles.
BUENA VISTA WINERY
Before there was a California wine world at all, there was Buena Vista. Founded in 1857, Buena Vista is California’s first premium winery. It offers barrel tasting in the renovated Champagne Cellar or tours of the 1862 Press House steeped in wine lore. Stroll the grounds and explore the Wine Tool Museum before toasting the original owner, “The Count,” with a glass of Champagne. Visitors are transported to an era of carefree revelry and opulence in the Bubble Lounge or its red-wine counterpart, The Cave of Curiosity.
CHATEAU BUENA VISTA
“We are certainly not shy to bring spice, energy, and allure, but at the same time, respect – Gina and I align deeply with this sense of inspiration.”
Jean-Charles dreamed of bringing the Buena Vista Winery to a permanent location in Napa Valley. The dream was realized through the Chateau Buena Vista tasting room in downtown Napa’s historic 1929 Gordon Building. Experience the pinnacle of luxury with a decadent tasting of Champagne, Caviar, Cabernet, and Chocolate. This perfectly paired sequence heightens the senses, fills one with delight, and is the ultimate indulgence.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Oakville Grocery in Napa Valley has been a wine country institution since 1881. This 1800s throwback is now a vibrant gathering place for locals and visitors, wine drinkers and vintners, hungry (and wood-fired pizza-loving) neighbors, and culinary connoisseurs. Locations in Sonoma and Healdsburg expand its legacy. Grab a cup of locally sourced coffee and a picnic basket chock-full of lunch and snack items at all three locations.
OAKVILLE WINE MERCHANT
At the Oakville Wine Merchant, adjacent to Napa’s Oakville Grocery, guests choose from more than 50 wines by the glass of Napa’s finest producers in a comfortable lounge setting. The nearly 150-year-old Victorian house is also home to the 1881 Napa Wine History Museum.
Raymond Vineyards celebrated its first harvest in 1974. Today with the Boisset panache, guests can try their hands at being a winemaker for a day by blending their own Napa Valley Bordeaux-style red wine and designing their own personal label. Or relax in a private Cabana Under the Palms or in the Grove to relish serene and picturesque wine country.
ELIZABETH SPENCER WINERY
Set in the heart of Napa Valley at Rutherford Cross Estate, a historic 1872 brick Post Office is home to one of Rutherford’s best-kept secrets, the Elizabeth Spencer Winery. Tucked behind is an enchanted setting that unveils their award-winning wines and a permanent exhibition of vintage kitchenware, “Kitchen Memories Collection” by Kathleen Thompson Hill. Explore and discover the signature wines while strolling through the exhibition, then soak up the sun while playing croquet in the avant-garde courtyard.
The Calistoga Depot Provisions on Main Street, Calistoga, combines a Napa Valley landmark with an impressive array of casual gourmet items, cocktails and spirits, beer on tap, and, of course, wine. Housed in a beautifully preserved and updated 1868 train depot, California’s second oldest train depot, guests walk through time with each sip and learn the hidden beauty and significance of the reincarnated Calistoga Depot.
The Boisset family brought together two generations from Burgundy, France, and California’s Russian River Valley. Sample featured wines from the Boisset wineries in France alongside their counterparts from DeLoach Vineyards, and taste the difference that varying climates and soil types make in these celebrated varietals.
“Napa lifestyle brings people together. Whether you are from Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and every part of the US – everyone brings the best of what they have and takes it to the highest level here. Wherever you are from, Napa is that lifestyle, that je ne sais quoi, that brings around the table that common appreciation of great wine, food, culture, music, art, preservation of iconic past, and the landscape that is Napa.”