Meet Adam Taplin

May 29th, 2024

What is your place in the family, and what does living on the land mean to you? 

My ancestors settled in the Napa Valley in the 1870s, in two separate locations: one family where I am now, and another over on Silverado Trail. I’m now the sixth generation to live here on this ranch with my family.

I love being physically close to family, especially after my wife, Toni, and I lived on the east coast for so long. I can send my kids to my dad and stepmom’s house on their bikes, and that’s an amazing privilege. My kids sleep in the same spot their great-grandfather did, and one can see other people’s handiwork all over the place, from crotchety homemade irrigation systems to plows that somebody parked and let a tree grow around! It makes me feel like I’m surrounded by good stories all the time.

I’m also incredibly happy to be able to work with my family. Like anybody in a family business will tell you, it has its challenges, but it also gives you the opportunity to see what people are good at and create new memories. Board meetings each week (my dad, stepmom, uncle, and myself) always include a little joking around and good-natured ribbing.

I feel a responsibility to be a good temporary steward, and I hope that through my involvement we can generate some good in the world.

What is your background before you relocated your family to St. Helena to live on property? 

I grew up in Seattle and lived there until college at Kenyon, in Ohio, where I met Toni. We graduated in 2003, and after college I spent a summer here working for our cousin’s vineyard management company as part of the crews that would move around the valley and do all kinds of things. 

I’m grateful to Doug and Wight Vineyard Management for the formative experience that they provided me, not only because of the vineyard experience (hard, but amazing, work! I perfected the no-look reversal of an ATV out of a pickup truck bed!), but because it gave me a feeling of deep connection to this place. I loved experiencing the ranch and all the people that you see here: family, workers, people from the community, etc. I also got to know my grandfather Ken really well during that time, as well as my grandmother Alice, who by then was deeply affected by Alzheimer’s. My Aunt Melinda and Uncle George were up here a lot as well, and their presence always signaled that fun would be had. All of these family members have played a huge role in my attachment to this ranch, as has my Dad for embracing my interest in it.

After that summer, I moved to Brooklyn, where I worked in a couple of different wine retailers before transitioning into publishing. I lived in Brooklyn for six years, Toni and I got married in 2009, and then moved back to Seattle in 2010 while I attended graduate school in experience design.

After graduation in 2012 we moved back to the New York/New Jersey area and I started my career in experience design, which is still my full-time job, and had our three boys, before moving to St. Helena in July 2022. I became formally involved in the family business in 2015 when my Aunt Melinda passed away and she had designated me to represent my generation. 

What was your relationship with the Taplin property growing up? 

We came in the summers, and I have very fond memories of hunting lizards, going to the pool, finding obsidian, and always talking about eating, preparing to eat, and then finally eating. It was a key aspect of every day. The most sought-after items I remember being fresh corn, tomatoes, abalone, and my grandfather’s own wild-caught hot-smoked salmon from the coast. I have great memories too of running around with my cousins Neal, Haley, and Lynn, who grew up here. I’d get to play in the stream or ride an ATV with them, and I always looked forward to that.

Why did you and your wife decide to relocate to St. Helena when you did?

I always hoped we would be able to get back here, but I didn’t know when. At the time I left here to go to Brooklyn I thought I would be gone for a year or two, but that turned into almost twenty. As my involvement became more and more central to my life, Toni and I started talking about it as a possibility.

The pandemic made remote work possible for my day job, and we realized that if we wanted to get here we should do it when the kids were a good age to still be adaptable and able to meet new people. I’m incredibly grateful to Toni for being up to throw our lives up in the air once again (after the other moves back and forth between east and west). Our relationship is a source of strength for everything we do together in the life we have created here.

What role have you taken on in the family business, and why is it important to you?

I feel like I need to earn the ownership. That is what motivates me every day really, when I’m not doing my day job. I want to understand as much as I possibly can about how this place works and how to make it better, and hopefully, as I said before, positively impact the world in the process. But that’s going to take a lot of time and work to come to fruition.

To answer a bit more literally, I’m especially interested in the viticulture, taking care of the land in a sustainable way (beyond the vineyard), financial operations, and the underlying governance model for how we as a family can manage our operations. I also work on our digital presence since that is my professional skill set.

There is a limitless amount of stuff to learn here, and I think I’ll probably always feel like the new guy. But at the same time that’s what draws me to it. I love to learn! And there are immediate applications for anything you could think of to explore, from plant biology to AI. That’s really energizing to me.

Back to Recent Updates
Current Releases wine bottle

Current Releases

Show Now