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Meet Billa Donaldson: Yountville Real Estate Professional

Billa Donaldson, of the prestigious real estate firm Engel & Völkers, is an accomplished professional with more than 30 years of experience in the food and wine industry, and expertise in strategic marketing that seamlessly align with the real estate industry. Billa has lived in the Napa Valley for more than two decades, garnering her expertise with companies including Allied Domecq, Beringer Wine Estates, and Domaine Chandon/LVMH before joining the Napa team at Engel & Völkers.  We recently sat down with Billa to ask about her life and career and why she thinks being a member of the Yountville Chamber of Commerce is important to her business.

Briefly describe your work history and what brought you to Napa?

Born and raised in Australia, I received my degree in economics and finance from the University of New South Wales, followed by a Masters of Marketing. After 10 years working in financial markets and developing corporate relationships with top 500 companies in Australia trading bonds, foreign exchange and short-term money markets, an opportunity presented itself to join my former husband in the Napa Valley. I jumped at the chance!

Since arriving here more than 2 decades ago, I’ve worked at all levels of the wine industry: retail consulting, wholesale distribution, and marketing. I’ve worked on Wine Australia’s marketing efforts and for 6 years, served as lead volunteer on Auction Napa Valley’s live auction lot displays.  I’ve worked on direct-to-consumer initiatives as well as in sales & marketing roles for small wineries including Hestan, Trinitas, Deerfield Ranch Winery, and BR Cohn among others.

How long have you been in business in Napa County?

I have been in Napa for 23 years and in the wine industry for 31, initially working for corporate wine companies Beringer, Treasury Estates and Allied Domecq in marketing roles and then with smaller wine companies focusing on the direct-to-consumer business. I have worked for myself since 2005.

Can you describe your business? What do you do and how do you do it?

My business with Engel & Völkers is about offering a thoughtful and constructive approach to provide real estate solutions for my clients, whether residential or commercial. The key to my success is listening to the client and understanding their wants, desires and needs in order to provide the best results. My aim is to ensure the client is exceptionally happy with the outcome and will work with me again or sit happily in their forever home, remembering my role in playing a part in their decision. In business, it’s about realizing a client’s strategic goals.

Can you talk about when/why you made the decision to go into your current career? Was there a specific defining moment or realization? 

One of the wineries that I had been working with for years on sales and marketing asked for my help in finding a buyer for their business which prompted me to change my professional focus. I got my real estate license February 2021. Sales and marketing have been both a passion and forte of mine since I was fifteen years old and on many occasions, I’ve been the most outstanding sales person on the team. While I am new in the real estate landscape, I expect this trait to continue as I build my business with Engel & Völkers.

Why do you do what you do?

I enjoy the business aspect of real estate. Finding the right options for a client, whether buyer or seller, and delivering it to them while providing hands on service is extremely satisfying. I am a lateral thinker which results in coming up with great solutions when they do not seem apparent or possible.

Why do you feel it is important to be a member of the Yountville Chamber?

I believe in investing in my community and supporting efforts to help it succeed. I have always been involved with community and that includes the Yarra Valley Wine Growers’ Association (Australia), Wine Australia, The Young School, St Helena School District, Sonoma Academy and Ole Health, among many others.

I also believe that Yountville Chamber’s business programs under the management of CEO/President Whitney Diver McEvoy is an excellent forum for my business outreach.

What is the biggest challenge in your job? 

Entering a popular profession such as real estate in these uncertain economic times will certainly present some challenges. The market might seem crowded, but I enjoy a challenge and have a vast network of contacts and a passion for what I do. I am excited about this next chapter in my career!

What are the biggest rewards?

Finding clients that are overwhelmed with happiness following a sale, who then become lifelong friends and associates is a tremendous reward!

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out their career?

It is not just one piece of advice- study, learn, listen – enjoy what you do and if you don’t – pivot! It’s okay to change direction!

What are your favorite things to do in Napa Valley when you are not working?

I love to cook, enjoy time with friends, play golf and am currently training for a half marathon. Of course, spending time with my children is one of my favorite activities.

What are three words that describe you?

Intelligent, engaging, considerate.

What is your personal motto? 

Never an ordinary day!


Learn more about Billa

Contact Billa  (707) 803-0203