Our winemaker, Zeke Neeley, grew up in California but not the California people think of when they hear “California”. The town of Daly City, south of San Francisco, has a climate more resembling foggy London which was why it was always such a joy for him to visit his grandparents in a sunny paradise called the Sonoma Valley.
"I see a winemaker as a combination of a scientist, chef, and kindergarten teacher. Sometimes a wine has to put its head on its desk and think about what it has done."
That soft-spot for Sonoma wine country hung with him throughout his college years studying Biochemistry and later while living in San Francisco and working in the BioTech industry on cancer research.
Eventually , after finding that he and his wife spent every vacation visiting wine country, it dawned on Zeke what he wanted to do--winemaker! After returning to UC Davis for a M.S. in Viticulture and Enology, Zeke worked at wineries in Santa Cruz, Carneros, and Napa—the last 10 years as a winemaker in Napa—and finally found his way to Kenwood. All those years after burning his pale, Daly City skin in the Sonoma sun he has made it full circle and found a roundabout way to a childhood dream.
When not orchestrating the cellar, Zeke likes to spend his time with his wife and two children, watching baseball, and going for the occasional run.