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Winemakers on the Move at Four California Producers


Jacob Gaffney
Posted: January 17, 2001

Several California wine producers -- including Estancia, Caymus, Kendall-Jackson and Napa Wine Co. -- have either hired or promoted winemakers in the last two months.

Monterey-based Estancia has hired Ken Shyvers, who previously worked for 23 years at Robert Mondavi Winery, as vice president of winemaking. Estancia, which is part of the Constellation-owned Franciscan Estates' portfolio, hired Shyvers as part of an effort to expand production. The winery, which makes 340,000 cases annually, recently purchased vineyards in Monterey County and Paso Robles. Estancia is best known for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but it also makes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Meritage bottlings.

Caymus Vineyards, in Napa Valley, hired Chris Phelps as winemaker for its red bottlings Caymus Special Selection and Cabernet Sauvignon. Phelps recently worked on the red wines at Central Coast winery Treana. Caymus' owner Chuck Wagner, who had been making the red wines, will continue to oversee viticulture and winemaking practices at Caymus, which produces a total of 70,000 cases annually. Jon Bolta will remain as winemaker for the white wines Caymus Conundrum and Sauvignon Blanc.

Napa Wine Co., the Oakville-based winery and custom-crush facility, moved Rob Lawson to the position of winemaker. Lawson had been serving as general manager of the facility, but he took over winemaking duties when Randy Mason stepped down to concentrate on his own label. Napa Wine Co.whose custom-crush clients have included hot Napa Valley labels such as Bryant Family, Colgin, Pahlmeyer and Staglin launched a brand under its own name in 1999. The company currently produces 5,000 cases of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

At Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, Jack Ryno has been promoted to vice president of wine production. Ryno previously worked as general manager for Kendall-Jackson's Vinwood and Lakeport wineries, two of the company's five permanent wine-production facilities. Ryno is replacing Charles Thomas, who moved to Jackson Family Farms -- which includes high-end, small-production wineries such as Cambria, Lokoya and Matanzas Creek -- to oversee wine production. Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates produces 3.65 million cases of wine every year, under the California brands Kendall-Jackson, La Crema, Robert Pepi and Camelot, as well as Tapiz in Argentina, Calina in Chile, and Villa Arceno in Italy.

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Check out ratings of Estancia, Caymus, Napa Wine Co. and Kendall-Jackson wines.

Read more about the Napa Wine Co.:

  • March 30, 1999
    Napa Wine Co. Releases Its Own Label

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