Jerry and Flora Komes
Nearly 40 years have passed since our founders, Jerry and Flora Komes first stepped foot on to the historic Flora Springs estate in search of a place to "kick off their boots."
President & Proprietor
While John Komes will say that hard work and a stellar team are the keys to the longtime success of Flora Springs, first-hand interaction with John hints that the secret ingredient to Flora Springs' success is his charisma. John is a laugh-out-loud kind of guy, who when he smiles, his eyes dance. He teases, he jokes, he holds court in any group situation, and makes everyone in his midst feel like a member of the Flora Springs family. Yet underneath this convivial exterior is a hardworking tenacity and an enduring passion for wine.
Growing up in San Francisco in the mid-1950s, John was the son of the president of construction giant Bechtel Corporation. He graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Business Administration and followed in his father's footsteps in business, building a thriving construction business of his own in the East Bay of San Francisco. John’s interest in wine began as a hobby in the early 1970's when his wife Carrie sent him to a wine appreciation class as a gift. Wine soon became an obsession, and he attended more and more classes. It wasn't long before he was making his own wine at home as a hobby.
In 1977 John’s father and mother, Jerry and Flora Komes, retired to the Napa Valley and purchased a home that included an abandoned stone winery and vineyards. The potential of the property piqued John's interest and fueled a dream of owning his own winery in Napa Valley someday. In 1978 he took the leap and established Flora Springs with his parents, his sister, Julie Garvey, and his brother-in-law, Pat Garvey.
John eventually moved his construction business to Napa, using his enterprising ingenuity to specialize in building and renovating wineries. He also painstakingly renovated each winery building on the Flora Springs property, turning the two abandoned cellars into separate winery facilities and supervising the construction of 1,000 linear feet of wine caves. As Flora Springs took root, John left construction to devote himself full-time to the winery, overseeing production, sales and marketing. While he is quick to share the credit, it is under his watch that Flora Springs has become one of the most respected and beloved family-owned wineries in Napa Valley, producing a portfolio of wines that consistently garner critical acclaim.
Today, John sees a bright future for Flora Springs as he gears up to let the next generation – including his son Nat Komes, General Manager, and nephew Sean Garvey, Vineyard Manager -- take the lead. He’s also excited about the new wine project he shares with Nat called Jon Nathaniel Wines. A boutique portfolio of wines made entirely from fruit grown in John’s own vineyards, Jon Nathaniel is John’s way of recapturing the passion that brought him to winegrowing in the first place. “My dream has always been to sit on my front porch and taste wines with friends, family and customers. With Jon Nathaniel I’m returning to those roots.”
Julie Komes Garvey
If there’s one thing that Julie Komes Garvey has in common with her brother, John Komes, and their mother, the late Flora Komes, it’s an infectious charisma and genuine joie-de-vivre. As a proprietor of Flora Springs, Julie’s involvement in Flora Springs is no longer day-to-day, yet her contribution to the winery and to the Napa Valley community at large is both remarkable and historical.
As one of the founders of Flora Springs – along with John, Flora, their father Jerry and Julie’s husband Pat Garvey – Julie worked side by side with John and Pat in the vineyards to create the first vintages of Flora Springs. “The first harvest I was pregnant with Sean and gave birth two weeks later, so I was definitely the slowest harvester," Julie remembers fondly. Evidently it didn't affect the quality of the wine: Flora Springs’ inaugural Chardonnay won a gold medal (out of only three awarded that year) at the Los Angeles Country Fair.
Success in harvesting aside, Julie eventually left the vineyards to Pat and focused on growing the Flora Springs brand with John in a home office and little more than a telephone. "When John asked me to oversee marketing for the winery, he clearly had forgotten all the boxes of Girl Scout cookies our family had to eat because I couldn’t sell them," she laughs.
Nevertheless, Flora Springs became a success, and Julie's marketing efforts eventually extended beyond the winery. Soon after the inaugural release of Flora Springs' signature Bordeaux blend, Trilogy, Julie and a group of vintners founded the Meritage Association which helped boost the international reputation of American Bordeaux-style blends. She also served as a founding board member and Legislative Chair of Women for WineSense, which advocated for the moderate consumption of alcohol and accurate information regarding the health benefits of wine.
With a teaching credential and degree in history from Santa Clara University, Julie has also been active in the field of education. She was elected trustee and president of the St. Helena Unified School District and served on an oversight committee charged with ensuring the proper expenditure of proceeds from a school bond.
In 2002, Julie chose to leave her role at Flora Springs to pursue a career in spiritual direction.
After completing her diploma in spiritual direction from the San Francisco Theological Seminary in 2005 she went on to receive a Masters in Theological Studies from the Franciscan School of Theology. Currently, she works as a spiritual director and teacher, dividing her time between counseling, teaching and leading retreats. Today, Julie has a less prominent role at Flora Springs, but as her brother John likes to joke, “She may have left the winery, but she's still in the spirits business!"
When Nat Komes was a youngster growing up on the Flora Springs Estate, one of his favorite activities was riding bikes through the vineyards with his brother Otto, pedaling to the nearby town of St. Helena to buy candy bars. While those days are long gone, Nat doesn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the past. As general manager of Flora Springs he’s too busy filling the “big shoes” of those who founded the winery and whose hard work and dedication have made it such a success – his father John, his Aunt Julie, their spouses, and of course the winery’s namesake, Nat’s “Grandma Flo.”
When he went away to college at the University of the Pacific Nat realized how lucky he was to grow up in Napa Valley. He missed the beauty and the small town atmosphere, and in his sophomore year determined that he would return to St. Helena after graduation. He quickly put his marketing savvy to work, helping to craft and communicate the story of Flora Springs and applying an artistic sensibility to the creation of new wines, labels and packaging. Nat most enjoys the creative side of the wine business; he oversaw the complete re-development of Flora Springs’ labels and packaging and has been the driving force behind dozens of innovative new products including the popular Ghost Winery and All Hallows’ Eve series. With responsibility for the winery’s direct-to-consumer business, Nat also enjoys creating special events and experiences that truly represent his family.
Nat is a member of Flora Springs’ Board of Directors and relishes the opportunity to represent the family and help steer the future direction of the winery. He is also deeply involved in a new wine venture, Jon Nathaniel Wines, a boutique portfolio of wines created by Nat and his father John. Jon Nathaniel Wines are made entirely of fruit grown in the Komes’ own vineyards.
Nat and his wife Anne live in St. Helena with their two children.
Vineyard Director & Proprietor
In 1978, Pat Garvey traded his Master's Degree in Psychology and Counseling from the University of Santa Clara for a tractor - and the opportunity to launch a world-class Napa Valley winery with his wife, Julie Garvey, and his brother-in-law John Komes. While Flora Springs started as a fledgling family business nearly four decades ago, today the Komes and Garvey families own and manage more vineyard acres - over 600 in all - than most family-owned vintners in Napa Valley. All of them are overseen by Pat and his team.
As Vineyard Director for Flora Springs since its inception, Pat has proven to be an innovator as well as a meticulous farmer with a strong commitment to environmental stewardship. Under his watch, over half of Flora Springs’ vineyard acreage in Napa Valley has been certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers, and 100% of our vineyards are farmed sustainably, using practices such as composting and cover crops to enrich the soil and provide habitat for beneficial insects.
Pat has also been a leader in new vineyard practices and techniques in the areas of trellising systems, canopy management, rootstock and clonal selection and night harvesting. “At one point universities were largely responsible for making new discoveries and dictating what was best in viticulture,” he says. “But changes in viticulture have happened so rapidly and dramatically; the responsibility to experiment and innovate lies just as much with individual wineries.” In one example, he and his team spent seven years testing the performance of 15 different rootstocks throughout Flora Springs’ vineyards.
Pat is also deeply committed to the vitality and welfare of the Napa Valley community. He was instrumental in establishing the Oakville and Rutherford appellations in the 1980s and 1990s, and served on the Board of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers for many years and as its president from 1992-1994. He also serves on the Napa County Housing Commission and is one of the founders of Cinco de Mayo Golf Classic, Inc., which raises funds for migrant farmworker housing centers in the Napa Valley. For his accomplishments and dedication to Napa Valley, Pat was the recipient of the prestigious Napa Valley Grower of the Year award in 2012.
Today, with Pat’s son Sean serving as Vineyard Manager at Flora Springs, Pat finds himself wearing a mentor's shoes as well. "It's flattering to know Sean made the choice to work with us," he says. “Farming is a long term business, and it’s gratifying to see the next generation taking an interest.”
As a third generation family member, Sean Garvey has worked in nearly every aspect of wine and grape growing for Flora Springs. Now, as Vineyard Manager, he feels he has come full circle. "At an early age all I wanted to do was drive on the tractor with my dad,” says Sean, who manages Flora Springs’ 300+ acres of Napa Valley vineyards alongside his father, Vineyard Director and Proprietor Pat Garvey. For Sean, stepping into the shoes his father once occupied felt comfortable. "I'm not a 'sit-behind-a-desk-for-8-hours’ kind of guy. I love being in the field, working with the crew, and coming to understand the individual personality and needs of our vineyards. I've always had an affinity for the land and a connection to the soul of this valley."
Sean believes he inherits this sensibility from his grandmother, Flora. He explains that in Hawaii, where she is from, people are naturally connected to their landscape. “When they give directions, it's never east or west. They say, 'Drive towards Diamond Head Peak, or turn towards the ocean!'"
There is an art to fine winemaking and so perhaps it is no coincidence that a deep vein of artistic creativity runs through the Flora Springs family. Sean is a talented musician and songwriter who has recorded two albums; his band Obsidian Son plays throughout Northern California. He credits his older cousin Nat (General Manager of Flora Springs) for introducing him to a broad selection of artists and shaping his early musical interests. Sean began playing guitar in high school but it wasn't until college (he studied creative writing and international studies at Cal Poly) that his musical career took off as he began writing and performing his own songs.
Today, Sean lives in Napa with his wife, Lindsay Garvey, an exceptional artist in her own right (she manages her own photography business) and their 2 children, Graham and Sabine.