Visit Calistoga recently sat down with Katie Leonardini, Vice-President of Operations and Co-Proprietor of Whitehall Lane Winery to talk about her life and loves in the Napa Valley, where she has lived since her parents purchased the winery in 1993. Today the Leonardini family oversees all of Whitehall Lane Winery operations and oversee the eight vineyards they own, two in Sonoma and six in Napa.
Katie shared with Visit Calistoga a few of her favorite things including relaxing after work on her porch swing, likely with her three pets and a bubbly beverage (water, lemonade or wine!) in her hand, followed by impromptu evening meals where 15 people around the dinner table is the norm. Katie loves to cook so she handles the menu and prepares everything from scratch for the dinner guests who usually include her longtime boyfriend; children (Katie has three), extended family and neighbors. “We use excuses such as birthdays, holidays, graduations, special accomplishments, month of the year, day of the week, any excuse to gather”, Katie told Visit Calistoga.
Katie also enjoys the outdoors and loves hitting the hiking trails in Calistoga and always with her wine essentials close by. You will not find Katie without a wine opener, Govino glasses, Whitehall Lane Semillion and Blanc de Noir, a fun mixed cocktail in a can, and a Yeti cooler. Also part of the essential collection is a wooden wine box that holds all the necessary items for Katie’s Thursday night bocce games as well as a blanket for impromptu picnics, local sporting events and outdoor concerts.
Speaking of the great, green outdoors we asked Katie about the winery’s sustainability efforts and “Napa Green” certification, which she and Whitehall Lane winemaker, Jason Moulton, worked tirelessly to receive. “We continually educate the staff of 25 to practice sustainability in every aspect of their job”, she told Visit Calistoga. This desire to learn and educate holds true throughout Katie’s life and she shared with us what she has learned through the years, notably, “remember that what you study in college will likely NOT be what you end up doing in your professional career, but you are still gathering skills that you can apply to your future. You will always be learning in life”, Katie said, emphasizing how important it is to keep learning, to listen more and be a critical thinker. “Ask why”, Katie told us.
So we asked her, what do you think makes Calistoga different from other towns in the valley? “Calistoga truly has its own personality and is so charming. It does not have a cookie cutter main street feel to it. The town is easygoing and not stuffy. The shops are unique and welcoming, and some of my favorite restaurants in the Valley are in Calistoga,” she responded. This is Calistoga and this is Katie Leonardini of Whitehall Lane Winery.
This is Calistoga is our blog series profiling our members, their stories and life in Calistoga. Check in regularly and follow along.