About Us

Who is behind Carneros Ranch Winery
and what makes our wines unique.

A Short History of the Carneros Region

As far back as the early 1830's, pioneers were farming fruits, grains, and vegetables in the Carneros region and raising sheep and cattle along its pastoral hillsides. These goods were transported via boat, ferry, and rail to supply a burgeoning San Francisco. Among the many goods exported to "the city" were wine grapes. By the turn of the century, as Carneros vineyards were gaining notoriety and a reputation for quality, vineyard owners were hit with two devastating blows - first Phylloxera and then Prohibition.

Following the repeal of Prohibition, the vintners of the Carneros area began to look forward and industry pioneers like John Garetto (who established the first post-Prohibition winery in Carneros), Andre Tchelistcheff (named by The Wine Spectator as the most influential winemaker since the repeal of Prohibition), and Louis M. Martini (who founded his namesake winery that was among the first five Napa wineries to be built post-Prohibition) began to take notice of the cool Carneros region.

Fast forward a number of decades to the early 1980's when two soon to be pioneers in the wine industry came together with a common goal. Marcus Moller-Rache (owner of Buena Vista Winery) and Francis Mahoney (founder of Carneros Creek Winery) were both convinced of the Carneros potential to make great wines. Together, they founded the Carneros Quality Alliance (now the Carneros Wine Alliance). This alliance of grape growers and wine producers was able to show that the Carneros region produced grapes and wines that were distinct, diverse, and of high-quality. Because of their work, the Carneros Appellation received its official AVA (American Viticultural Area) designation in 1983 when it was shown that the Carneros vineyards of southern Sonoma and Napa valleys could produce unique wines with a "sense of place".

The Wines of Carneros

Pinot Noir from across the Carneros Appelation vineyards has a high-toned, cherry/cola character with a touch of exotic spice. The Carneros Pinot Noirs can range from light and refreshing, to dense and layered. You'll find that while the Carneros Ranch Pinot Noir has bright, beautiful fruit, it is also layered and complex.

Chardonnay from the Carneros Appellation will typically display a crisp, green apple character with a mouth-filling density. At Carneros Ranch, our Chardonnay's typical Carneros flavors are complemented with a touch of French oak and a creamy-soft texture that lingers on the finish.

About Carneros Ranch Winery

The Carneros Ranch wines are sourced from some very notable Carneros Appellation vineyards including the: Haire, Sangiacomo, and Mahoney Vineyards. These vineyards, and the families that own them, are true pioneers in the wine industry. Their decades of dedication to the Carneros Appellation shows in the quality of their fruit and we do our best to bring that wonderful fruit character into the wines we produce.

Under the supervision of winemaker Ken Foster, the Carneros Ranch Pinot Noir and Chardonnay display their Carneros heritage. Both wines express a bountiful bouquet of armoas before they burst to life on the palate to deliver the Carneros flavor profile. The generous and balanced mouthfeel sets the stage for a delightful fruit finish.

Winemaker Ken Foster

Ken Foster is active and full of energy in the cellar and he is enthusiastically involved in every step of the winemaking process from vineyard to bottle. Ken utilizes small open top fermentations, neutral oak barrels, sur lie aging, and his own hands-on approach in carefully crafting the Carneros Ranch wines.

Understanding that you cannot fully know the wines unless you understand the fruit, Ken walks the vineyards around and during harvest to sample grape clusters, taste for flavor expression, and monitor the health and vitality of the vines. Much of the hand-picked fruit is fermented separately to retain the unique qualities while some lots are co-fermented to combine their characteristics into a controlled field blend.

This approach affords Ken a wide range of options when crafting the final blends for our wines. In most vintages he has dozens of lots of different Pinot Noirs to choose from in the blending process. Ken’s keen palate, three decades of winemaking experience, and over a decade of experience working with Carneros fruit have combined to produce something very unique and special at Carneros Ranch Winery. Our world-class wines express the terroir of our vineyards and are a testament to the artisanal and careful approach Ken Foster takes to winemaking.

Our Mission

Few people are more familiar with the Carneros region than our staff at Carneros Ranch Winery. Whether it is farming practices, clonal selections, winemaking techniques, or wine sales, our experience overall can be matched up against the largest wineries in the Carneros. As important as our experience is the friendships we have built with our fellow Carneros growers and producers. We have nurtured these relationships over decades and our local friends help us seek out the best fruit available from growers where a friendly handshake is generally all of the contract we need. Our goal is to seek out undiscovered gems in the vineyards of Carneros that will turn out to be excellent examples of the very best wines the Carneros Appellation has to offer.

Our Team

Ken Foster - Winemaker
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Mindi Copper - Assistant Winemaker
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Dan Salinas - Sales & Marketing
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Stacy Manley - CA Brand Manager
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