Kuleto Estate & Merus, California
With over 25 years of experience in the wine industry, John’s belief in being a steward of the land coupled with his painstaking quality standards are a leading force for Kuleto’s and Merus’ small portfolio of exceptional wines.
John started his career as a London accountant, but his passion for wine led him to swap his note pad for a crush pad and life as a full-time winemaker. Having received his degree at University of Cape Town, the Rhodesia native discovered his passion for wine while attending college and quickly became enthralled with the art of winemaking. In pursuit of his dream, he attended the University of California, Davis where he was awarded the prestigious M.A. Amerine Research Scholarship from the Wine Spectator and earned his M.S. in Viticulture and Enology. “While I attended Davis, I worked almost full time for the best wine shop in Sacramento, Corti Bros, where I thought I learned as much as I did at Davis.” After graduation, John went on to work harvest at Preston, Dry Creek, then at Newton in St. Helena as cellar master.
With a well-rounded background working with various appellations and varietals, John earned a position as winemaker at Konocti in Lake County. He has since worked at Steele winery in Lake County as General Manager/ Chief Enologist, Clos Du Val in Napa as Head Winemaker/Chief Operations Officer and most recently, E & J Gallo as Red Wine Manager. John believes the varying topography, soil types and exposure make Kuleto wines so special. “Ten acres up here need to be broken into ten or so little vineyard blocks. Each block is so different, like the patchwork on a quilt. This makes blending these different lots very interesting and exciting.” John looks forward to continuing the Kuleto tradition of producing interesting, flavorful and food friendly wines from this unique mountaintop estate. His typical day at Kuleto begins with meeting with the cellar crew and vineyard manager, working in the cellar, and anticipating and planning for future vintages and bottlings. When time allows, he enjoys walking through the vineyards and interacting with guests in the Kuleto and Merus tasting rooms.
In his free time, John likes to stay active in the outdoors by hiking, cycling and playing tennis in addition to reading and listening to classical music. His favorite place to travel is Europe because of the varied cultures, food and wine. John lives in Napa with his wife, Lisa, and three cats, Bruiser, Zam Zam and Tempest.