Paula Kornell, general manager
Growing up on her family’s Napa Valley vineyard, Paula was the girl who sold prunes, walnuts and peacock feathers in front of the tasting room at Hanns Kornell Champagne during summer months. When she wanted to spend time with her father, winemaker Hanns Kornell, she jumped on a horse and joined him for a ride or worked alongside him in the winery. In those days she was certain she would become either a veterinarian or a champagne maker by day and a ballerina by night.
After college and a stint in Manhattan, Paula returned to Napa Valley to work with her father until the closing of the family winery in 1992. She joined Robert Mondavi as General Manager of Vichon Winery and stayed with the organization for eight years. She ventured to Sonoma County to become General Manager of Carmenet, then was wooed back to Napa Valley by Oakville Ranch. The draw here is working with what she calls “a magical piece of property.” Her first visit to the mountain-top vineyard was enchanting. She knew she wanted to help tell its story—a story very similar to her own, about belonging to this blessed place and fostering its bounty. People often ask her how she can drive up the winding mountain road every day. To Paula, that is a big part of the joy she takes in Oakville Ranch.
Deeply connected to her community, she chaired the 1992 Napa Valley Wine Auction, now known as Auction Napa Valley, and served as a co-chair in 2005. She was 2009 President of the Board of Directors for the Napa Valley Vintners, filling a position her father held 45 years earlier. While she is longer on that board, she remains an active NVV member. She continues to serve on the boards of the Oakville Winegrowers and the California Wine Institute, and recently joined the board of Napa’s Queen of the Valley Hospital.
Paula is a founding member of the Lust for Life group of women vintners and is active in a new organization, Wine Entre Femmes, comprised of women in the Napa Valley wine trade working to share ideas, learn from one another and educate women consumers about fine wine. More than slightly canine obsessed, she volunteers with Guide Dogs for the Blind and recently encouraged Cowboy, an English bulldog, to follow her home. He joins Magoo, a Bassett hound who remains philosophical about her two other obsessions: gardening and cooking. Given the choice between dessert and a cheese course, she’ll go with cheese every time. Epoisses is a perennial favorite.