In 1980, Napa Valley residents Jerry and Pat Taylor, along with their children Scott, Sandy, and Mike, took on the ultimate do-it-yourself project: converting ten acres of the family’s 23-acre ranch in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley to vineyard. This experience of the five family members, on their hands and knees planting and tending young vines, was a dream come true for Jerry, a fifth-generation Napa County resident who had grown up on his family’s farm.
As the vineyard grew and matured, so did the family tending it. The next generation, Sandy and her husband, Phil Carlson, were the driving force behind the creation of Taylor Family Vineyards as a wine brand. This next venture was a way to honor the family’s deep roots in the Napa farming community while keeping an eye to its future: creating a legacy by transforming the fruits of their labor into fine wine.
The inaugural vintage of Taylor Family Vineyards was the 2002. The winery now produces 1,000 cases of wine per year, which is available only through the winery.
And today, every member of the sixth and seventh generations of the Taylor family has helped out in the vineyard or with the winemaking—growing grapes and making wines as they try to live their lives: striving always for balance.
Jerry Taylor: Director of Vineyard Operations
Pat Taylor: Secretary and Vice President
After growing up in a farming family here in Napa County, Jerry joined the Air Force and served as an aircraft mechanic during the Korean War. He met Pat when he returned and they married in 1955. Two sons, Scott and Mike, and a daughter, Sandy, followed. Jerry worked as an operating engineer on construction projects, such as the San Mateo Bridge and San Francisco’s Transamerica Building, and Pat was a respected real estate agent here in Napa Valley, who helped other families achieve their dreams of owning property.
In 1976, Jerry’s dream of returning to the land became a reality when the family purchased a 23-acre ranch in the Stags Leap District. They planted the vineyard in 1980, and Jerry could be seen driving tractor from dawn until dusk when not working his day job, usually with his trusty Rottweiler tagging along beside him. In 1993, Jerry was able to “retire” to full-time farming, which he now continues to do as director of vineyard operations.
Pat retired from real estate in 2011 and now works in all areas of winery operations, from tasting in the cellar to working the bottling line to helping with sales and marketing.
Sandy’s wine career started with an “internship” in the family vineyard, planting, pruning and tying vines under the guidance of her father, Jerry. After graduation from college, she learned the business end of wine by working as a controller for several other Napa wineries. But ultimately, her love for the land drew her back to the family business, where she launched it into its next phase: producing wines under the Taylor Family Vineyards label. As president, Sandy oversees the daily operations of the winery, as well as the sales and marketing of the wines.
Director of Production/CFO
Phil Carlson is a Naval Academy graduate and a commercial airline pilot, and his time in the air funded the take-off of his and Sandy’s dream of launching a family wine label. He began his wine career as an apprentice to Jerry in the vineyard, then moved on to apprentice in the cellar to winemaker Gustavo Brambila. He now splits his time between flying and the family business. And as director of production, his responsibilities keep him directly involved in both the vineyard and the winery operations.
Assistant Director of Vineyard Operations
Mike grew up in the vineyard, working alongside Jerry. His early days were spent removing rocks from the vineyard and tying vines, but he soon advanced to tractor driving (“I was driving tractors as soon as I could reach the pedals,” he admits), pruning and suckering. In addition to the hands-on education provided to him during his youth, Mike worked for both a vineyard management company and a winery before returning to Taylor Family Vineyards as a partner in 2011. He now oversees the day-to-day vineyard operations, a steward of the lands and vines that he grew up next to.