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Top 10 indie winemakers you need to know

With 80 of the best indie winemakers in the world working here at, getting to know all of them can seem overwhelming at first. The trick is just knowing where to begin…

Here’s the ultimate who’s who of 10 (or so) winemakers every newbie should follow from the start.

One of the best things about is there’s something for every wine drinker here. Think of these winemakers as your starting point for any wine style or region you want to explore.

Start making the rounds with these winemakers and check off their wines as you try them; soon enough you’ll be digging deeper and meeting even more winemakers with their own vivid stories and wines. Keep going ’til you find a favorite, then explore a little more. Like a choose your own adventure, with drinking.

So without further ado, the 10(ish) winemakers you need to follow to get started:

10.) Follow Ana Diogo-Draper for Portuguese masterpieces, by way of California

Ana’s the kind of adventurous, world-class winemaker is all about.

Her specialty is taking old school Portuguese powerhouse reds like Tempranillo or Touriga Nacional and reinventing them with California flare. When she’s not at her day job crafting some of Napa’s top wines for Artesa, she’s combining her Portuguese roots with her West Coast winemaking expertise to make luscious reds with mind-blowing elegance that you just have to taste to believe.

The perfect intro wine: Ana’s Gold medal-winning Paso Robles Tempranillo. Start here and it won’t be long until you’re discovering wines like Scott Kelley’s Tempranillo from Oregon…

Read more about Ana and find all her wines over on her winemaker page >>>

9.) Follow Daryl Groom, and see how Angel wines change lives

He used to make $800 bottles of Penfolds Grange (Australia’s most famous wine), now he’s making award-winning wines just for Angels – and paying it forward where it matters most.

Wines like his Russian River Valley Pinot Noir have earned him Best of Class honors at California’s #1 wine competition, but you should get to know Daryl as the winemaker behind Wine with Heart.

It’s a project with Daryl’s son Colby, who was born with a congenital heart defect, and for every bottle that’s sold, one dollar goes to the Children’s Heart Foundation. So far, Angels have helped Colby and Daryl raise over $150,000 for the foundation.

Grab a bottle of this heartfelt red and enjoy a glass while you catch up on the Angel community’s long history of philanthropy.

Then read Daryl’s whole story and check out more of his ravishing Sonoma wines on his page >>>

8.) Follow Karen Birmingham, 5th Annual Winemaker of the Year

Each year Angels get to cast their votes for the winemaker they think consistently knocks it out of the park, and this year the honors went to none other than the Queen of Lodi and Clarksburg wines – Karen Birmingham!

Karen’s historic win makes her the first U.S. woman to win Winemaker of the Year – way to go Karen! If you’re fresh to, you’ll soon discover everything Karen does she does the best, and few winemakers are as well-loved by Angels.

Grab a bottle of Karen’s stunning Reserve Barbera and check out all the other decisions Angels get a say in, from choosing which wines get funded to offering input on labels.

Then read about Karen’s path to being Queen of Lodi on her page and congratulate her on her win! >>>

7.) Looking for high-end Australian wines? Adam Barton’s your guy

He goes by a few names, mostly Adam, but sometimes “Angel’s favorite Aussie”, or “mate”, or “the Clare Valley Kid” (ok, pretty sure nobody actually calls him this, but it’s still catchy) — anyway, if it’s your first time trying out Angel-funded Australian wines, Adam’s the winemaker you want to know.

Just tasting through the wines under his Rabbit & Spaghetti label is like taking a guided tour of the best corners of Australia, from Adam’s home base in Clare Valley to world-famous Barossa.

Adam’s heart is as big as the mighty, mouth-filling reds he’s famous for. Wines like his Rabbit & Spaghetti Field Blend White helped raise relief funds following the incredibly destructive wildfire season in Australia.

Start your tasting tour with a bottle of Adam’s Barossa Valley Shiraz, and when you’re ready, head over to the site and check out Angels’ whole Australian selection.

6.) Follow Carmen Stevens, a true South African barrier-breaker

As the first black woman to graduate in winemaking in South Africa following the end of apartheid, Carmen’s already accomplished more than most winemakers ever do. Turns out, that was just the start. Carmen’s otherworldly wines have gone on to win award after award, quickly taking her from a budding, barrier-breaking winemaker to South African superstar.

Turns out, that was also just the start. For Carmen, perhaps the most important part of success is giving back. So she founded Carmen’s Kids to bring lunches to schoolchildren in South Africa. With the help of Angel funding, Carmen’s been able to bring meals to over 10,000 children.

Get to know Carmen with classics like her 90% rated Reserve Chenin Blanc and head over to the site to check out what the Angel-funded wines in this South Africa place are all about.

Read more about Carmen’s amazing life story and catch up on all her posts with Carmen’s Kids over on her winemaker page >>>

5.) Follow Matt Parish for the most elegant Napa Cabs around

Meet the undisputed King of Wine Country – he’s led the winemaking at classic Napa wineries like Stag’s Leap Winery and Beringer – but these days Matt’s making luxurious powerhouse wines just for Angels.

For Matt, it’s all about bringing people together, so during the lockdown he’s even taken to hosting semi-weekly Thirsty Thursdays and introducing new Angels to winemakers all over the world.

Make Matt’s acquaintance with a bottle of his Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, then give him a follow and stay tuned for the next Thirsty Thursday.

Get Matt’s whole bio and check out all the wines he makes beyond Wine Country >>>

4.) Follow Alexandra Farber and say you knew a legendary winemaker when

Alex is going places. In fact, she already has. She’s a top Napa prodigy turned indie winemaking superstar, who’s racking tons of awards and a devoted Angel following.

“I became a winemaker because it blends art and science, and I love doing something that has a finished project that my friends and family can enjoy.” Her Miriam Alexandra California Chenin Blanc recently won the biggest prize at the biggest wine competition the U.S.

Get the whole story on Alex’s rise to the top and scoop up some of her Angel-funded classics >>>

3.) Follow Wayne Donaldson and join the sparkling club

Wayne says, the first rule of bubbly is you can enjoy it any day of the week. The second rule of bubbly is: you can enjoy it any day of the week.

Ok, so there’s not an actual club per se, but you CAN sign up to Never Miss Out on another vintage of select wines from Wayne.

This sparkling winemaker knows his stuff, having called the shots at California’s most legendary bubbly houses, including Domaine Chandon (yup, like Moët & Chandon).

Whether you’re looking for a super fine, fizzy sparkling to pop for your next big occasion, or just a first-rate bubbly to add a little elegance to any old weeknight, Wayne’s wines are the perfect stepping stones into all the seriously delicious sparkling Angels fund. Start off with his Angel-favorite 90+ rated Sonoma Blanc de Blancs and Sonoma Rosé (they’re both so epic and mouthwatering we couldn’t pick just one).

Check out Wayne’s other stellar sparklings over on his page >>>

2.) Follow Mauricio Lorca – maverick of mighty Mendoza Malbec

Curious about those massive South American reds that critics and wine lovers are always raving about, but not sure where to start? Meet Mauricio. He’s a winemaking hero down in Argentina’s world-famous Uco Valley who’s responsible for some of the biggest, boldest, most highly-rated South American wines that Angels fund.

And fun fact: he just went vegan! Rather, his winery did. Rather, they’ve been employing vegan practices for quite some time, but just recently got certified. Woohoo! The only things bigger than his achievement are the powerhouse Malbecs he crafts down in Argentina.

Congratulate Mauricio for scoring vegan certification over on his wall and read on about this Mendoza winemaking master>>>

1.) Follow Ondine Chattan for Pulitzer-worthy posts and prestigious Pinots

Ondine’s wines are back-to-back Gold medal-winners, and her winemaker notes and wall posts are downright literary. Especially if you’re somewhat new to wine, no one explains the finer parts of vino like Ondine.

With decades of experience at some of California’s most famous wineries (just google Ridge Vineyards or Geyser Peak) her winemaking knowledge is basically endless. And she can explain it all better than pretty much anyone.

So grab a bottle of Russian River Pinot and stay tuned for Ondine’s latest posts >>>

11.) Oh, and definitely follow Sam Plunkett, a true hometown hero

Because what’s a list of winemakers without Sam? He’s never short on excitement Down Under. Whether he’s saving the day for his grape growing friends, helping to fight off devastating wildfires or bringing winery jobs to his small township of Seymour, with Angel support, Sam’s always there for his community.

12.) And follow Stephen Millier too, all the cool kids are doing it.

He’s the 3-time Winemaker of the Year who needs no introduction. With over 590,000 ratings and 64,000 followers, he’s Mr. Popular with Angels and it’s no wonder why – his reds from the Sierra Foothills and Lodi are juicy, powerful masterpieces that anyone with tastebuds will fall in love with.

13.) And we couldn’t leave out Europe, so make sure you give Spanish superstar Franck Massard a follow too…

He’s everyone’s favorite sommelier-turned-winemaker who’s on a mission to get all of his vineyards near Barcelona certified organic. Franck even puts on his sommelier badge again from time to time for Angels, breaking down the ins and outs of the very best pairings as only he can.

14.) Yes, we’re well over 10 top winemakers by now…

(But with winemakers this interesting, who’s counting? Anyway, last one we promise…)

Follow Derek Rohlffs for single-vineyard treasures

Although there’s no vineyard (yet?!), with Angel support, Derek’s in the unique position to showcase heritage block vineyards he loves – like the world-class Wiley Vineyard he cares for – all the way from the vine to bottle.

Just 9 miles from the Pacific, this prestigious vineyard is Derek’s own little slice of Anderson Valley – and he always makes share to give you, the Angels, first access to its impeccable wines.

Follow these winemakers to start your Angel adventure off right

…and pretty soon you’ll be getting to know all 80 of your winemakers around the world. Better get sipping!

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Andrew Martorella
Andrew Martorella
3 years ago

Good information!!!

2 years ago

I’m a nakedwines angel for about a year, but newcomer to the site. I love the wines (not a less than perfect bottle in a year’s worth of shipments), but this information and introduction to the winemakers and their stories increased my enthusiasm exponentially! Look out friends – invitations to join are coming your way!

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