The Dreambuilder | Meet Seven Apart’s Managing Partner Yannick Girardo


• Someone who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty (or quite literally stained purple when it comes to winemaking).
• At the same time, this individual must also exude effortless charm in a crisp suit, skillfully navigate diverse clientele, and possess the expertise to open a bottle of Cabernet while simultaneously explaining the terroir from which it was made.
• They also need to connect with the team on a human level, fostering loyalty and genuine camaraderie.

Sound like the dream employee? That’s because it is. Someone you can confidently entrust with the reins, knowing they’ll guide the company to greater heights, not ride it off into oblivion. At Seven Apart, we’re fortunate to have this very person in our Managing Partner, Yannick Girardo. Whether you know him as a jack-of-all-trades, a man of many hats, or simply as the heartbeat of Seven Apart, Yannick is the cornerstone of our winery’s success. As part of the team since its inception, it’s with no further ado that we introduce him.

Nice Beginnings

A native of France, Yannick was born and raised in the postcard-perfect town of Nice along the French Riviera. “I’m French by birth, Italian by blood. My father’s side is from Cuneo, Italy, and even my mom’s grandparents were Italian,” opens Yannick. “Perhaps this blend of French finesse and Italian passion for gastronomy inevitably guided me towards a career that celebrated both,” he muses.
With a head and heart for hospitality, Yannick’s first job was working in prestigious locations such as the Hotel de Paris and The Monte Carlo Beach Hotel in Monaco. Soon, his quest for broader experiences took him across the Atlantic to the United States in 2002, where he honed his skills in a French restaurant in Houston, Texas. The journey continued with an adventurous stint in French Polynesia, managing service on a yacht. “Navigating through the islands of French Polynesia refined my skills in luxury hospitality and deepened my love for unique culinary experiences,” Yannick recounts.
Returning to the U.S., Yannick’s path took him to Tulsa University, followed by a pivotal move to New York City where he joined Restaurant Daniel as Assistant General Manager. “New York was a rigorous test of my abilities and helped solidify my management style,” he says. In 2011, life’s currents steered him to Napa Valley, where he initially managed the Food & Beverage department at Auberge du Soleil, eventually getting his first sip of the wine industry at Grgich Hills Estate. “After all those years in Napa, the wine calling happened,” he laughs.
At Grgich Hills, Yannick worked his way from Hospitality Manager to Director of DTC & Marketing. “My years at Grgich Hills were transformative, offering me a deep dive into the wine industry and preparing me for the next chapter of my career,” he shares.

The Next Chapter

As all great stories go, Yannick begins: “One day, a friend called.” His long-time friend explained that he was working on a project with Seven Apart founder Don and invited him to meet for a chat. “I initially declined to meet with Don, but my persistent friend (to whom I’m forever grateful) convinced me to share just a coffee with him.”
That coffee meeting unfolded into something larger than Yannick had anticipated. Captivated by Don’s vision and the raw potential of a large dirt plot that would soon transform into a thriving vineyard, Yannick found the lure of building something from the ground up irresistible. In 2019, he made the leap, leaving Grgich Hills to oversee the fledgling brand’s day-to-day operations as General Manager at Seven Apart.
His dedication and alignment with Don’s vision swiftly propelled him into a deeper role. “After three years of intense collaboration and the successful launch of Seven Apart, Don offered me a partnership. I am forever grateful to him for allowing me to accomplish his dreams and giving me the chance to dream myself as well,” Yannick shares.

A Day In The Life

These days, a typical day for Yannick involves “a mix of everything (aside from making the actual wine).” From hosting guests at the estate and managing logistics for wine shipments to traveling for private events and supporting markets in five states, no two days are alike. He is deeply involved in every phase of production, participating in blending sessions, strategizing with the winemaking team about upcoming bottlings, and planning the vineyard’s growing seasons with his team. “We’re constantly aligning our strategies to enhance the visibility and messaging of Seven Apart,” he says.
Weekly meetings with co-founder Don and the marketing team ensure that the winery’s operations are seamless and its narrative resonant. Even amid these tasks, Yannick finds time to personally greet and get to know the visitors to the estate. “I love to meet everyone that will be visiting our estate and get a chance to know them,” he shares. Behind the scenes, his days are also filled with essential administrative work and diligent follow-ups, ensuring the winery operates without a hitch. Yannick credits his team for the smooth operation, noting, “The dedication and passion of our team are vital. Their support and camaraderie drive our success and keep us moving forward.”
Of course, building a winery and brand from the ground up is not without its fair share of challenges. “Yes, there have been a few curveballs and learning steps that we had to deal with,” he says. One such instance involved obtaining permits for an extension to the hospitality building. Understanding complex regulations, like water use restrictions and erosion control measures, presented unforeseen challenges. “Learning the process of implementing a vineyard as we did on Base Camp was an exciting journey,” Yannick explains. He describes collaborating with geologists to identify suitable rootstock and with engineers to ensure proper erosion control plans—all crucial steps for a thriving vineyard.
Perhaps the most significant challenge arose in 2020. Just after completing the production building, Napa County instituted a near-total lockdown due to the pandemic. This delayed crucial inspections and pushed back construction of the hospitality building by a year. Launching a new winery in such a competitive landscape presented another hurdle. “Raising awareness and throwing ourselves in the mix of a well-established industry is a challenge of its own,” Yannick acknowledges. As if that weren’t enough, wildfires later that year added another layer of complexity. “We experienced a lot over the course of the last five years,” Yannick reflects, “but if anything, that made us more resilient.”

There’s Still A Lot Of Work To Be Done

Looking ahead, Yannick emphasizes education and awareness as key to Seven Apart’s future. “We are so new,” he acknowledges, “there’s a lot of work to be done.” According to Yannick, the secret to success is the team. “We are a tight team,” Yannick explains, emphasizing the communal spirit that propels the winery.
“I work closely with winemaker Morgan. His passion and attention to detail are unparalleled. Jorge, another key team member and Cellar Master, has been with Seven Apart from the start. Our estate ambassadors, Juliana and Catie, who have been with us for two and one year, respectively, along with Lee Ann, who manages our accounting, and Augustin, our landscaper, complete our core team. You might start seeing a pattern here, there are seven of us on site!”
Yannick also recognizes the evolving consumer landscape and the need to stay engaged with their audience beyond the winery. One exciting possibility is hosting intimate wine dinner events, both at the estate and at members’ homes. These gatherings will provide a platform to showcase Seven Apart’s maturing vintages in a unique way. Reflecting on his contributions to Seven Apart, Yannick beams with pride. “Building and launching a brand from A to Z has been an amazing experience,” he says. The opportunity to share Seven Apart’s story and wines with new guests is a constant source of satisfaction for him.

I’ll Drink To That

Away from the vineyards, Yannick cherishes his downtime, which he spends surrounded by family. “I love to spend time with my wife and kids, attending their sports activities and enjoying our moments together as they grow,” he shares. Balancing his family life with personal health, he stays active, often playing basketball with his children to keep fit.
As for the future, Yannick is ambitious, both for his family and Seven Apart. “I would like to see Seven Apart recognized as an iconic name globally,” he says, envisioning a future where Seven Apart’s wines are celebrated worldwide. He dreams of a balanced life between his native French Riviera and Napa, reflecting, “Wouldn’t it be nice to spend 6 months a year on the French Riviera and 6 months in Napa? I will definitely drink to that.”