I first met Bob Foley when he was the winemaker at Markham Vineyards. This was back in the days when Bruce Markham still owned the place, and I was working there as a marketing agent. The wines were monumental — tannic, solid, old school — but Bob was destined for greater things still. After Markham was sold, he took a position at Pride Mountain Vineyards, where he spent 15 years and earned superstar fame. High-profile consulting work at Switchback Ridge, Hourglass, Paloma, School House, and Engel Family only added to his legend.
Never content to sit on his heels, Bob launched his own winery in 1998 with a tiny, 250-case production of Claret. The wine received great critical acclaim (94 points from Robert Parker — a big Foley fan) and the brand took off from there. The early vintages were custom-crushed and sourced from top vineyards up and down the valley — One of the keys to Bob’s success has always been the great care he takes in selecting the grapes that go into his wines. In 2006, Bob purchased a winery of his own as well as a vineyard on Howell Mountain. Production has steadily increased since then, and Bob currently makes a range of wines that include an Estate Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, classic Bordeaux blends, and his delicious Claret, as well as Petit Sirah, Semillon, Pinot Blanc, and one of his personal favorites, Charbono.
If there was another key to Bob’s success it would have be his innate zeal and curiosity. When I visited him at the winery we tasted his latest passion project, a newly minted Port-style fortified wine, made from Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Cão. His boyish enthusiasm is evident in everything that he does, and it all shines through in these beautiful, concentrated, and delicious wines.