Hayley Johnson is an Arizona native who swapped the dry heat in the Valley of the Sun for the cool, coastal-influenced climate of the Bay Area upon finishing a competitive Interior Architecture degree in 2008. She traded her t-square and drafting table for the opportunity to delve into the world of wine; working in restaurants throughout undergrad had been enough to give her a taste of how rewarding that path could be.
Hayley jumped right into San Francisco’s wine scene landing a job at the Burgundy-centric RN74. This led to focused study, sommelier certification and ultimately a whirlwind, month-long tasting trip chasing riesling in her favorite regions in both Germany and Austria. Half quarter-life crisis, half wine-fueled mania, it was there that Hayley had a moment of clarity and decided to explore the world of winemaking.
Back in California she wrangled her rookie harvest gig with Wind Gap and Ryme Cellars in Sonoma County. “Those guys went out on a limb for me. Bless their souls.” She returned to the city to accept a sommelier position at The Slanted Door, however, having already secured a spring harvest in the Southern Hemisphere, she had to make a choice. “I was at a crossroads, struggling to decide whether to sit for my Advanced and pursue a serious career as a sommelier or dive head-first into basically being a broke hippie in search of winemaking and wanderlust.” After months of vacillation, she opted for the latter and began to focus on production for the next three years.
She traveled to the middle of the Patagonian desert to work at Bodega Chacra, bounced up to Lompoc’s Wine Ghetto to get a feel for the Central Coast at DDLC + Sandhi Wines and headed ‘down under’ to New Zealand’s Rippon Vineyard to further her knowledge of Biodynamics; it was here in Central Otago that Hayley decided it was time to hit the Old World. The coup de foudre took its form in a year with Johannes Leitz in the Rheingau where she spent the majority of her time working in the vineyards. With the benefit of these twelve months, she not only saw the entire life cycle of the vine but also gained a comprehensive understanding of what the adage, ‘wine is made in the vineyard’, is really all about.
I am humbled by the opportunity to be a part of this innovative venture, working alongside people who share like-minded visions for the future and potential of this industry. Super stoked with our tight-knit lineup of growers, I look forward to sharing my excitement about wines we truly believe in with the U.S. market.
Hayley is currently based in San Francisco and is overseeing the West Coast.