our winemakerJoe Shirley
Joe is that rare bird known as a California native. He was born in Long Beach, raised in Napa Valley and after high school headed back down south to earn his Bachelor of Arts degree in Exercise Physiology from Occidental College in Los Angeles.
“I was pre-med and interested in sports medicine,” Joe says. “Then at a barbecue at Maynard Amerine’s house I met a few people from the wine world, drank some wine and thought, ‘Hmmm, this is fun’.”
Just a short time later, Joe enrolled at the University of California, Davis where he received a Master of Science in Enology. After college, Joe launched his winemaking career at Sonoma-Cutrer in 1997. He joined Trinchero Family Estates in 1999 as enologist and worked his way up to winemaker for Trinchero Family Selection and Trinchero Napa Wines in 2002. In 2007, Joe accepted the position as head winemaker for Napa Cellars.
“I don’t try to put a big winemaker signature on my wines,” Joe says. “When you’re fortunate enough to work with Napa Valley fruit, the vineyards add the character and sensibilities to the wine that I like to see.”
Beyond the artistic side of winemaking, Joe is also a leader in the technical aspects of his craft. His work on grape seed tannins was published in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture. Joe also researched and a co-authored a letter published in the Lancet (the British equivalent of the Journal of the American Medical Association) on the phenolic content of chocolate.
Joe makes his home in Napa with wife Monette and daughter Savannah. In his spare time Joe follows baseball, enjoys beer and power tools, and does the NY Times’ Sunday crossword puzzle in pen. Joe once bowled a 252.