For These Influential Families, Life is Like ‘Succession’—but With More Wine and Far Less Drama
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For These Influential Families, Life is Like ‘Succession’—but With More Wine and Far Less Drama

Some of the top companies in California wine are intergenerational concerns. How do these families manage to pass the torch gracefully, and what can we expect from the next generation?

Sat, Jul 15, 2023 7:00amGrey Clock 3 min

IN ITALY, THEY have a saying about family-run companies, shared by an Italian winemaker I know: “The first generation builds it, the second maintains it and the third destroys it.”

I’m happy to report that under the stewardship of this winemaker and his sister—the second generation to run their winery—his family business is flourishing. How do some families fit the personal with the professional to create successful intergenerational businesses, while others do not? I talked with three prominent California wine families who seem to have figured it out.

Ramey Wine Cellars, Healdsburg

It was never a given that David Ramey’s children, Claire and Alan, would take over the family winery. “You can’t force it. It had to be natural,” said the elder Ramey, who has been making notable wine in California for 45 years, for other wineries as well as his own.

Founded by Ramey and his wife, Carla, in 1996, Ramey Wine Cellars produces a range of high-scoring wines, notably single-vineyard Chardonnays. David Ramey said, “We had a defining moment in March 2020 when a French company wanted to buy the winery.” While both Claire, now 32, and Alan, 31, were already committed to the winery, by collectively choosing to turn down the offer, they reaffirmed that commitment to their parents.

Both siblings hold the title co-president; each focuses on different aspects of the business, though all decisions are made jointly and their duties often overlap. Both Ramey children and their father taste all the wines together with Cameron Frey, vice president of winemaking, and Lydia Cummins, associate winemaker, and make final blending choices. But David Ramey is no longer at the forefront and no longer has an office at the winery. The second generation is making decisions, from pricing to production to experimenting with new wines, and that’s fine with their dad. “If you are going to do it, you’ve got to start to cede control to the younger generation,” he said.

Bien Nacido Vineyards, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County

The Miller family has been farming in California’s Central Coast for five generations. When fourth-generation brothers Steven and the late Bob Miller planted the Bien Nacido Vineyards in 1973, the Central Coast wasn’t highly regarded. Today, the 640-acre vineyard is considered one of the greatest in California and the source of some of the state’s most notable Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and Syrahs.

The Millers sold grapes to famous names such as the late Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat, Bob Lindquist of Qupé and many others, but it took the fifth generation—Nicholas and Marshall Miller, together with their father, Steven Miller—to go ahead and finally produce their own Bien Nacido-designated wines and to open a tasting room. The family produced their first Bien Nacido wine in 2007, and just two months ago, the Millers opened the Gatehouse at Bien Nacido tasting room at the vineyard.

The younger generation continues to expand the business. For example, they just launched the nonalcoholic wine brand Hand on Heart, in partnership with Iron Chef Cat Cora. The secret to their success? “We are a very experienced team, and we understand each other deeply,” said Nicholas Miller.

K&L Wine Merchants

With three retail wine stores spread out between the Bay Area and Los Angeles and two more slated to open early next year, plus a large online sales operation, K&L Wine Merchants is one of the best-known names in retail wine in California and also one of its most dynamic.

K&L was founded in 1976 with one store and two partners: Clyde Beffa, Jr., a former dairy rancher, and Todd Zucker, who got his start in the insurance business. Today, the K&L empire is owned and operated by two generations of Beffas and Zuckers.

In the early years, the founding partners divided responsibilities, with Zucker in charge of liquor and Beffa handling the wine. As the wine side grew, Zucker transitioned to accounting and finance. Since joining in 1997, Zucker’s son Brian, focused on technology and marketing, has developed software critical to the expansion of K&L.

Beffa has turned much of the wine buying and wine-buyer oversight over to his son Clyde “Trey” Beffa III, who joined the company in 1997. The elder Beffa still buys a lot of the Bordeaux for K&L, however. “He’s kind of a control freak,” said Trey of his father. The two Beffas share a fondness for Bordeaux, but their tastes diverge. The father prefers older Bordeaux, whereas the son likes to drink Bordeaux when it is relatively young. “Before it begins to decline,” Trey explained. “I like a little more fruit in my wine.”


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Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.

Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.

“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.

“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.

While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.

“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.

While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.

Anti Ageing and Beyond

“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.

On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.

Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.

Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.

Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.

Data-Driven Wellness

Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.

“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”

Human connection is a central draw for guests at Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.

Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.

Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.

Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Sanctuaries for Longevity

Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.

Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.

Banya Spa House at Aman New York.
Robert Rieger

The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.

“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.

Resetting the Mind and Body

Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.

Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.

“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.

Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.

While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”

“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”

Banya Spa House at Aman New York provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
Robert Rieger

This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.


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