Who are the Winemakers I Should be Following in Northern California?

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This question always arises at dinner functions or wine tasting events. While I know I will unfortunately leave out a name or two, I will attempt to answer the question.

Following the two advent guard winemakers in Napa is a good starting point. They are Philippe Melka and Thomas Rivers Brown. Between the two of them who knows how many wineries carry their prestigious name as wine maker or consultant (Entre Nous, Skipstone, Outpost, Kinsella, Vineyard 29, Revana, etc). Also in this exalted list is Celia Welch of Scarecrow, Corra Wines, Bucella and Lindstrom wines. Their wines are remarkable and should never be passed up! Many writers have given accolades to each, devoting praise with multi-page spreads. I collect and follow their wines each year — they are all exquisite wines.

That said, I would like to focus on some of the “next tier” of exceptional winemakers who are constantly honing their craft and providing us the consumers with intoxicating creations or simple making an elegant varietal. For simplicity sake I am going to list them by two categories. The first category being those who have been doing this for years but have not received their full complement of notoriety. We will call those: The Humble & Craftsmen Superstar Winemakers (HCSW). The next category is identifying the next level of winemakers coming on to the scene or who have already had some excellent wins, like the SF Chronicle Tasting Event. We will call them: The Rising Superstar Winemakers (RSW).
Name                                  Category             Wineries
Steven Kent Mirassou   HCSW                   Lineage & Steven Kent
Rhonda Wood                  HCSW                   Wood Family Vineyards
Steve Burman                  RSW                       3 Steve’s Winery
David Akiyoshi                HCSW                   Lange Twins
Karen Birmingham        RSW
Tom Hoffman                  RSW                      Heritage Oak
Rudy Zuidema                 HCSW                   Red Cap, Alyris, Kent Price,
Shadybrook Estate
Chad Alexander             HCSW                   Mia Nipote (Livermore) &
V12 Vineyard Estate
Chuck McKahn              RSW                       Wm Harrison & McKahn Family Vineyard
David Tate                      HCSW                    Barnett Vineyards & Tate Wines
Pam Starr                       HCSW                    Crocker & Starr, Bridesmaid
Scott Young                   RSW                        YoungInglewood, Venn
Kirk Venge                     HCSW                     Trespass Vineyards, Venge Vineyards
Tom Garrett                  HCSW                     Detert
Michael Desantis        HCSW                     Harumph
Vince Kalny                   RSW                         Incendium Wines
Laura Zahtila Swanton HCSW                 Zahtila & Laura Michael
Sean Capiaux               HCSW                     O’Shaughnessy, Capiaux & Progeny
Ted Osborne                HCSW                     Phifer Pavitt Winery
Bob Foley                      HCSW                      Switchback Ridge & Robert Foley Winery
Steve Ledson               HCSW                       Ledson Winery & Mountain Terraces
(Jerry Padilla)
Fred Nunes                 HCSW                       St Rose Winery
Matt Taylor                 HCSW                       Reuling Vineyards
Steve Dutton              HCSW                       Dutton-Goldfield
Dan Goldfield
Leo Hansen                RSW                          Stuhlmuller Vineyards
Ron Pieretti               HCSW                       Prospect 772
Ryan Teeter               RSW                           La Folia Winery

My upfront apologies if I inadvertently left someone off this list. I will be updating this once a year going forward so you are welcome to ping me.

These folks are absolutely some of the best winemakers that Northern California offers. Pick up a bottle to taste yourself!


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One thought on “Who are the Winemakers I Should be Following in Northern California?

    pyrodoug said:
    November 14, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    Nice post here! My question is how do I follow them? Are there webpages or other ways of finding out more information?


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