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
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.