Widely acknowledged as an American wine pioneer nonpareil, David Ramey, who received his graduate degree in enology in 1979 from UC-Davis (his master’s thesis, “Volatile Ester Hydrolysis or Formation during Storage of Model Solutions and Wines,” was later published in the Journal of Agriculture Food Chemistry), pretty much propelled California wines and winemakers to the forefront of the international wine world, and this year his winery, Ramey Wine Cellars, will be serving as the featured winery at Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta.
Born in Seattle but more or less a child of Silicon Valley before it became Silicon Valley (one of his classmates from third grade through high school was none other than Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak), Ramey spent his formative post-graduate years at Jean-Pierre Moueix’s Château Pétrus and Lindemans of Australia before returning to California and applying his skills at wineries such as Matanzas Creek, Chalk Hill, Dominus and Rudd.
In 1996, he and his wife Carla founded Ramey Wine Cellars. Since then, Ramey has continually produced critically acclaimed, award-winning wines, focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Syrah as its primary varietals. Over the years, he has helped shape the way many wines in the United States are made today, including the elimination of skin contact for most white grapes; the use of oxidized juice in making white wine; sur lie aging of white wines in barrel; malolactic fermentation of Chardonnay; native yeast fermentations; harvesting fully mature fruit; eliminating acidification of red wines; and bottling without filtration.
Still experimenting (in 2014, he opened Sidebar Cellars—as a venture for how to do more with different varieties and regions) and still producing, Ramey himself is also sought out by other wineries and winemakers as a consultant and advisor and he has served as Chair of Family Winemakers of California, is on the executive board of Communicating for Agriculture, which provides visas for foreign students to work harvest in the US, and he is on the Board of the Sonoma County Vintners and their government relations subcommittee. He and Carla live just outside Healdsburg, not far from the winery.