Meet Our Winemakers
Collaborators & Interpreters
One Site, One grower, Diverse Expressions
The terroir of Lester Estate transcends the stamp of any single cellar. So instead of working with a single winemaker, we collaborate with a group of vintners to produce an array of interpretations of this special site under our own Lester Estate label. Our extremely limited production—just 100 to 200 cases of each wine, annually—captures ephemeral snapshots of each vintage. Join our Safari Wine Club to ensure access to these rare and extraordinary wines.
Our winemakers select the vine rows and clones they want to work with each fall, then communicate with our vinetenders throughout the year, from vineyard to cellar. We give them the freedom and support to follow whatever cellar protocols they choose. Our highlight of the year is a single afternoon when we all gather, with barrel samples and bottles, to compare and contrast the wines of the vintage. To experience the Lester Estate lineup of wines is to truly understand the concept of terroir.
Nearly a century ago, John’s great-grandfather founded Pescadero’s Arcangeli Grocery Co., a beloved Italian bakery. Building upon his family’s culinary legacy, John launched Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, a Belgian-style brewing company, before transitioning to winemaking. After an apprenticeship at the historic Heart O’ The Mountain winery (originally founded by the pioneering Paul Masson) in Saratoga, John founded Sante Arcangeli Family Wines, named after his great-grandfather.
Judicious and thoughtful, John takes a non-dogmatic approach in the cellar, aiming to express vintage variation through gentle, low-intervention, small-lot winemaking. John’s expressive and terroir-driven wines are always true to the grape variety; and acidity, fruit and tannin are always, elegantly, in balance.
Emiddio Justin Massa
A biochemistry major at Syracuse University, Justin thought he would take a gap year before medical school to work at a winery. That year turned into a career in California, where Justin started with ROAR Wines and moved on to overseeing small-batch winemaking at Mansfield-Dunne’s San Francisco production facility. As a consulting winemaker, he focuses on boutique vineyard-designate projects.
Justin’s site-driven, minimal-intervention approach includes spontaneous primary and malolactic fermentations from native yeast, and gentle cooperage that elevates rather than masking fruit. He is fastidious in the cellar, topping frequently to ensure a clean, fresh style.
Dan’s winemaking career started off with a bang when he transitioned from graduate studies at UC Davis to Clos du Bois to an internship at (arguably) the world’s most prestigious winery, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Highlights since then have included a gig with Atelier Melka and winemaking roles at Schramsberg and Larkmead Vineyards. He released his first bubbly under his own Carboniste label in 2017, and now focuses on sparkling winemaking full-time.
Dan is focused on developing a California-specific style of traditional-method sparkling wine that acknowledges but does not emulate Champagne. In his effort to capture and preserve the pure essence of the fruit, he emphasizes primary over secondary fermentations and de-emphasizes dosage and maturation on the lees. His sparkling wines are expressive and fascinating interpretations of place.
At California Polytechnic State University—San Luis Obispo, Ross studied agribusiness as well as wine and viticulture. He entered the business world shortly after graduating, but couldn’t resist the call of wine. After getting his start as a cellar rat, Ross worked his way up to the position of Director of Winemaking at Truett • Hurst Winery in Healdsburg, Sonoma. He currently also directs winemaking at the Russian River Valley label VML, and consults for several boutique labels.
Ross built Treviso in components, eventually selecting five different clones, and fermenting the lots separately before blending. He favors partial stem inclusion for the sake of texture and spice. His fermentation protocol, which includes a long cold soak, underscores the natural power and intensity of the fruit, as well as its juicy and luscious qualities. He then softens the wine in mostly neutral oak for less than a year—just long enough to round out any edges.
After graduating from Middlebury College and joining the Peace Corps, Ian learned the craft of winemaking first at Bonny Doon Vineyard, then as assistant winemaker and vineyard manager at Big Basin Vineyards. Today at his own winery, I. Brand & Family, Ian produces three of his own labels: I. Brand, Le P’tit Paysan, and La Marea. In 2018, he earned the San Francisco Chronicle’s prestigious “Winemaker of the Year” title, in part due to his knack for finding undiscovered vineyards destined for star status.
Ian is known for finding and reviving long-lost old vines and curating a collection of outstanding vineyard sites. His throwback style of winemaking entails taking some risks that inevitably bring great rewards.
The Vine Whisperer
Prudy Foxx studied environmental science in college and has trained in enology as well as in viticulture at the University of Bordeaux and the University of Dijon in France. She holds the WSET level 3 “with merit” certification and takes a European approach to her work, following the fruit to the cellar door. Building upon her scientific background in agricultural biology, Prudy takes a holistic approach to vineyard management, addressing systems rather than vines, with regenerative, organic, and biodynamic practices that focus on soil health and building biodiversity.