New Clairvaux Vineyard
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The Abbey of New Clairvaux
The Abbey of New Clairvaux is a community of Cistercian or "Trappist" monks that was founded in 1955 when the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky sent a group to California to begin a new monastery to relieve overcrowding at the motherhouse.

New Clairvaux's land, history, and people make it an ideal site for 21st Century winemaking. Its Vina location is noted for its deep loam soils and mild climate, which enabled the site to blossom under the ownership of Peter Lassen during California's colonial days, and later as Leland Stanford's Great Vina Ranch, the world's largest vineyard, winery and distillery by 1890.

While we are the first Cistercian winery in the Americas and our order has a strong agricultural and winemaking foundation dating back to the 12th century in Europe. This tradition includes some of the finest vineyards in the world, such as Clos Vougeot in Burgundy and Kloster Eberbach in the Rheingau. Our vision is no less dedicated here.


Winemaker / Poor Souls Vineyard Manager
Aimée Sunseri has been an integral part of New Clairvaux Vineyard since rolling up her sleeves with our first plantings in 2000. After graduating from the University of California at Davis with honors in Viticulture and Enology, she began to prepare for New Clairvaux’s first “crush,” relying on years of field experience at her family's wineries, Nichelini Winery in St. Helena and Boeger Winery in Placerville. As a fifth generation Californian winemaker, Aimée continues to work for both New Clairvaux Vineyard and Nichelini Family Winery as winemaker.

St. James Vineyard Manager
Brother Rafael came to the Abbey of New Clairvaux in 1997 from Ecuador. His interests in farming and dedication to viticulture led him to become the St. James Vineyard Manager. Since St. James is the larger of the two vineyards, Br. Rafael plays an essential role in the quality of our wines—growing clean, balanced fruit each year.

Cellar Manager
Kathy Pain has worked for the monastery since 1996. Four years later she was given the task of training the St. James Vineyard, and joined in on the efforts of our first crush in 2003. Today her keen eye for detail and organization make her the ideal cellar manager for New Clairvaux Vineyard.
New Clairvaux Vineyard