Ram's Gate Winery
Ram´s Gate Winery (Sonoma, United States) - The Best Wineries of the World
In a world obsessed with making things faster, where speed is valued above all else, Ram’s Gate is our way of pressing pause. It began with a dream to create a different kind of place, where the things we love most are savored and enjoyed. A fusion of classic elegance with a youthful spirit, this stunning vineyard estate perfectly captures the essence of winemaking at its best. Our aim is simple: to create the finest possible wines that only our climate and our terroirs can produce. The architecture nods affectionately to its natural surroundings. Outside, is a modern interpretation of the weathered farmsteads of Carneros. Inside, is an eclectic mix of contemporary chic and urban cool. Relaxed yet refined, individual yet uncomplicated, Ram’s Gate has been designed to inspire great company, and even better hospitality. The best things in life don’t happen by accident. They require passion, attention and above all time. We’re crafting a winery of exception. One bottle at a time.
It’s a beautiful place, the Sonoma Valley. And Ram’s Gate Winery is located right at its entrance.
- Consumed with passion.
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Average Bottle Price
As Jeff says, “you wouldn’t want to raise a 15 year old kid if you didn’t know a thing about what happened in the first 15 years”. Thankfully, Jeff and Ned Hill, our vineyard manager, are so in tune with one another’s thinking, they can almost finish each other’s sentences.
Assistant Winemaker Jesse discovered his grand passions of food and wine while satisfying his wanderlust traveling throughout the US and Europe. Despite working his way from culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris to one of the most celebrated restaurants in the world, wine and a life outdoors were calling. Starting as a cellar intern for the Harlan Estate, Jesse quickly rose up the ranks becoming a cellar foreman and supervisor by his second harvest. Working with Cabernet Sauvignon as a singular red wine blend Jesse began to appreciate the unique nature of how terroir and clonal variety could create singular wines of distinction. Two winemaking sabbaticals to Argentina and New Zealand cemented Jesse’s desire to develop exceptional wines. He brings that desire, along with leadership and technical savvy to Ram’s Gate. We count ourselves lucky to have him.
Which is exactly how Jeff O’Neill, a third generation vintner, developed the vision for Ram’s Gate. Alongside good friends Michael John, Peter Mullin and Paul Violich, he found an enchanting property in Sonoma right at the gateway to Sonoma and Napa wine country.
“When we found Ram’s Gate, each of us knew we’d also found the perfect location to develop special wines and special wine experiences. We had a desire to build a true original that would come to nurture some of the region’s best wines. A big part of that desire was creating a place for people to come and enjoy those wines in an elegant and relaxed environment. Accompanied by generous hosts, delicious, locally sourced foods and of course, great company.”
Passion is not a term we use lightly. But we do know when it comes to great wines, architecture, design, food and hospitality, Ram’s Gate is where we’ve brought those passions together.
Owner of O’Neill Vintners & Distillers, and one of the industry’s most successful entrepreneurs, Jeff has worked in wine for most of his life and is a former Chair of the California Wine Institute. He is blessed with an eagle’s eye for detail, an instinctive flair for design and his passion for the very best in wine, food and hospitality make him the perfect guy to realize every single aspect of this project, from the ground up.
Director of all Ram’s Gate operations since our launch in 2011, David has a passion for wine and a penchant for detail. He comes to Ram’s Gate with a world of hospitality experience, having begun his restaurant tenure at the ripe age of 13. His knack for delivering gracious service led him to manage some of the best hotels and resorts across the United States, including The Lodge at Pebble Beach, Inn at Spanish Bay and Hualalai Resort.
Even before mastering the art of management, David was surrounded by wine. First gaining a reverential appreciation for the vins de pays of the South of France, he and his wife began crafting their own wines at home, and have continued to do so for years. Meanwhile, David spends his days honing every element of Ram’s Gate Winery to create a delightful experience for each and every guest.
Taylr Behnam, Executive Chef at Ram’s Gate Winery, is a culinary adventurer and conceptual visionary whose career has been built in the kitchens of great restaurants and influenced by the centuries-old Middle Eastern and Mexican cuisines passed down to her by her Iranian father and Mexican mother. The past four years have seen her rise steadily through the culinary ranks, as she has drawn inspiration from the talented chefs around her and learned to allow the integrity of each individual ingredient to shine through.
Taylr’s approach to creating a great pairing is to begin with the wine. She will taste a wine carefully, thoughtfully and repeatedly to understand its unique composition of flavors and textures. She then considers the wine as an actual ingredient, the base ingredient, in the palate masterpiece she wants to create, to contemplate which other ingredients might combine well. From there, Taylr experiments with flavors and textures until she’s found the kind of pairing that’s so sensational it’s hard to forget. An avid supporter of the locavore and sustainability movement in food as well, Taylr is just the thoughtful, creative and experienced innovator that Ram’s Gate is honored to call mastermind of our kitchen.
Adam Betts is the master of the Ram’s Gate Tasting Hall. He joins our team with a wealth of experience caring for guests across the U.S., seeking to bring out the essence of place at each location. Certified with the Court of Master Sommeliers since 2007, Adam has honed his skills in the restaurant and hospitality industry for 20 years, most recently managing San Francisco’s Wayfare Tavern and Urban Tavern. His intimacy with the wine scene developed during his tenure curating wine lists and leading wine training, a practice that nurtured his passion for wine education and impeccable service.
Enter Ram’s Gate Winery. Drawn by the opportunity to work with world-class wines sourced from the best vineyards across Sonoma, Adam approaches each day as a new opportunity to craft the ultimate experience for each and every guest. “It begins with wine,” he says, “complemented by Chef Taylr’s elegant cooking and enjoyed under the canopy of timeless, understated design.”
“Manager” almost doesn’t seem like the right term. Member confidante, member virtuoso or member magician is a better term to describe Lisa Stranko. A key part of the Ram’s Gate team from day one, Lisa has devoted her time here to members as Concierge, then Assistant Membership Manager and today, overseeing every nook and cranny of membership, from the wines selected for each allocation to the winery events designed for us to raise a glass with our members.
An East Coast native now nestled in Marin, Lisa fosters a lifelong ardor for all things Italian – particularly the wines of Tuscany, siestas and late-night dinners – and her favorite place in the world (besides Ram’s Gate) is Anguilla. Between time spent relaxing with her Italian greyhound/mini pinscher Chloe and rooting for the Chicago Bears, Lisa is tending to Ram's Gate's amazing members to ensure that each visit exceeds expectations and that every allocation release is both personal and personalized.
Dilushka is Ram’s Gate’s residential expert in wine-inspired celebrations, spending her days creating the illusion that seamlessly aligned detail and coordinated execution is effortless.
With over ten years in the hospitality and event industry, Dilushka speaks fluently the language of event and private party planning. Her love for food, beverage and hospitality placed her behind the scenes of high-profile fashion shows and red carpet events, including the official style studios for the Grammy and Espy Awards.
While honing her celebration savoir-faire serving on the opening teams of boutique sites for Viceroy Hotel Group, Dilushka was all the while fostering her love of wine. Today, her modus operandi is to bring to life each wine-centered event with such precision that by the time guests arrive, the host’s only remaining duty is to raise their glass and join the party.
Practices & Techniques
Estate Vineyards / AVA
Son of a Sonoma wine-growing pioneer, Vineyard Manager Ned Hill began learning the art and science of vineyard management as soon as he could stand on his own two feet. Today, he tends Ram’s Gate Winery’s estate vineyards, and has since the winery’s inception. The twenty-eight planted acres surrounding the winery supply grapes for our small lot Estate Pinot Noir, sparkling wines and future Grenache, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Situated above miles of marshland on a Southern Carneros hillside, Ram’s Gate’s estate vineyards benefit from a long, cool growing season. The constant Bay influence keeps the climate temperate at all times of day and year, allowing the grapes to develop gradually to full maturity with enviable complexity and depth.
This fortunate fruit is made even more so under the expert eye and indefatigable care of Ned Hill, who is a veritable vine whisperer, brimming with explanations, ideas and solutions at every turn. Ned and Winemaker Jeff Gaffner work closely together to grow the most balanced and delicious fruit possible for Ram’s Gate Winery’s estate collection.