Petaluma Gap Wine Hosts’ Bios
Ana Keller : ESTATE DIRECTOR, KELLER ESTATE
After taking over the reins in 1998, Ana worked side-by-side with Keller Estate’s consulting winemaker, as well as other industry veterans in both the cellar and vineyard to establish the philosophy behind Keller Estate. As the Estate Director and the palate of Keller Estate, she carefully steers the vineyard, the winemaking and the sales team.
Deeply rooted in the concept of “family first,” Ana’s greatest pleasure is knowing that she has found her life’s passion, while creating a legacy for her children. She is dedicated to leaving an indelible mark as a steward of the land, as well as developing distinctive estate vineyards that produce elegant, balanced and age-worthy wines.
“We have great pride in the wines that bear our family name. We want to create a legacy that can be continuously maintained for generations to come.”
Evan Pontoriero : CO-OWNER, FOGLINE VINEYARDS
Like so many other Italian-Americans, Evan’s grandfather made garage wine out of his home in Pennsylvania. As a young boy, Evan loved visiting and checking in on the fermentations during Sunday dinners at his grandparents’ house.
Evan came to the Bay Area in 1992 to pursue a career in computer graphics and animation. He got his start working on multi-media games, then made the transition to film when he joined the art department at Lucasfilm. While there, Evan became friends with a co-worker who lived in Geyserville and made wine as a hobby. One harvest, he asked Evan to help him pick and crush. The experience brought back memories of his grandfather’s garage, and ignited a new passion that would eventually change the course of his career.
For the next ten years, Evan continued building a successful career in film, working at Industrial Light and Magic, then Pixar Animation Studios. But, in his spare time, he poured his energy and focus into learning about wine – first as a consumer, then as a hobby winemaker. After discovering the amazing Zinfandel of the Dry Creek Valley, he developed a palate for the different styles of wine that the Zinfandel fruit could make. As he travelled south on Westside road, tasting all that he could, he fell in love with what could be described as the Grand Cru region for Pinot Noir in America: the middle reaches of the Russian River.
During his years working in film, Evan never stopped making wine, and gained confidence as a winemaker by fermenting fruit from different appellations that stretched from the Sonoma Coast to Napa. After bumping into Brent at several events, the two began to forge a friendship that led to them taking a class in entrepreneurship in the wine industry. By the end of the class, Fogline Vineyards was born. Vines were ordered and plans were made to plant. The first Pinot Noir vines were planted on Sonoma Mountain in 2007 and first wine produced in 2009.
Alexandre Remy : WINEMAKER, AGNITIO WINES
Winemaker Alexandre Remy joined Agnitio in January 2014 with a background in science and winemaking experience that spans three continents.
Hailing from Rennes, France, Remy holds a master’s degree in food science from the University of Montpellier. His desire to make wine took him to Marlborough, New Zealand, France’s Northern Rhone region, Victoria, Australia and California’s Napa Valley.
Most recently Remy worked as a wine consultant for Vively’s USA, where he consulted for winery clients looking to improve their wine production and quality control. His tasks included calibrating wines through tasting and identifying native yeast strains with potential for good wine fermentations.
Through his position with Agnitio, Remy hopes to demystify winemaking for the public. “I want people to understand wines and how to chose between them, making wine approachable.”
Remy embraces a winemaking style that showcases the elegance and finesse of each vineyard and vintage. “There is no such thing as making wine by recipe,” he says. “A chef can express his artistic side, and as a winemaker that is what I want to do.”
As part of this, Remy is constantly experimenting with traditional winemaking styles, some of which are “things people don’t do anymore because it is not within the trend.”
This type of experimentation is in line with Remy’s personality outside the cellar as well. “I’m eating life as much as I can. Everything is interesting. I’m a sponge for knowledge.”
An avid outdoorsman, Remy is involved in triathlons and trail running. His interests include cooking, traveling and spending time with his wife and young son.
Rickey Trombetta Stancliff : CEO & CO-OWNER, TROMBETTA FAMILY WINES
My family was food centric. Not unusual for an Italian family. But interestingly enough my parents did not drink alcohol as a rule and this included wine. My father would occasionally have a glass of white wine with dinner but that indulgence was rather spotty at best. My jobs as a child were to work in the kitchen with my mother and in the garden with my father. My father was a master at grafting fruit trees. We had an apple tree that had three varieties of apples on it. Since I was the youngest I was at home alone with them and it became part of my routine to shop for the vegetables and visit the family butcher. Every night Mom and I would prepare dinner together using the fresh ingredients that I had shopped for earlier. Growing up in Sonoma County in an Italian family one would draw the conclusion that we would be more main stream wine aficionados especially since so many of my parent’s friends were wine makers or owners. Mom and Dad loved to entertain and there were many gatherings around the dining room table. They served wine to their guests but did not partake. I can still hear the laughter ringing from that dining room.
A new path was opened for me many years ago when my husband Roger introduced me to coworkers gathered at a friend’s home to learn about making wine. Over the years as this group grew in their winemaking skills it brought to light something so obvious. As we concluded each harvest we would gather with food to share, wine to drink, and stories to tell. The bounty of the feast began to grow as we paired food with the wines. As our curiosity grew about wine Roger and I took courses at our local Junior College and U.C. Davis. Roger grew up in Connecticut. His father would share great Burgundies at Sunday night dinner. Roger grew up learning how to read and distinguish French Burgundy labels and wines.
One very warm summer day in August of 1998 I met my future teacher and friend through a mutual friend and grape grower. PAUL HOBBS breezed through the doors at Kunde Winery where he was leasing space, wearing his Bermuda shorts, a polo shirt and red high-topped Converse sneakers. Paul invited me in to taste some Chardonnay in barrels down in the caves. Later over lunch we discussed Paul’s new project, his first soon to be estate vineyard he had just purchased in Sebastopol. I was hired as the event planner for the celebration party he was arranging that November.
Paul suggested to get to know each other better we go out the following week to visit some of the vineyards where he contracted fruit. It’s about an hours drive from our West County meeting spot to Napa, which gave us plenty of time to talk. As Paul learned of my passion for wine he shared more of his philosophy on vineyard management and winemaking. I was soaking all of this invaluable information up like a thirsty sponge.
The event planning turned into harvest help. Punch downs at Kunde where Paul was renting space to make his wines, and riding on the back end of tractor-trailer pulling leaves and botrytised fruit out of the macro bins became a regular occurrence. This led to working in the vineyards along side Paul and then full on harvest help for many years.
My love affair with food and wine was blooming. Fresh produce from my huge vegetable garden was an integral part of our nightly feasts. Learning new techniques in the kitchen gave me confidence to reach out of my comfort zone. Roger and I are so grateful that we have been living a lifestyle of fabulous food and wine every day. The whole family joins in preparing food. Michael, our eldest, is a fabulous cook who pushes himself to replicate dishes he’s tasted and experiment with our garden’s bounty and Erica, our daughter, joined me in the vineyard at an early age.
Roger, my husband has always believed that I could do anything I set out to accomplish (he’s always been my biggest fan). He was willing to bet on it. We discussed starting our own brand for many years. I continued my education at UC Davis completing the PR and Marketing certificated program as well as Intro to Winemaking taught by Dr. Carole Meredith. The decision was made – let’s start our own brand. We determined that it would be called Trombetta Family Wines in tribute to my father. Paul graciously agreed to be our Consulting Winemaker. I could not have asked for a better team to turn our dream into reality. There is a lot of love in this wine. And now we’ve come full circle with Erica taking the reins as Winemaker.
Trombetta Family Wines first vintage of Pinot Noir is from the GAP’S CROWN VINEYARD located on the western slope of Sonoma Mountain. We have selected three clones of Pinot Noir that we feel exemplify the rich minerality, soils and cool weather from the Petaluma Gap. From bud break until harvest I walk our blocks of the vineyard internalizing the seasonal changes. This vineyard is pristinely maintained which the fruit exemplifies. At harvest I work the night picks alongside the crew. Armed with my blue shop towels I ensure that each macro bin is clean and dry before the fruit arrives. Leaves are painstakingly pulled along with any botrytised fruit.
TROMBETTA FAMILY WINES is at the beginning of our joyous journey. Our hope is that you will join us as we travel this road.
Erica Stancliff : WINEMAKER, TROMBETTA FAMILY WINES
Erica was in still in grade school when Paul Hobb’s appearance at our family table was a usual sight. One night in particular we asked Paul how he came up with the flavor descriptions in wine. He poured us each a glass of Pinot Noir including Erica. Swirling the wine in his glass he asked what do you smell? Before we could answer Erica started naming the spices (hints of cinnamon, pie crust) and fruits (blueberries). We were amazed. Erica was allowed a sip and she described the flavors of the wine. This began her long journey of discovery into winemaking, including internships at Vina Cobos in Mendoza, Argentina and Rudd, Napa Valley and completion of her degree in Enology from Fresno State University.
As our winemaker, Erica brings her passion, humor, curiosity and, most importantly in the winemaking operation, her steadfastness to our mission to produce the highest quality wines without compromise.
As a wine professional, Erica has traveled internationally to share enological best practices and to discover how the latest technologies might be applied to our operation.
Erica sits on North Coast tasting panels regularly, including the 2013 International Wine Channel Competition hosted by Wine TV and San Francisco’s 11th Annual Pinot Noir Summit. “Ask A Winemaker” recently caught up with Erica at Pinot Days, Chicago,where she explained the importance of clonal selection in Pinot Noir and the inherent “parenting” required for the well-being of this delicate, fickle grape variety. Listen in: