Winemaker, Foley Johnson
Brad Warner was born in Sebastopol and raised along the remote coastline of northern California, between the tiny towns of Gualala and Point Arena. He spent much of his childhood outdoors camping, fishing and scouring for abalone.
In 1967 Brad moved to the Napa Valley and began his career in the wine industry as a cellar worker for Charles Krug Winery. Three years later he moved to Robert Mondavi Winery to become their cellar foreman.
During his career at Mondavi, Brad completed courses in winemaking and business management at Napa Valley College, UC Davis and Stanford University. He remained at Mondavi for 29 years.
During and after his time at Mondavi, Brad visited the wine regions of France many times. It helped shape his views on viticulture and winemaking. “I like Bordeaux, but I really love Burgundy. It reminds me more of what we do here in California. The attention to detail, the natural way of grape growing and winemaking, the whole concept of the traditional vigneron. The emphasis is on understanding the vineyard and listening to the wines throughout the winemaking process. The best growers that I met in the Cote d’Or had an incredibly deep connection to the land.”
In 1995 Brad helped Charles and Joanne Sawyer produce their inaugural 135 cases of wine from their property in the Rutherford AVA. “Having vinified fruit from all of Napa, I was thrilled to be working with Rutherford grapes,” said Brad. “To me this is one of the world’s finest areas for Bordeaux varieties. The wines offer exceptional varietal accuracy – Cabernet tastes like Cabernet and Merlot tastes like Merlot. You don’t have the blurring between grapes that can happen in other locales.
“The majority of our Foley Johnson wines come entirely from our vineyards in the AVA. They capture the purity and transparency that are the hallmarks of Rutherford. The tannins are gentle, the fruit is balanced and you can literally taste the terroir. I’m also excited about our Handmade tier of wines. It gives me a chance to work with different varieties and appellations, plus I get to interact with many of the other winemakers in the Foley Family Wines organization.”
Today, Brad lives up on Trinity Road, roughly 2200 feet above the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. His hobbies include camping and fishing – holdovers from his childhood. He also enjoys traveling and cooking. He and his wife Lisa have two Boxers, names Beau and Fawn, and five rescue cats.
Country born: United States
Education: During his career at Mondavi, Brad completed his formal education as well as gaining the invaluable hands-on experience that informs his winemaking today. Innumerable courses in winemaking and business management from Napa Valley College, UC Davis and Stanford University are a part of Brad's background. Brad also traveled to Europe with the Mondavi family to visit first growth wineries in France to study their winemaking techniques
Years in the wine industry: 30+ years
Brad feels that it is uncommon when two people both have the same strong passion and enological values for premium, quality wine making, as he and Bill Foley do.