Winemaker, Seven Stones Winery
Mention Paris to most people and you’ll get a rude waiter story; Aaron’s is that he was 10, and the sneering Monsieur brought him wine instead of the milk he had ordered, because milk ‘ees for babies.’
As he grew up Aaron found himself yearning for a French wine adventure. He asked mentor Michel Rolland if he could find him a job somewhere. Heeding his master’s call (his mind filled with romantic expectations of pulling hoses around a cellar) he dutifully showed up at the appointed Chateau ... only to be taken on as winemaker. So began 6 years of living and working in France, first as Winemaker at Château Troplong Mondot and later director of Château La Tour Figeac.
Ready to come home in 1998, Aaron phased himself back to California with a stint as Beringer’s “flying winemaker” making wine in France, Italy and Chile. Here’s when he met and wooed his wife, Claire, with his “impossibly romantic” lifestyle, and found another great friend and mentor, Jean-Louis Mandreau (winemaker at Château Latour from 1970 to 1983) who wasn’t so impressed with the lifestyle, but thought Aaron had a lot of potential. Ready to stay in one place for a while, Aaron took over as winemaker for St. Clement in 2001, then in 2004 he moved to Quintessa as winemaker and general manager.
In 2007, Aaron began as winemaker for Seven Stones.
Country born: United States
Education: Enology degree from UC Davis and Master’s degree in Viticulture from the University of Burgundy. Right from the beginning Aaron believed winemaking should also be an art, and was attracted to the larger than life characters in the Napa Valley, like John Kongsgaard and French consulting-winemaker Michel Rolland, who professed to reverse the science-driven trend. Aaron began working for John at Newton Vineyard in 1990 as his assistant winemaker, and along with the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon they also bottled an unfiltered Chardonnay and suddenly wine was sexy again and Aaron was hooked. When Michel came out from France to consult, Aaron would squeeze his 6’3″ frame into the back of John’s beat up Ford Ranger and take notes. What a great learning environment! He lapped it up.
Years in the wine industry: 20-30 years
Honors / Awards:
2012 Winemaker of the Year- Food and Wine Magazine