The Top 100 Wines of 2003 Winemaker: Bob Foley
Sunday, December 7, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle
By Mike Weiss
Bob Foley was 16 years old, well below the legal drinking age, when he discovered his vocation: He would become a winemaker.
His destiny revealed itself when a neighbor of his family's in Alamo took the youngster along to work with him at Inglenook. In a dark, dank cellar at one of California's most venerable wineries, Bob was given a taste directly from a cask of Inglenook 1968 Charbono, an obscure grape. "I went 'Gawd!' " Foley says, recalling the moment while sitting at a picnic table on a sun-kissed October day at Pride Mountain Vineyards, where he has become celebrated as a winemaker. "All my passionate senses told me I want to make wines as good as this."
The decision did not displease his parents, whose home winemaking was a serious hobby. His mother is French Swiss; his father was a California native. Straight from U. C. Davis in 1977, Foley was hired as a cellar worker by the legendary Joe Heitz. A year later, he became the founding winemaker at Markham, where he remained until joining Jim and Carolyn Pride in 1991 to make small quantities of top-end wine on their 200 acres in the Mayacamas mountains at 2,100 feet.
Today, they have 82 acres of vineyard and make about 20,000 cases of 13 different wines. "We are winegrowers here," says Foley, who at 50 has an open, friendly American face hatched with laugh lines at his eyes and mouth. "We pay close attention to flavors, to textures, to aromas, to colors. Those are pretty much the center of our universe." More