Winemaker and philanthropist Chuck McMinn retires from Vineyard 29
Current Vice President of Winemaking and Viticulture, Keith Emerson, promoted to President and CEO
Napa Valley, California, September 8, 2022 – After more than twenty years at the helm of Cabernet Sauvignon producer Vineyard 29, Chuck McMinn today announced his retirement. Vice President of Winemaking and Viticulture Keith Emerson, who has worked at the estate since 2005, has been promoted to President and CEO. Ownership of the business will remain with the McMinn family.
“In 2000 I contacted Vineyard 29 at the right time – I was ready for a new challenge and Vineyard 29 needed to grow. The previous owners were ready to step down, it made sense for us to step down,” said said Chuck McMinn “Now we are ready to step back and let new management develop the winery’s legacy even further.”
Chuck McMinn was already a successful builder of tech companies in Silicon Valley when he and his wife Anne started attending Napa Valley auctions in 1999. At one of the first, Chuck bought his first a large-format wine, a six-litre Vineyard 29, owned at the time by Teresa Norton and Tom Paine. It wasn’t long before the search for a weekend home in Napa Valley turned into a new career as the McMinns became owners of the Vineyard 29 wine brand and its seven acres of vineyards in Saint Helena.
In 2000 he also purchased the historic Aida Vineyard which gave McMinn the high quality estate grapes he needed to expand the portfolio. He hired Philippe Melka to make the wines and help build a state-of-the-art winery on the Vineyard 29 property; the 2002 vintage is the first homemade vintage.
Melka stayed on until 2017, bringing in a promising young winemaker named Keith Emerson as Associate Winemaker in 2005. In 2011 Keith Emerson was named Director of Winemaking and Viticulture and in 2018 Vice President of Winemaking and viticulture. Having worked with Emerson for 17 years, McMinn couldn’t think of anyone more qualified to take on the added responsibilities as president and CEO of Vineyard 29.
“Keith is the right person at the right time and ready to take on any challenge the business faces,” McMinn said. “We are putting in place excellent management for the next generation so that they remain an important part of our family legacy. We see the opportunity to develop it even further.
At Vineyard 29, Emerson not only led the Estate and Aida Estate series, but was also instrumental in launching the Cru portfolio wines, which represent classic blends in the Napa Valley and Willamette regions.
“I am so grateful to Chuck and Anne McMinn for trusting me and allowing me to take the reins of Vineyard 29,” Emerson said. “I’m confident we’ll do great things and I’ll work closely with the Vineyard 29 team to make sure we get there. I plan to take Vineyard 29 to another level.
Emerson plans to continue to honor the corporate culture instilled by McMinn, built around an open-door policy and deep humility, where every team member is considerate, respectful and willing to get their hands dirty. A winemaker and vintner at heart who prefers to wear shorts 365 days a year, Emerson’s vineyard and winemaking responsibilities will not change for the foreseeable future and he will continue to call every selection and sign every Vineyard blend. 29. Emerson is also excited about two new vineyards in St. Helena that will come online in 2023, the Railroad Estate and the Winner Estate, adding an additional 12 acres of grapes to the portfolio.
Emerson earned a degree in winemaking and viticulture from UC Davis in 1999, spent a year at Cakebread Cellars, then became an associate winemaker and winemaker at Gundlach Bundschu. In 2005, he launched his own label, Emerson Brown. As a highly sought-after consultant, he participates in the development of wines for Robert Craig Winery, Knighton Family Vineyards, Sang-Froid Vineyards, Vinoce Vineyards, Labry Vineyards, Martin Ray Winery, atLarge Wine and Vineyard 36.
McMinn earned degrees from Syracuse University and Brown University in addition to an MBA from Harvard Business School. In his professional life, he was President and Founder of Covad Communications, President and CEO of Visioneer Communications, and General Partner of venture capital firm InterWest Partners. Philanthropically, McMinn has served as a board member of St. Helena’s Hospital and the St. Helena’s Hospital Foundation, and chairs the Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition, Rail Arts District Napa (RAD) and NapaLearns, which merged with the Napa Valley Education Foundation in 2021.
About Vineyard 29
Owned by Chuck & Anne McMinn, Vineyard 29 is a boutique winery located in St. Helena, Napa Valley, and home to the Robert Parker rated 100 pt Vineyard 29 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Uniquely located and distinctively profiled, the estate’s vineyards are among the most distinguished in Napa Valley, including Estate 29 and Estate Aida. Situated in the shade of a tree-lined hill, the state-of-the-art winery exemplifies the artisan skill of combining winemaking technique and technology and offers unparalleled private tour experiences for wine drinkers from the most demanding luxury. More information about Vineyard 29 can be found at vineyard29.com or on Facebook, Instagram @Vineyard29.