I grew up in St. Helena, and never really had much of an interest in being involved in the wine industry until I was off at college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. My roommate was a wine & viticulture major, and we would sit around tasting through wines and I found it fascinating. I was searching for something I felt passionate about, and it just so happened that thing was the vines I grew up around.
Eventually, I moved to New York and worked in various tiers of the wine industry, learning the ins and outs of that multifaceted market. After 6 ½ years, I decided it was time to go back to my roots and work my first harvest. In 2017 I joined the team at a boutique winery called Anomaly where I spent a year working harvest and in the cellar. I wanted to gain experience with white wines, so I went back to SLO for the 2018 harvest and worked at Claiborne & Churchill. Being a part of the winemaking process from start to finish inspired me to continue my father's legacy and take my family's brand to the next level. After the fast pace of living in New York, it’s nice to slow things down, be around family and friends and enjoy this beautiful place I am lucky to call home.
After graduating from the UCLA Anderson School of Management with an MBA in 1976; I entered the Life Insurance Business where I enjoyed a 40 year career. The last 35 years was with the Principal Financial Group. The career allowed me to be an Assistant Wrestling Coach at local high schools and continue competing at the Veterans (age group) level. It also allowed me to go back to go back to college in 2008 at age 56 to complete my Red Shirt year on the San Jose State University Team. My love for the sport and seeing the impact it has on high school students inspired me to start Engel Family Vineyards as a way to support and raise money for the sport through donations of wine for auctions, events, and to be able to give a personal gift to friends.
I feel very fortunate to have Peter Murphy as our vineyard manager. Peter was a teammate of mine on the UC Davis Wrestling Team in the 1970's, helped reinstate the St. Helena High School Wrestling program in 1994, and like me, was an assistant coach. We are very blessed to have our friend, Bob Foley, also a UC Davis Alum as our Winemaker since our first commercial vintage in 1999. Without Bob and his wife Kelly, Engel Family Vineyards would not have been possible.
Robert (Bob) Foley began his wine making career in the Napa Valley in 1977, working at a number of highly regarded wineries including the famous Pride Mountain Vineyards, where he spent 15 years as a founding winemaker. Always seeking to create new, fun, and interesting wines, Bob’s reputation for producing very expressive wines that finish gracefully continues to develop at his winery facility on Napa County’s Howell Mountain. When Bob's not making exceptional wine, he spends time with his wife, his two children, and his two granddaughters.