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Winter / Spring 2006
Napa Sonoma Magazine

 
A Big Thumbs Up, Jan

Clos Pegase’s Jan Shrem celebrates a full and fascinating 75 years

Clos PegaseBy Paul Franson

To mark his birthday this past summer, Jan Shrem, along with his wife, Mitsuko, gave art and wine lovers a gift. The founders of Calistoga’s Clos Pegase Winery created the Clos Pegase Foundation—to manage the winery and expand its art collection. It’s a typically generous move for the vintner and
ex-publishing entrepreneur, whose winery contains one of America’s most remarkable private collections of art.

Jan was born in Lebanon and grew up in an Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem. In 1955, while studying for his master’s degree at UCLA, he spent time in Japan, where he started importing textbooks and reference guides. Soon he was publishing these volumes himself, building an empire of 2,000 employees and 50 offices. Jan indulged himself with a small art gallery on the side, which was where he met Mitsuko. It was she who introduced the former teetotaler to wine. Mitsuko’s family was against their marriage, so the couple eloped and moved to Paris, where Jan started another publishing company, this one focusing on the art that he and Mitsuko loved. The Shrems continued to expand their art collection, and also pursued their other passion—wine. Eventually the couple decided to try their hand at winemaking, and moved to the burgeoning Napa Valley, where they have succeeded in creating yet another successful empire. Clos Pegase wines are internationally acclaimed, and Clos Pegase’s museum-quality art collection features some of the world’s greatest 20th-century works of art.

“Fate gave me a big fortune to make a small one in the wine business,” Jan says. “And I love sharing my success with others.”

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