Grounded in tradition,
guided by innovation
Ramey Wine Cellars was founded in 1996 by David Ramey and his wife Carla. After sixteen years making wine in Sonoma County, and firmly establishing Matanzas Creek and Chalk Hill wineries in the marketplace, David crossed the Mayacamas to spend six years in the Napa Valley–first as winemaker for Dominus Estate and project manager for the construction of their new winery; then helping Leslie Rudd reshape the Girard Winery into Rudd Oakville.
Over the years, David has helped pioneer traditional, artisan winemaking techniques in California during a period when making wine by the University book was the norm. His efforts have helped shape the way many wines in the United States are made today, including the elimination of skin contact for most white grapes; the use of oxidized juice in making white wine; sur lie aging of white wines in barrel; whole-cluster pressing of white grapes; malolactic fermentation of Chardonnay; native yeast fermentations; harvesting fully mature fruit; eliminating acidification of red wines; and bottling without filtration.
In addition to managing Ramey Wine Cellars, David enjoys consulting for a select handful of clients in the North Coast.
David’s groundbreaking work with indigenous yeasts, sur lies aging, whole-cluster pressing and malolactic and barrel fermentation yielded a new California style that was richer, more lush and silky smooth than previously known. As a result, he created a benchmark style now emulated by many.
David earned a graduate degree from the University of California at Davis, where his 1979 thesis on volatile ester hydrolysis (translation: how aromas evolve in wine) is still used today to understand how wine ages. But shortly afterwards, a stint working for the Moueix family at the renowned Château Pétrus introduced David to the time-honored methods of winemaking in France. He brought his lessons home and applied them to the grapes he found growing in California’s premier wine regions.
Back in California, David helped establish a number of wineries that would soon become household names. They include Matanzas Creek, Chalk Hill, Dominus Estate (owned by Christian Moueix, of Pétrus) and most recently, Rudd Estate.
Ramey Wine Cellars, which David owns with his wife, Carla, was founded in 1996. To make great wines, he takes chances, often harvesting his grapes at the last possible moment. The resulting wines are praised among colleagues, consumers and the media alike. Most importantly, they are the wines David dreams of brought to graceful, delicious life.
David served as Chair of Family Winemakers of California, is on the executive board of Communicating for Agriculture, which provides visas for foreign students to work harvest in the US and is on the Board of the Sonoma County Vintners and their government relations subcommittee. He and Carla live just outside Healdsburg, not far from the winery.