|Jeff Durham, Joe Wolosz and Stella|
From Gentleman Farmer…
My story starts in 1972. I was five. My father and mother bought two motels that year on the California central coast; El Patio Motel and The Wayside Motel. I am a native Californian who grew up with birthdays and summer parties at the motel pool. Guests would join in, dad would barbecue, and I would help. These were the seeds of food, wine, and hospitality. This childhood led to a college degree in travel, food, and wine with culinary school along the way. These became my compass and my foundation. I was working tasting rooms by day and cooking in beach burger shacks and five-star kitchens at night. I loved it. This history has shaped the path of Gentleman Farmer, keeping it in a culinary context.The label reads Gentleman Farmer, but calling myself a country gentleman would be a stretch. I am just a sidekick winemaker waking up each morning doing my life’s best work.
It could be said that I am a product of the valley, born and raised in Napa. My roots here are not only figurative; my family started farming grapes in the Oak Knoll region in the early 1980’s. My father had planted 22 acres on Big Ranch Road. My brother, sister, and I worked after school, weekends and vacations. I learned at an early age vineyard management, trellising, pruning, and of course, harvest. Today we source grapes from this same area, with the once family home sharing a narrow road with the Boyd Vineyard, where we source some Merlot. University in Southern California led to a degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management. A career in fine dining brought me to San Francisco shortly thereafter. Wine brought me full circle, back to Yountville and the Napa Valley. I now understand T.S. Elliot, “…to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.”