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Ever since Jean-Charles Boisset and Gina Gallo married last September in what San Francisco Magazine termed "the hottest American-European union since Grace Kelly married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco," the two Sonoma County-based winemakers and wine-family heirs haven't let love get in the way of their work. Quite the opposite.

Instead, personal happiness seems to be driving each to new heights of wine quality and visibility. The most striking example is Boisset's just-opened Taste of Terroir, an imaginative new tasting salon on the Healdsburg Plaza located, ironically, in a tasting-room space previously used by Gallo Family wines.

"I've always wanted to have an educational location in California which would be in a small town, so Healdsburg is perfect," said Boisset. "Where Sonoma meets Burgundy."

Surprisingly, Boisset found out the space was available by happenstance, not through family ties.

"I was there by accident on a Saturday speaking to the general manager and he told me they were leaving, which I didn't even know from my own wife," Boisset said with a laugh. "Our relationship is established on other things than wine except we talk a lot about wine as far as quality and style and terroir, and Gina is becoming a very strong fan of Burgundy as well. She doesn't have a choice."

Raised in Vougeot, France, Boisset grew up in Burgundy among the vineyards of the Cote de Nuits wine region and began working in the family wine business as a teenager. He now spearheads his family's myriad enological interests around the world, particularly in North America, and has helped turn Boisset Family Estates into France's third-largest wine company today.

His parents, Jean-Claude and Claudine Boisset, started building their collection of wineries in 1961. Their brands include some of the finest names in Burgundy — Domaine de la Vougeraie and Jean-Claude Boisset in Nuits Saint Georges, Jaffelin and Bouchard Aine & Fils in Beaune, J.Moreau & Fils in Chablis and others.

Boisset led his family's acquisition of DeLoach Vineyards in the Russian River Valley in 2004. Last year, he bought historic Raymond Vineyards in the Napa Valley.

At the new Taste of Terroir, many of these wines are offered in one chic and elegant salon, giving visitors a rare opportunity to try pinots and chardonnays from two very different terroirs in one place.

"We wanted to create a place showing people the best of both worlds, where you can sit and take the time to enjoy and learn the essence of wine not in a rushed way," he explained. "Every element of its design is bringing in a way to enjoy wine with all five senses."

The design team behind the stylish space, given the mandate to create a "French flair meets California wine-country style" theme, includes interior designer Nicole Hollis, Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects and D'Anjou and Christophe Dubois, who created custom barware to compliment the Champagne flutes, chillers and spit buckets designed personally by Boisset.

Philippe Starck ghost chairs assemble around a custom-made, marble-top communal table beneath a Marie Antoinette chandelier made by Bisazza, an Italian glass mosaic producer.

It is from this charmed setting that tasters may enjoy 25 French wines, including such current gems as an Echezeaux Grand Cru 2005 or Clos du Roi 1er Cru, and 11 California selections, mostly from DeLoach Vineyards but also from Boisset's own JCB Collection, featuring wines from three different Northern California appellations, including the Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Mendocino Ridge.

Boisset says that when he first came to the Napa Valley in 1981 at the tender age of 11, he was immediately and permanently struck by its sense of terroir, or place. He felt similarly about Sonoma County as he got deeper into the world of wine, saying that he and his family had decided years ago that beyond the chardonnays and the pinots of Burgundy, Sonoma County was the best.

"I fell in love with it," he recalled. "I said to my sister, let's make sure one day we come back."

Meanwhile, his future wife was already learning the winemaking ropes in California as the daughter of Robert J. Gallo and granddaughter of Julio Gallo. She eventually became a third-generation winemaker at the winery co-founded by Ernest and Julio Gallo, today the world's second-biggest wine company.

Taste of Terroir is the logical culmination of Boisset's many passions, based as it is, in his wife's long-time hometown. The Healdsburg square reminds him of Europe's many "places de village" and he sees the town as the cradle of the Russian River, an ideal spot from which to engage people.

It is also an ideal showcase for Boisset's larger interest in environmental causes, from his commitment to organic and biodynamic vineyards to alternative packaging made from recycling friendly materials. To that end, Boisset makes French Rabbit, a line of French wines in Tetra Pak containers, and Yellow Jersey, pinot noir and sauvignon blanc in PET plastic bottles, as well as Mommessin Beaujolais, which comes in a 750-millileter aluminum wine bottle.

At Taste of Terroir, he is also offering consumers the chance to buy a miniature wine barrel with a tap and vacuum-sealed bag of wine, a program he has offered to restaurants for some time called DeLoach Vineyards Barrel to Barrel. The bag eliminates air as the wine is dispensed, keeping it fresh, and the barrel can be refilled with replacement eco-bags of wine.

"I am thrilled about that. We've sold a lot of them already," he said. "It's a beautiful little barrel, all made in France by coopers that is 400-percent French oak, new. It's very sexy."

His enthusiasm has a way of making friends. Boisset's forays into California long caused his countrymen back in Burgundy to scratch their heads, wondering what this scion of such a prominent winemaking family was doing trying to make pinot and chardonnay in Sonoma. But Boisset says this attitude is changing, that he sees his friends back home increasingly impressed with the wines they've had from here.

"People were really questioning what are you doing there?" he explained. "I really have engaged them into what's happening here. We never wanted to make DeLoach a copy of Burgundy; the goal is to make DeLoach an inspiring Russian River wine. They taste different but complement one another. We are not trying to copy one another. That's the beauty of it."

Boisset is also very involved in raising money and awareness for the Redwood Empire Food Bank, for which he has created Vinthropic, a DeLoach chardonnay in which 100 percent of the proceeds go to fight hunger. It is an issue of concern he shares with Gallo, who herself sits on the board of directors of Hunger Related Events, a national charity devoted to the same cause.

Virginie Boone is a freelance wine writer based in Sonoma County. She can be reached at virginieboone@yahoo.com or visit wineabout.blogs. pressdemocrat.com.