A brief history
"My feeling as to why I do it is this: one, I like physical work; and two, I can literally say that I touched every bottle in some way." ~ Stu Lerner
As a major wood pallet vendor to Napa Valley and Sonoma County for over four decades, Stu enjoyed a career as an important player in the wine industry supply chain. His connections with such wineries as Silver Oak and Robert Mondavi, including the iconic Opus One, put him in the unique position of being both a purveyor and a collector. Once retired from his successful business in 2014, Stu's attention shifted in a different, but related, direction. In the process of amassing a collection of some of the most sought-after wines ever produced in Napa Valley, Karen recalls him saying many times that if he ever made a wine, it would have to be something he'd also want to buy himself. It's hard, demanding work – the opposite of retirement. But, being a hands-on kind of guy, he wouldn't change anything about the artisan nature of Lerner Project.
"When I think of our wine journey over the years, it's about memories," says Karen Lerner. "We have scrapbooks of pictures—not only of wine-tasting in Napa Valley, but for the tastings we've done in our travels," Now, with Lerner Project off the ground, the focus is very much back on Napa Valley. As she describes it, "This is all about sharing that journey with our friends and our family." Her Italian heritage means that wine has always been a part of meals and gatherings, maintaining the notion that wine is best when shared with friends.
Karen's professional journey with her husband goes back many years through her detailed involvement in their past business. For the couple's newer foray in Napa Valley, she is continuing that tradition, applying her wide range of skills to cultivate the brand.