Bill & Dawnine Dyer
Winemaker, Sodaro Estate Winery
Dawnine is an acclaimed American winemaker who pioneered the use of French Champagne production methods (methode champenoise) in California’s fledgling sparkling wine industry in the 1970s. She is also recognized for creating Bordeaux-style single-vineyard blends using Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown in the Napa Valley. She began her wine career in 1974 at the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, the heart of the Napa Valley grape-growing region. In 1976, she joined the Napa Valley start-up Domaine Chandon, the first French-owned American sparkling winery. Dawnine was paired with a French winemaking team from Domaine Chandon’s parent company, Moët & Chandon, which included veteran winemaker Edmond Maudiere.
During her 25 years at Domaine Chandon, Dawnine was eventually named vice president and principal winemaker. She oversaw all winemaking at the 400,000-case winery and also worked with its parent company in France. In 1986, she helped found Domaine Chandon’s sister winery in Australia’s Yarra Valley and also oversaw export products for the company’s winery facility in Argentina. She also joined other winemakers and grape growers in calling for the creation of Geographic Indications and Appellations of Origin for America’s wine growing regions.
Bill Dyer has been a California winemaker of note for over 30 years. During that time his considerable talents and experience have been applied to crafting award-winning Napa Valley Cabernets as well as consulting on the development of wines and wineries both domestically and internationally.
In 1976, Bill started as cellarmaster at Sterling Vineyards–where he worked until 1996—moving up to winemaker in 1985 and vice president of winemaking in 1989. Recognizing the importance of the vineyards to premium-quality wines, he was responsible for developing their single-vineyard wines, including a Cabernet Sauvignon from Diamond Mountain that received generous attention and praise in the early 1980s.
In 1993 Dawnine and husband Bill planted a 2.5-acre Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in the prestigious Diamond Mountain American Viticultural Area (AVA) of the Napa Valley, and began making 400 cases a year of Dyer Vineyard Bordeaux-style wines. In 2000, Dawnine left Domaine Chandon to devote more time to the hillside estate. Noted Wine Spectator columnist and author Matt Kramer credits the Dyers with creating “great Cabernets” of “superb quality.”
Together, this husband-and-wife team work with our vineyard manager to craft all of the offerings from the award-winning Sodaro Estate Winery.
Country born: United States
Education: Bill and Dawnine Dyer, have degrees in Enology, Biology, and Philosophy
Years in the wine industry: 30+ years
A great vineyard and a light touch are the fundamental building blocks of a great wine. After that, it's having a well-selected tool box and knowing how and when to use it.