Senior Winemaker Sean Foster
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, winemaker Sean Foster is the epitome of the practical winemaker. While studying biochemical engineering at UCLA, he occasionally brewed beer to enjoy with friends and began to drink wine, but never with the thought that this would someday become his profession. It wasn't until his final year of study that Sean realized a career as a scientist wasn't for him and he began looking for something that would allow him to use his science background, yet provide the opportunity to create a product he could enjoy.
The call to the wine industry came in 1992 when Foster's grandfather, who lived in the Napa Valley, helped him get a job during harvest. Interestingly enough, he got his start at Merryvale. He became enthralled with the winemaking process during crush, working under then winemaker Bob Levy. After harvest, he returned to UCLA for a short time, only to leave during his final year to accept a full time job in the cellars at Merryvale. During his nine year tenure he was a "cellar rat" for three years, becoming Assistant Winemaker in 1995, and Associate Winemaker in 2001, this time working with winemaker Steve Test to introduce new varietals and develop single vineyard wines. In July 2002, he left to join Peju Province Winery as Winemaker.
Foster's career has come full circle, now back at Merryvale as the Senior Winemaker for both Starmont and Merryvale wines. He works closely with Winemaker Graham Wehmeier, the winemaking staff and Viticulturist David Wilson to create wines that reflect Merryvale’s outstanding vineyard sources.
Winemaker Graham Wehmeier
Born in San Francisco and raised in the South Bay, Graham was finishing up his biology degree at Williams College in Massachusetts when he realized during a chemistry of winemaking course that he could go to graduate school in winemaking instead of medicine. In 2002, Graham graduated from U.C. Davis with a Masters Degree in Enology that included harvests abroad in Tuscany and New Zealand, and an internship with J Vineyard & Winery in Healdsburg.
Graham’s experience in the Napa Valley began in 2002 when he was hired as enologist for Cain Vineyard & Winery and then as assistant winemaker for Terra Valentine. As winemaker at Merryvale, Graham continues his passion for making premium small-lot, hillside vineyard Bordeaux varietals.