While we lack pretension, we are very serious about our craft.
As a business and as people we avoid dogma, we are open to new perspectives and opinions, and we always look for the opportunity in the obstacle. We exude positive energy and we are always appreciative. While we lack pretension, we are very serious about our craft. Our wines are world class, our people are world class, and our hospitality is world class.
Karen Francis DeGolia, Owner
Karen Francis DeGolia was a part of Limerick Lane in the early 90s when the vineyards were brought back to life and first harvested for the newly created Limerick Lane Cellars. Engaged to the founder, farmer, and winemaker Tom Collins, Karen spent many hours on the ranch and was a partner to him as the winery building and bottle-shaped pool were completed in 1993. Sadly Tom, the heartbeat of Limerick Lane, passed away unexpectedly, and Karen moved away and pursued her business career.
With an economics degree from Dartmouth, a Harvard MBA, and a sense of adventure, she moved to Detroit, where she made a name for herself as one of the youngest female leaders in the automotive industry. A marketer at heart, she became the General Manager of the Oldsmobile division of GM and then a VP at Ford Motor Company. After many years in Michigan, she returned to the Bay Area.
Karen came back to Limerick Lane in 2002 and lived at the winery, worked harvest, poured in the tasting room, and worked markets with distributors thinking that the time might be right to return to the magical place that held so many memories. But in 2004, another great career opportunity, as CEO of an advertising agency, jumped up and pulled her to San Francisco. This time though, she held on to the captivating old vines on the Lane by buying the famed Ricci vineyard just next door to the original Limerick Lane property. For years, Karen spent time in her vineyard and Healdsburg as a grower in the wine industry and as a Board member for Copia, The American Center for Food, Wine, and the Arts. On one particularly special trip to her vineyard in 2021, Karen and her husband, Rick, stopped up the street to see the hilltop views from the esteemed Cypress Ridge Vineyards on Limerick Lane. The gravitational pull was strong, and they bought the 12-acre parcel of zinfandel and petite sirah, which gave them even more reason to spend time in Healdsburg.
Fast forward a year later, and a fateful lunch with a girlfriend up the street on Limerick Lane would soon change several paths. Jake Bilbro, her neighbor and the previous winery owner had moved to Idaho before the pandemic and decided to stay there with his family. Finding a new owner for Limerick Lane became a priority. Karen learned about this, and the rest is history. Almost 30 years after she had first walked amongst the vines, swam in the pool, and held her breath on late-night punch downs, Karen was back as the owner of Limerick Lane Cellars. With the addition of her vineyard properties, Limerick Lane is now a 53-acre estate solidifying its position as one of the most iconic vineyard locations in the Russian River Valley. Karen is thrilled to help grow the business and share the elegant Limerick Lane wines uniquely crafted here on the Lane. Karen, her husband Rick, and their family all share a love and appreciation of the earth, gardening, growing fruits and vegetables, and cooking together.
Destiny, fate, kismet…an incredible journey has finally come full circle with more chapters to be written!
Karen Francis DeGolia can be contacted at email@example.com.
Chris Pittenger, Winemaker
Chris’ passion for winemaking was born during his college years at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo where a viticulture course set him on his path. His first job out of college was at the prestigious Wally’s wine shop in L.A, where he was exposed to the best wines of the World and gravitated towards Burgundy, the Rhone, and Piedmont. From there he moved to Jackson Hole to refine his palate (and snowboarding skills) in The Tetons while working as a sommelier in the wine-centric Restaurant Terroir.
Chris always wanted to make wine and jumped at an opportunity to intern at Robert Biale in Napa, working with old vine Zinfandel vineyards. This was followed by vintages at Torbreck (Australia), Williams-Selyem (Healdsburg), and finally, four harvests at West Sonoma Coast winery Marcassin (under Helen Turley).
Chris then spent 11 years as winemaker at Rhone focused Skinner Vineyards in El Dorado, where he championed Mourvédre and Grenache in the regions’ granitic soils and high elevation vineyards.
When Chris returned to Healdsburg to work at Limerick Lane, he felt an immediate connection to this historic vineyard. His goal for this iconic site is to showcase its beauty, grace, structure, and precision through the Limerick Lane wines. To this end he draws from an old world palate developed over two decades, combined with a gentle touch learned while working under some of the world’s most respected winemakers.
Chris Pittenger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jake Neustadt, Consulting Viticulturist
Jake Neustadt earned his B.S. in Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis in 2014 with a desire to farm grapes. In 2015, he worked on a field crew growing Pinot noir in Central Otago (New Zealand) before joining Ridge Vineyards to work with California’s historic vineyards. He is now a California State Certified Pest Control Adviser and the in-house viticulturist for Bedrock Wine Co, a fellow member of the Historic Vineyard Society. Taking inspiration from the remarkable sustainability of the ancient vines, Jake farms Limerick Lane with minimal irrigation (often dry-farming) and establishes many new blocks using the same, Gobelet-style pruning system. Along with these lessons, Jake also incorporates modern agroecological practices such permanent cover crops and polyculture to ensure that the vineyard can foster a healthy biosphere both above and below the ground.
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