Chris grew up outside Chicago and developed a thirst for knowledge. With an intellect geared for science and a physique built for athletics, he earned an undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, while playing Big Ten football. He went on to receive his MBA at the University of Illinois, Chicago, while selling medical products and bartending at an Irish Pub and later a music club. At the club, he was surrounded by musicians and artists, and together, they started exploring and discovering the great food and wine scene in Chicago.
During a visit to Napa Valley in 1993, Chris discovered a lifestyle that could challenge him both intellectually and creatively, while combining his love of science with his growing passion for culinary and wine pursuits. Soon after, he started studying at UC Davis, where he earned a master’s degree in both viticulture and enology. He studied further in Italy at the Tenute Antinori, Santa Cristina Estate, now known as Tignanello. There, he worked in the cellar and vineyard and was also hands-on in the lab. Chris credits his time in Italy with teaching him how wine, food and culture are all intertwined.
In 1998, Chris ultimately found himself back in Napa Valley at the Cardinale Estate. He is now winemaker for many of Napa Valley’s most prestigious wineries, including Cardinale, Lokoya, La Jota Vineyard Co., Mt. Brave, Caladan, as well as, Hickinbotham that is located in South Australia’s McLaren Vale. Over the past two decades, Chris has earned a reputation for taming Napa Valley’s mountain tannins and creating legendary Cabernet Sauvignon. He works closely with the vineyard team to nurture and then manifest the unique character of each vineyard block in elegant wines with great depth, mountain character and historic pedigree. He believes in maximum attention in the vineyards and minimal intervention in the winery to create the purest expression of place.