The Future of Burgundy
After a nine year search for a place to make fine wine in France, the Carabello-Baum family, from San Francisco, became the new guardians of Château de Pommard.
Far from the fast-paced, technological drum beat of Silicon Valley, Pommard is a new home for the family to reconnect with nature and fall in love with life. With ambitions for the future swiftly becoming reality, the fifth family of Château de Pommard are on a quest to expand the domain’s full potential...and they can’t wait to share it with the world.
Of all the eminent and original personalities that have called Château de Pommard home, it is the Carabello-Baum family who truly define the modern sense of vitality and passion established by 18th century entrepreneur Vivant Micault.
Carabello-Baum: The San Franciscan family are Francophiles too
With wife Julie and twin sons Zachary and Jackson by his side, Michael Baum emerged in the new millennium as a respected Silicon Valley innovator, entrepreneur, technology investor and philanthropist, a pioneer of the Big Data revolution, one of the most influential technological advancements of the 21st century.
But when Michael isn't founding a new company, or investing in a new project, or learning to play the guitar, he's thinking about wine and how to transform Château de Pommard into something that transcends a Burgundy winery, but also retains its core values and deep Burgundian roots. It's a puzzle that keeps Michael busy.
Having dreamed of making beautiful wines somewhere with renowned terroir for almost 20 years, it wasn't until Michael and Julie first tasted the wines of the Côte d'Or that Burgundy called out to him. “We never imagined our French obsession would lead us to Burgundy," Michael said. "Let alone in Pommard, one of the most revered wine-making villages in the world."
It was the wine that attracted Michael the most to Château de Pommard, but he was also fascinated by the entrepreneurial nature of the Burgundian people. “Burgundians, like Californians, are incredibly passionate and innovative in the face of many challenges," he observed. "They know what it means to work really hard. Their spirit is unbreakable and they are committed to being the very best in the world at what they do. The families of Pommard successively built this remarkable Clos and these beautiful edifices and it is humbling to now walk among their creations.”
Rebooting the World: Michael speaks at StartupFest 2013
“Our hearts are now full of joy as we become the fifth family in 300 years to tend to Château de Pommard. As stewards of this remarkable terroir, we are moving the Château forward with our embrace of biodynamics in the Clos and the cuverié, new plantings in the Clos, planning a new state of the art winery, continuing to elevate our team, and most importantly, to continue celebrating and sharing our passion for life, nature and family. At Château de Pommard, we have opened our hearts to the people of Pommard, the people of Burgundy, and the people of the world.”
Michael Baum, Famille Carabello-Baum
To celebrate the start of their Burgundy adventure and to declare their arrival with a vitality that would have made Vivant Micault proud, the Carabello-Baum hosted a large garden party on the estate in November 2014.
Two Generations: Michael with sons, Zachary and Jackson in Clos Marey-Monge
In an emotional speech, Michael announced to the 200-strong audience, comprising many of Burgundy's most revered winemakers and traders, movers and shakers:
"I want to have a real partnership with the people of Pommard, and I want them to
feel at home here."
It has been a busy first two years under the Carabello-Baum stewardship. Knowing that the path to beautiful wines start with a well-cared for vineyard, the family first focused on the health and legacy of Clos Marey-Monge as well as the climats of Burgundy.
In early 2015, one of the first tasks ticked off the To Do List was to assist the 1,724 climats of Burgundy’s vineyards attain the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage status for Humanity for their Exceptional Universal Value. As a Grand Sponsor of this high honor, the Carabello-Baum family were proud to have played their part, along with other great Burgundy domaines, in securing such an accolade in their first year operating in Pommard. "We are tremendously proud for all the people of Burgundy that together we have achieved this amazing feat. UNESCO will help attract additional epicureans from around the world to visit this very special place on earth," said Michael Baum to celebrate the achievement.
UNESCO: Michael with Aubert de Villaine, manager of the Romanée-Conti estate
More progress and positive results from the Carabello-Baum’s winemaking ambitions begin to show throughout 2015 and 2016. In March 2016, The World of Fine Wine, reviewed the Carabello-Baum family’s first vintage – Clos Marey-Monge Monopole 2014 – scoring it 91/100. “From his intimate knowledge of the many parcels on the property, winemaker Emmanuel crafts a very complex and compelling expression of it,” concluded wine authority, Neil Beckett. This was followed quickly by bronze and silver certificates, respectively, for the Clos Marey-Monge 2012 and 2013 vintages at the 2016 Decanter World Wine Awards as well as noted wine authorities James Suckling and Tim Aitken praising Clos Marey Monge 2014 and 2015, with scores of 91 and 4/5 respectively.
The year 2016 was capped off with even more awards and recognition. The Global Pinot Noir Masters 2017, which is part of The Drinks Business magazine, recognize and reward the best Pinot Noirs in the world announced that out of more than 200 wines presented to them in 2016 Château de Pommard has received the highest possible qualification: the Master Medal. Both Clos Marey-Monge 2013 and Clos Marey-Monge 2014 were awarded with this honor, reserved only for wines that score above 95 /100. This was a major achievement for the Carabello-Baum family in their first and second year of production. We expect many more to follow in 2017 and beyond...
Indeed, it is the family’s thirst for innovation, technology and passion that inspired the next, most vital, phase of Clos Marey-Monge’s future – biodynamic viticulture. In collaboration with oenologist and agronomic specialist, Antoine Lepetit de la Bigne, Emmanuel Sala and Michael Baum begun the conversion to biodynamic agriculture early in 2016, a move that will assure the Clos’s long-term prosperity. As Michael announced: “When we complete the conversion of all 20 hectares, in 2019, Clos Marey-Monge will be a beacon for biodynamic winemaking. Eliminating chemical influences and raising the vines in conjunction with nature is the best way to elevate the terroir and let mother nature do all the talking. Both Emmanuel and I shared the same dream: to transform the largest single-owned Clos in Burgundy into a sustainable and biodynamic ecosystem in harmony with the laws of nature and with the potential to produce some of the most elegant wines in the world.”
Harvest 2016: Michael and Emmanuel talk biodynamics in Chantrerie
Outside of Clos Marey-Monge, Michael is proactiely pursuing progress and purpose all around the estate. His desire is to not miss a beat when it comes to realizing Pommard's full potential.
As we entered into our 291st year (2017), Michael Baum and Emmanuel Sala and ordered a comprehensive geological study and history of Clos Marey-Monge's soils and subsoils and analysis of the vineyard's ancient formation. The study took Clos Marey-Monge 150 million years back in time to the Jurassic Age, when a shallow tropical sea covered the land. As a result, today, we can identify 10 diverse soil types in the vineyard and how they were formed. By checking the pulse of the land in such a way, the Carabello-Baum family have gained even more, and even better, insights into how they can protect and maintain the soils for future generations.
With 2017 set to be the most exciting, and most challenging, year on record for Château de Pommard, it's clear that the new investment and innovation deployed by the Carabello-Baum family has worked wonders and will keep on doing so for many years to come.
Winemaking In Progress: The new and improved cuverie is on its way in 2017
With a modern cuverie, new bottle design, new branding, new website, new Welcome Lounge, new public tasting room, new wine experiences and new frame of mind all ready to be rolled out in the new season, the future of Château de Pommard can't come soon enough. But, as we know in the winemaking business, good things come to those who wait.
High Visibility: Michael looks to the future as he oversees the estate renovations
“When we find something we love like wine and Burgundy, my family like to get involved locally. Following a year of living in France, we have fallen even more deeply in love with the country, the heritage and the terroir.”
Michael Baum, Famille Carabello-Baum
As guardians of this remarkable terroir, the Carabello-Baum family are catapulting Château de Pommard further into the modern winemaking world, a place powered by mother nature but assisted by technology and innovation. Their ambition, in order to preserve Pommard for future generations, is to fuse the two so that they are not competing or battling against each other, rather working together in harmony.
Brothers In Pommard: Albert Bichot and Michael join the Bailliage of Pommard fraternity in January 2017