Winemaker, Chimney Rock Winery
A native of São Paulo, Elizabeth Vianna spent her early years on a bi-cultural journey moving from Brazil to the United States and back again several times. Elizabeth attributes her career in winemaking to a glass of 1985 Sociando Mallet, which she enjoyed at a pre-auction tasting at Christie’s in New York. A biology major at Vassar College, Elizabeth was originally on the pre-medical school track. She fell in love with wine while living in New York City where she worked as a clinical toxicologist at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. Her strong science background and sudden infatuation with wine propelled her to apply to the University of California, Davis and its renowned winemaking program instead of medical school.
Vianna first became familiar with the Chimney Rock winemaking program in 1999, working as a harvest intern while completing her Master’s degree in enology at U.C. Davis. Upon graduation, she became a Lab Director at Napa Wine Company and was soon named Assistant Winemaker working directly with many of the region’s top winemakers including mentors Celia Welch, Erin Green and Heidi Barrett. Vianna was named to the position of Assistant Winemaker at Chimney Rock in January 2002, and advanced to the position of Head Winemaker in April 2005. In 2011 she was promoted to General Manager of Chimney Rock and she continues in her role as Head Winemaker at the Stags Leap District estate winery. During her tenure at Chimney Rock, she has consistently produced wines that have been highly rated among critics and highly valued among consumers. A staunch advocate for sustainability and the legacy of the Napa Valley, she has long served as board member and twice as President of the Stags Leap District Winegrowers Association. She serves as a board member of the Napa Valley Vintners. She is also a member of the inaugural cohort of the 2021 Napa Valley Vintners Leadership Program . As one of the few Latina winemakers in Napa Valley she is a strong advocate for women and minorities in the wine industry and formalized her mentorship with Batonnage, a non-profit organization in 2023 When she is not walking vineyards or making wine, you will find her immersed in music or hiking with her husband and Labrador Molly somewhere in the Bay Area.
Country born: Brazil
Education: Masters degree in enology U.C. Davis
Years in the wine industry: 20-30 years
Honors / Awards:
Commencement speaker, University of California-Davis School of Graduate Studies, 2009
My goal is to create wines with great texture and to have those wines represent the vineyards from which they are born. The tactile experience is just as important as the aroma and flavor. More specifically, my goal as winemaker at Chimney Rock is to highlight and honor the strengths of the amazing Cabernet we grow in Stags Leap District.