Winemaker Randall Watkins grew up on a vineyard located in the foothills of Taylor Mountain in Sonoma County. His father was a garagiste, creating rustic Zinfandel and crisp Chardonnay in a barn on their property with the help of friends who were paid in wine. Beginning when he was only 10 years old, Randall participated in the annual harvest and grape crush, and as he grew older he continued to learn about farming and fermentation from his father.
In 1993, Watkins received a bachelor's degree in sociology and management from the University of California, Davis. After a brief stint working for an environmental consultant in San Francisco, Watkins again felt the call of the wine country. He continued his hands-on winemaking training, working in the cellars and labs of Buena Vista Winery and Hartford Family Winery in Sonoma County, as supervisor of red wine fermentations at Carmen Vineyards in Chile, and as assistant winemaker at S. Anderson Vineyards in Napa. Watkins then returned to UC Davis, where he rounded out his practical knowledge by completing a master's degree in enology in 1999. Watkins went on to produce stellar wines over the next 7 years as winemaker and General Manager for Carmenet Winery and Moon Mountain Vineyard.
Throughout his winemaking experience, Watkins found that grapes from hillside vineyards produced red wines of incredible richness, depth and concentration. After making Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards in Sonoma, Rutherford, Stags Leap, Red Hills, Mendocino, Monterrey, and Chile, Watkins discovered that his favorite big red wines were consistently from vineyards located in the Mayacama Mountains. "I loved the wines that came from the mountain fruit of Monte Rosso Vineyard, Moon Mountain Estate, and the top of Nuns Canyon. Then one day I met with John Bugay at the summit of Bugay Vineyards in the northwest Mayacama Mountains, and I was blown away by the vineyard site and the quality of the wines that it produced!" Soon after, Watkins left Moon Mountain for the opportunity to make wine for Bugay Vineyards.
"All of Bugay Vineyards wines come from their estate vineyard, which means that we have complete control of quality. John Bugay would never cut corners on farming practices because the grapes are going into his own wine - in fact, he insists on the highest level of care in his immaculate vineyard. Standing in the middle of Bugay Vineyards gives you a sense that you are in a very special place on earth, and a glass of the wine confirms it above and beyond!"