It’s been said that there are two ingredients in the making of wine, grapes and the winemaker. While Waugh Cellars surely has the first, the wine would be nothing without the second. However, calling Ryan Waugh simply a winemaker would not do justice to all the work he does. Better to call him a brand ambassador.
At 39, with fifteen vintages already behind him, Ryan is one of the youngest winemakers working in Napa and Sonoma. Born and raised in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, he graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Biology and minors in Marketing and Environmental Studies. While at Santa Clara, a friend’s father shared a special bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, which sparked an intense passion for wine and inspired the idea to start his own winery.
That inspiration led him to find a wine job, any wine job close to school. He found it at Savannah Chanelle winery in the Santa Cruz mountains, where he began working with Michael McNeill. Under Michael’s guidance, Ryan learned that winemaking begins in the vineyard, showing great care to the vines during the growing season. This allows for minimal interaction once the wine gets to barrel, creating wines that are true representations of their varietal and exhibiting unique flavors and great structural depth.
In 2001 he founded Waugh Cellars, which produces 3,500 cases of award winning wine annually. Current varietals produced include Russian River Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Zinfandel, Santa Barbara Riesling, Cabernet Franc and a Meritage.
A second wine brand, Six Degrees was released in 2008 with new vintages arriving via an allocation only mailing list each January.
Ryan and his wife Crystal run the family business and hope that one day their 2 sons Jordan and Carter will want to take over the reins of Waugh Family Wines!