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Joe Shirley of Napa Cellars

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Joe Shirley

Despite growing up in Napa Valley, winemaker Joe Shirley didn’t know much about wine until, as a young man, he crossed paths with an influential wine buyer in England. When Joe returned home to Napa, having tasted some of the finest bottlings in the world, he viewed the vineyards through an entirely different lens.

Had he not discovered his passion for wine, Joe might have led a completely different life. But the life he was meant to live exists at the intersection of scientific precision and passionate artistry. It exists in the vineyard, in the cellar, and ultimately, in the glass, where a sense of place—and his expression of that place—comes to life. For Joe, wine is deeply personal.

“In its purest form, wine is a reflection of our relationship to the natural world,” explains Joe. “We craft these wines to illuminate that world—the texture of the soil, the path of the roots, the slope of a specific hill, the aroma of a particular grape. Every sip is intended to evoke what is unmatched by any other place, what is indisputably Napa Valley in its tone and tenor.”

A graduate of the world-renowned master’s program in enology at the University of California at Davis, Joe has nearly 20 harvests behind him. In 2006, he became head winemaker at Napa Cellars, where he takes a decidedly minimalist approach, letting the vineyards and the grapes speak for themselves.

“I don’t try to put a big winemaker signature on my wines,” Joe says. “The terroir of the vineyards here is so distinct, so extraordinary; I simply guide the wine toward the purest interpretation of the land.”

The result is a collection of wines that offers the ultimate expression of Napa Valley, through the lens of Joe Shirley.