People > Winemaking & Field Crew

Aron Weinkauf
“I can’t imagine a better place to begin my career in winemaking. Spottswoode believes, as do I, that winemaking begins in the vineyards. I am thrilled to be working in the fields at Spottwoode, practicing the age-old craft of winemaking from the ground up, literally!”

Aron Weinkauf, Winemaker & Vineyard Manager

Aron Weinkauf, Winemaker & Vineyard Manager

As both vineyard manager and winemaker, Aron Weinkauf carries on a rich tradition at Spottswoode of embracing an interconnected view of winemaking that has deep roots in the vineyard. In his dual role, Aron works alongside the winery’s in-house vineyard team, guiding the farming of the estate’s 24 individual blocks. In the winery, he applies his talents to as many as 20 small fermentations each vintage, just to make Spottswoode’s two acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignons. Aron also performs dozens of additional fermentations for the winery’s Sauvignon Blanc and Field Book Syrah. In addition to being the steward of Spottswoode’s legendary vineyard, Aron ensures that each wine authentically reflects its vintage and vineyards, and that it is true to the elegant, energetic and age-worthy style for which Spottswoode has been recognized since 1982. More

Since his childhood growing up in Nevada on three and a half acres with a large organic vegetable garden, a small orchard, and horses, chickens and pigs, a deep relationship with the land has been an important part of Aron’s life. Later, while earning a degree in Spanish from Berry College, Aron was introduced to the culture of wine, while studying abroad in Sevilla and Barcelona, Spain. In winemaking, Aron saw a way to combine his love of the land with his fascination with wine, and upon returning to the United States he moved to California and enrolled in the viticulture and enology program at Fresno State University. While still in school, Aron worked as the assistant winemaker at the family-owned Ficklin Vineyards, America’s oldest Port winery, before going on to work in the winery at Paul Hobbs after graduation.

In 2006, Aron joined the Spottswoode team as assistant winemaker. At Spottswoode, Aron embraced his desire for a deeper understanding of viticulture. “I fell in love with the sheer enjoyment of working in the vineyard,” says Aron. “Winegrowing is so dynamic—it requires both sensibility and sensitivity as you intuit and adjust to the ebbs and flows of nature.” In 2009, in addition to his role as assistant winemaker, Aron was named Spottswoode’s vineyard manager. Two years later, in recognition of his deep understanding of the vineyard, his gifted palate, and his artistry as a winemaker, Aron was named the fifth winemaker in the storied history of Spottswoode. “When you have the good fortune of working with one of the world’s great vineyards, you realize you are part of an ongoing story,” adds Aron. “I recognize decisions made decades ago that still profoundly shape the quality of our wines. Everyone who has had the privilege of working with our vineyard has strived to leave it better than when they arrived, which is no small feat.”

As part of this ideal, Aron expanded on a quarter century of organic viticulture when he introduced biodynamic farming at Spottswoode, with the goal of ensuring the vineyard’s continued vitality for generations to come. In many ways, biodynamics echoes Aron’s overall winemaking philosophy, which is gentle, thoughtful and vineyard driven, while still being intimately hands-on and detail-oriented. “Working with our vineyard, I’ve come to believe in the romance and interconnectedness of all things. This can lead you in search of both innovation and older, wiser ways of farming. With a vineyard like Spottswoode, if you are deeply aware of the needs of the land, you can make a wine of remarkable pleasure, beauty and balance in even the most challenging vintages.” Less

Landon Donley

Landon Donley, Assistant Winemaker

Landon Donley, Assistant Winemaker

Landon Donley joined Spottswoode as an intern for the 2010 harvest and, based upon his exceptional enthusiasm and talent, was hired as Assistant Winemaker in the spring of 2011. He grew up in the Sierra Foothills of California, and his fascination with wine was sparked by his role as a vineyard worker “extra” in the film “A Walk in the Clouds.” Prior to joining Spottswoode, Landon interned at Molly Dooker Winery in Australia and Fresno State Winery. He holds two bachelor degrees from California State Universities, in Business Management from Long Beach and Enology from Fresno. His experience includes winery retail and wholesale sales, Sommelier certification studies, and winemaking.

Landon and his wife, Sarah (also a winemaker), enjoy tackling home improvement projects, camping, and chasing after their active puppy, Cooper.

Cellar Crew

Spottwoode's vineyard and cellar crew at the winery.

Photos: Robb McDonough

Field & Cellar Crew

Jose Luis Lopez has worked with the winery since 1982. Born in the town of Zamora, Mexico, he is the eleventh of twenty-one children! Trino Manzo Llamas is our Vineyard Foreman. After emigrating from Guadalajara, Mexico to Napa Valley, he worked in the vineyards under Luis Ochoa, learning his trade. He joined Spottswoode in 2000, and says, “Here everyone is treated very well, and they are great people, creating a healthy and enjoyable work environment.” Winery Foreman Jose Mora moved to Napa Valley from Zamora, Mexico when he was 15 years old. He held positions as crew foreman, vineyard supervisor, and cellar master in Napa before joining our winery in 2008. Jaime Gutierrez moved to the United States after finishing high school in Mexico City. He drives the tractor in our vineyard and also works with our draft horse, an exciting new development in our farming methods!

Aron Weinkauf
“I can’t imagine a better place to begin my career in winemaking. Spottswoode believes, as do I, that winemaking begins in the vineyards. I am thrilled to be working in the fields at Spottwoode, practicing the age-old craft of winemaking from the ground up, literally!”

Aron Weinkauf, Winemaker & Vineyard Manager

Landon Donley

Landon Donley, Assistant Winemaker

Cellar Crew

Spottwoode's vineyard and cellar crew at the winery.

Photos: Robb McDonough

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