Ram’s Gate Winery’s Joe Nielsen is promoted to General Manager and Winemaker, marking the winery’s continued evolution and pursuit of excellence
(March 9, 2022; Sonoma, Calif.)—Michael John, Managing Owner of Sonoma’s Ram’s Gate Winery, is pleased to announce that Joe Nielsen has been promoted to General Manager and Winemaker. Nielsen, who holds an Executive MBA from Sonoma State University, joined Ram’s Gate in 2018 as Director of Winemaking after nearly ten years at Donelan Family Wines.
Since joining Ram’s Gate, Nielsen has reinvigorated the winery’s production team with other new members: Orrin Oles, who joined as Assistant Winemaker in 2018 after a tenure with Williams Selyem as Cellar Master, and Rachel Bordes, who first started at Ram’s Gate as a harvest intern and was brought on as Cellar Technician in 2020 before being promoted to Enologist. On the business side, Meredith Hayes, previously of Gloria Ferrer and Treasury Wine Estates, was brought on in 2021 as Director of Direct-to-Consumer Sales and Marketing. Kristoffer Miller also recently joined the team as Hospitality Director and will be elevating the winery’s dining and tasting experiences. George Staikos of The Educated Grape, previously national sales manager for Ramey Wine Cellars, has been brought on as a consultant to help strengthen
the brand on a national level.
In this new leadership role and with an energetic and qualified team, Nielsen plans to work across the winery’s hospitality, marketing and sales programs to continue to solidify Ram’s Gate’s status as a premier Sonoma estate. His team plans to elevate and focus the winery’s hospitality experiences, expand market distribution and implement long-term sustainability measures. In 2022, Ram’s Gate is expected to complete the estate vineyard’s California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) certification.
Together with Oles and Bordes, Nielsen approaches winemaking as a way to showcase the complete picture of what a given vineyard is able to accomplish. The team has been extremely selective in reducing and focusing the winery’s vineyard partnerships, choosing only vineyards that express a unique point of view. Nielsen has also developed new partnerships with small-production, family-owned coopers in France, increasing cooperage variety in the cellar by over 120%. Additionally, he has introduced a variety of practices in the cellar including whole cluster and native fermentation with the Pinot Noir and Syrah. New bottlings in the portfolio include a Berler Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, a Richards Vineyard Syrah, a Hyde Vineyard Syrah and a Sonoma Coast Rosé. In 2018, he created the Ram’s Gate Cellar Note series—individual bottlings of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Rhône red blend and Cabernet Sauvignon that express the best representation of the vintage for each variety, creating wines as a lens into the cellar, while allowing the winemaking team to experiment with new techniques and vineyard sources.
“We are introducing a new perspective on a retro wine style that is restrained, yet full of energy. We are inspired by Burgundy, but we embrace the strength of the California sun,” says Nielsen. “Our process is about intentional decision-making to push the envelope on what a winery experience can be: always curious, always exploring, always improving.”
About Ram’s Gate Winery
Perched upon the rolling hills that define the landscape of the Carneros AVA, where the San Francisco Bay meets the edges of Napa and Sonoma counties, lies Ram’s Gate Winery. Founded in 2011, Ram’s Gate is entering a new era of winemaking excellence. Today, the winery’s portfolio showcases wines that are fresh, compelling and uncompromising in quality sourced from vineyards that encompass the breadth that Sonoma County has to offer. Rooted in a spirit of exploration, the Ram’s Gate team brings a new perspective on refined elegance through thoughtful farming, intentional winemaking, genuine hospitality and sublime culinary experiences. The winery’s connection to the land is reflected in the breathtaking tasting room that overlooks to the Ram’s Gate Estate Vineyard: 28-acres of organically farmed vines. The Ram’s Gate tasting room is currently open Thursday-Monday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., reservations are required.
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