Winemaker / General Manager of Winery Operations
After twenty years of working as a winemaker in every corner of the world, Winemaker Todd Graff landed at Calistoga’s Frank Family Vineyards in 2003, just an hour drive over the mountains from his hometown of Petaluma. He has yet to look back.
At Frank Family, he has applied his deep expertise in making both still and sparkling wines to the portfolio, and has been an integral player in defining Frank Family’s reputation as a world-class producer of Napa Valley Cabernet and Chardonnay. He also directed the construction of Frank Family’s new state of the art winery in 2007.
Todd was drawn to winemaking at a young age and signed up for an introductory wine course while attending Santa Rosa Jr. College. He then graduated from UC Davis with a degree in plant science and viticulture in 1984.
Upon his graduation, Todd circled the globe working for great producers. He worked in the cellar at Joseph Phelps Vineyards before navigating the steep slate vineyards at Weingut Klaus Schweicher in Mosel, Germany, the sandy soils of Château Yon-Figeac in St.-Emilion, France, and the decomposed granite and sandstone loam soils at Arrowfield Estate in Australia’s Hunter Valley.
Todd returned to the Napa Valley in 1987 to work as an Assistant Winemaker at Stag’s Leap Winery, and from 1990-95 was the Assistant Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at Schramsberg Vineyards, where he honed his craft in making sparkling wines according to the méthod champenoise. During his tenure at Schramsberg, he also served as Technical Director and Winemaker at Caves Transmontanas in Portugal, a Schramsberg joint venture.
In 1995, Todd joined Cordoniu in Napa (now Artesa) as Sparkling Winemaker, and in 2000, he joined Sonoma Creek Winery as Winemaker, where he cultivated strategic relationships with grape growers and was a key component of the winery’s executive management team. Under his leadership, Sonoma Creek’s production increased by 30%.
Todd is a member of the Napa Valley Wine Technical Group and the Napa Valley Vineyard Technical Group. When he’s not at the winery with his chocolate Labrador, Bristol, in tow, he enjoys spending time with his three children and coaches their Little League teams. He is also an avid mountain biker and fly-fisherman.
Sara Fowler joined Peju as the Winemaker in 2006, bringing a wealth of knowledge and creativity into the cellar. Her passion for farming developed as a young girl when she helped her family on their 400-acre organic ranch, which has been in her family in 1884. She got her start in the wine industry as a seasonal member of the Kendall-Jackson Winery staff during high school and college with mentoring from then Head Winemaker Jed Steele (Steele Wines), which laid a solid foundation and taught her key winemaking concepts. While she initially studied Art in college, Sara took a year hiatus from school and lived in Mexico on a sailboat where she reflected on a future career. When she moved back, Sara served as an Enologist Assistant during crush at Kendall-Jackson and attended Fresno State, where she doubled as a student and research assistant for the Viticulture Enology Research Center.
Upon completion of the program at Fresno State, Sara worked for seven years as the Associate Winemaker at Franciscan and Mt. Veeder Winery under Larry Levin, where she honed and perfected the craft. Through her tenure at Franciscan, Sara worked abroad during the 2002 harvest season in Chile for Veramonte. She also played a role in the terroir-driven Bordeaux blends of Quintessa and Estancia from 1999 to 2002, where she was able to utilize her talent for blending and creating Meritage wines.
As the keystone of Peju’s wine team, Sara’s commitment to excellence in the vineyard and in the cellar is extraordinary. In September 2007, Sara headed Peju’s efforts to gain organic certification in the Rutherford Vineyard and she is overseeing the winery’s sustainable farming efforts in the Persephone and Wappo Vineyards with organic certification goals in the near future. “Everything has to start in the vineyard. The vineyard is key. If you don’t have good grapes, then you’re not going to have good quality wine.”