Jim Duane brings his extensive knowledge of winemaking from regions around the world to Seavey Vineyard. While doing his undergraduate work in Biology and Chemistry at Gonzaga University in Washington, Jim worked with wineries in the northwest. Pursuing his desire to experience the viticulture in wine regions around the world, Jim worked with Montana Wines in New Zealand’s Malborough region of the South Island. While earning his Master’s Degree in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis, Jim travelled to meet with winemaking teams at some of the most famed chateaux and domaines in Bordeaux, Burgundy, The Rhone, and Champagne, including: Chateau Haut Brion; Lafite Rothschild; Cheval Blanc; to study their winemaking practices concerning the expression of terroir through each vintage.
Upon his return to Napa Valley, Jim joined Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville. Working with some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in Napa Valley inspired him to focus his attention on the Bordeaux varietals. Most recently, Jim worked at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, further honing his craft. Jim worked with Stag's Leap Wine Cellar's talented team of winemakers and consultants, including winemakers from the Antinori estates in Italy, joint owners of Stag's Leap Wine Cellars. In 2011 Jim joined Seavey Vineyard as Winemaker.
“The warm sunny days and steep vineyards at Seavey Vineyard provide an unique place to make distinctive wines of power and elegance, hallmarks I find in the Seavey wines beginning with our first vintage.”
Jim’s acumen in the vineyard ensures we honor our property’s terroir such that it is represented in the fruit it produces and the wines we craft each year. He lives in Napa with his wife and daughter. As devoted fans of California sunshine, the Duane’s take full advantage of life outdoors; often seen tending their gardens or escaping to the California shoreline.
A native of Bordeaux, Philippe Melka grew up intrigued by the intricacies of the land around him. When it came time for college he acted on his childhood interests, studying geology at the University of Bordeaux. A class in winemaking was a turning point, propelling him to earn a Master’s degree from the school in agronomy and enology. Melka has the rare combination of talent and good fortune to be a top winemaker who started at the top: his first job out of school was at Château Haut Brion. From there, he took a position with the reputable Moueix Company and was sent to Dominus Estate in Yountville to study soils in 1991. Napa Valley soil proved to be a revelation for Melka. After further deepening his expertise with a stint at Dominus sister property Château Petrus in 1993, Melka set out traveling, dividing time between soil study and winemaking at world-renowned wineries Badio O Coltibuono in Chianti and Chittering Estate in Australia. In 1995, he returned to Napa full time, and for the past 15 years, Melka has served as a winemaking consultant for some of Napa’s most highly regarded properties, including Vineyard 29, Hundred Acre, Dana Estates, Gemstone Vineyard and Lail Vineyards. Melka is recognized as one of the wine industry’s leading winemakers: Robert Parker named him one of the world’s nine most important winemakers, while Food & Wine declared him “winemaker of the year” in 2005.
Benjamin Leachman joined Seavey Vineyard during the 2011 Harvest. As both Assistant Winemaker and Vineyard Foreman, he oversees the cultivation of 38 acres of vineyard on our 200-acre estate as well as assists our winemakers in every stage of crafting our wines. Benjamin, a 4th generation California grape-grower, earned his first degree from Occidental College in Biochemistry. He joined RH Phillips winery as their Assistant Winemaker, where he made wine from vineyards throughout Northern California. Benjamin then attended the University of California at Davis and earned both a degree in Viticulture & Enology as well as a masters in Horticulture & Agronomy. Having an eclectic taste in wine, he has made hybrid grape wine at the new UC Davis winery, sparkling wine at Domaine Chandon, and has traveled Alsace and the western wine regions of Germany learning new and traditional techniques.
Music is Benjamin's second passion. The son of a music teacher, he has practiced violin since the age of four. Weekdays he may be found listening to music while working in the barrel room, which has the best acoustics, or on weekends tuning up a string instrument to play with friends.