What’s On My Desk: George Hamel III of Hamel Winery, Sonoma’s Newest Haute Spot

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George Hamel III From Hamel Winery
George Hamel III From Hamel Winery in Sonoma

Ever wonder what the most powerful leaders, business execs and celebrities keep on their desks? Well, we’re about to tell you. Our biweekly “What’s on My Desk” feature will take a look inside the offices and at the desks of the world’s most influential power players.

This week, we feature George Hamel III, the managing director of Hamel Family Wines, one of the most exciting new additions to Sonoma Valley.  Born and raised in San Francisco, George attended Bard College, earning a bachelor’s degree in 2008 and sitting on the Bard’s Board of Governors from 2011 – 2013.  He began his career at Wells Fargo Advisors in New York before heading to Palm Beach.  It wasn’t until 2011 that George’s family raised the prospect of a career shift, to bring his talents back to his hometown and assist in bringing their vision of creating estate-based, terroir-driven wines to life. George currently lives in Sonoma, Calif. and is working towards earning his MBA from Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute.  In his spare time, George serves on the Advisory Board of University of San Francisco’s Institute of Catholic Educational Leadership, pursues his passion for music, and fervently supports the San Francisco Giants, Wisconsin Badgers, San Francisco 49ers and San Jose Sharks.

Hamel Family Ranch is located on the Sonoma Highway at the base of the beautiful Mayacamas Mountain range in an area that showcases varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux inspired blends, Zinfandel and Grenache.  The property, which had primarily been family-owned for 100-plus years, was acquired by George, Jr. and Pam Hamel in 2010 in partnership with their sons, George III and John. The history of family ownership is an important element that resonates deeply with the Hamels’ vision of presenting the winery as a home to its loyal customers and guests. In fact, Hamel Family Wines has partnered with branding and design guru Ken Fulk and his company, Ken Fulk Inc., to curate once-in-a-lifetime experiences for guests of the property, such as dinner in the vineyards with chef Gary Danko, campfire concerts and an outdoor movie series. Hamel Family Wines will be no exception: in addition to producing terroir-inspired wines, the team will incorporate lifestyle, art, fashion, and architecture to complete the vision.The uber cool new winery will be opening mid-June and will start to accept wine tasting reservation starting June 9.

Let’s take a look at some of the items that George keeps nearby to keep his family business going.

George Hammel's Desk
George Hammel’s Desk

George Hamel Desk Name Plate – My late grandfather George Hamel (the original and first) was a Colonel in the Army during his professional career. The desk name plate on my desk was his when he worked at the Pentagon. Since I’m named after him, I’m reminded every day about how special he was, how lucky I was to spend 28 years of my life with him, and how he is the man I admire most in the world. Since I was a youngster, I always asked him for his desk name plate and when I graduated college and started a big boy job at a desk, he gave it to me.

Badger Paper Weight – At Hamel Family Wines, it might seem like my family has a weird obsession with badgers as one graces each of our wine labels. Since taking a liking to badgers is uncommon – friends, colleagues, and wine club members will send me all kinds of badger paraphernalia such as a badger hair shaving brush and Badger Balm for “hardworking hands”. At the entrance to our new Estate House, winery, and wine caves, we commissioned an artist to create a badger to be on display. When the artist delivered it, she also presented my parents, brother John (winemaker), and me with mini bronze badger paper weight. I guess there is no turning back now!

Earth Therapeutics Back Scratcher – Before becoming the managing director of Hamel Family Wines, I worked in the investment business. For some odd reason, I always seem to have itches on my back in very hard to reach places. I would use whatever I could find (pen, ruler, etc.) to get to the annoyance. For Christmas one year, my colleague at my investment firm gave me an actual back scratcher because she was tired of seeing my daily “struggles”. If I’m in a good mood and they ask nicely, I’ll let my dad and brother use it from time to time. Now at Hamel Family Wines, it also doubles as a dog toy for Shiloh, our Chocolate Lab.

Hamel Family Wines Wooden Bottle Opener – Our construction project superintendent always jokes that when he comes to my office, I’m on the phone. Well, this is very true as I spend a lot of my work day on the phone! As I constantly need to be fidgeting with something especially when on the phone, I’m always playing with this bottle opener – opening it up, closing it, repeat.

San Francisco Giants Bobble Heads – As an avid San Francisco Giants fan, I have player bobble heads on my desk that I’ve collected over the years. I have Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, and Ryan Vogelsong. They do get knocked over when my desk gets too crowded so, Ryan is missing an arm and Timmy’s head is barely on, but hopefully this isn’t some form of voodooism!

Rhodia Spiral Pad – Since college, I’ve always used Rhodia notebooks for their durability and the paper is wonderful to write on. Each day gets its own page and I hold on to all of my past notebooks to go back and reference. Since there is so much space to write, I usually have fairly weird spacing for different things going on each work day.

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