It only took a week for Robert Sinskey’s obsession with wine growing to take root.
A native Californian, Rob moved to New York City to earn his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Parsons School of Design. Yes, one could say he was as far away from farming and vine growing as you could get in the U.S. (he jokes that “the only thing happening in agriculture was conducted in apartment closets”). After a stint in advertising, Rob was back in California. His father, Bob, needed help running his own wine business, maybe for about six months – Bob was still in the field of medicine, having invented a revolutionary artificial human lens that would propel his surgical career and medical practice. Needless to say, the vines would stop for no one, so Rob took the helm of the winery in 1996.
As Rob tells it, six months of assistance quickly turned into 25 years of obsession, and he hasn’t looked back since. Over those 25 years, Rob’s 100% organic and biodynamic winegrowing operation has spread into 200+ acres of vineyards throughout the Napa and Sonoma valleys. Bob has since passed, and Rob is carrying on a legacy of carefully tended artisanal wine.
His driving philosophy? Making “pure wines of character that pair well with cuisine.” Rob and his fellow winemaker Jeff Virnig converted all of their vineyards to organic in the early ‘90s, believing that good wine comes from good land, which they nurture with cover cropping, composting and other techniques that bolster healthy microorganisms. They developed beneficial vineyard ecosystems – with grazing farm animals, fish-friendly water systems, predatory bird and animal habitats. At least 75% of the energy the winery uses in daily operations is generated by solar panels, with trucks and tractors running on bio-diesel made from restaurant oil.
Jeff, the winemaker, does some pretty cool things at the winery too. He keeps all the lots and ranches separate from one another so they can be evaluated on their individual qualities, kind of like a really awesome science project. Jeff is able to totally understand each and every lot, and can then use different fermentation techniques to bring out their best characteristics.