The Human Side Of Winemaking
We have a need to just be human in this very digital age, to reconnect with what is real. To hear a story told in an authentic voice. It is the tactile, the analogue, and the acoustic that touch us. It is also the artisanal.
Winegrowing is at the crossroads of nature and culture. It is a balance between the imagination of the craftsman and the wisdom of the grower. Working with what Mother Nature gives us, we celebrate the vintage and the variations that come with each one.
We err on the human side of winemaking.
Who We Are
My story starts in 1972. I was five. My father and mother bought two motels that year on the California central coast; El Patio Motel and The Wayside Motel.
I am a native Californian who grew up with birthdays and summer parties at the motel pool. Guests would join in, dad would barbecue, and I would help.
These were the seeds of food, wine, and hospitality.
This childhood led to a college degree in travel, food, and wine with culinary school along the way. These became my compass and my foundation. I was working tasting rooms by day and cooking in beach burger shacks and five-star kitchens at night. I loved it.
This history has shaped the path of Gentleman Farmer, keeping it in a culinary context.
The label reads Gentleman Farmer, but calling myself a country gentleman would be a stretch. I am just a sidekick winemaker waking up each morning doing my life’s best work.
Vintner, Sidekick Winemaker
It could be said that I am a product of the valley, born and raised in Napa.
My roots here are not only figurative; my family started farming grapes in the Oak Knoll region in the early 1980’s. My father had planted 22 acres on Big Ranch Road. My brother, sister, and I worked after school, weekends and vacations. I learned at an early age vineyard management, trellising, pruning, and of course, harvest.
Today we source grapes from this same area, with the once family home sharing a narrow road with the Boyd Vineyard, where we source some Merlot.
University in Southern California led to a degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management. A career in fine dining brought me to San Francisco shortly thereafter.
Wine brought me full circle, back to Yountville and the Napa Valley. I now understand T.S. Elliot, “…to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.”
In 2002 I handed in my two-weeks notice, loaded up the car, and moved to California with my wife.
Being a winemaker wasn’t just my dream job, I believe it was my destiny. This is how it began:
The night before pushing off for Wine Country my wife and I were nervous. We had less than $1,000 in our bank account, and the threat of arriving in California utterly homeless loomed over our heads.
Thankfully, the universe proved equally determined to make my dreams come true. My last night working in the restaurant, something amazing happened. I was in the kitchen about to run out some food to a table, and one of the other waiters came and informed me that I was the “luckiest waiter in Dallas.” I asked why and he just replied, “You’ll see”. I was seated a pretty amazing table of travelers who purchased 89 Le Pin, 82 Mouton, 89 Petrus, a Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet, and some other insane wines. I walked out that night with $2,400 in cash tips, and to me, that was like God saying, “Go forth my son, you’re doing the right thing.” And so I went.
I joined the Gentleman Farmer team in 2005 with the first harvest.
Winemaker and Consultant
I’m a bit of a big deal around here. I’m the lucky dog, the greeter, and the vineyard scout.
I really dig our Cabernet. Pair it with a good steak! With that, well, I’m like a dog with a bone.
I’m well-behaved thanks to charm school early on. I’m a world traveler and spent my college year-abroad in France, Germany, and Switzerland. I’m an adventurer who backpacked a summer through my native Mexico.
When I’m not in deep reflection and meditation on the Napa Valley and her wines, you can usually bet I am chasing squirrels.
I look forward to greeting you!