Foley Sonoma and Foley Family Wines are excited to announce that Rosalio (Chalo) Fernandez has been named winemaker for Foley Sonoma Winery in Geyserville, California.
Chalo started his career in the wine industry by working in the vineyards, moving over to the tasting room at St. Supery Estate Vineyards & Winery shortly after. Working in the tasting room gave him the opportunity to meet people from all of the world who share his love for wine, and there his curiosity about the “what, why, and how” led him to exploring the art of winemaking.
For the past 10 years, Chalo has worked in the wine cellar on wine production and considers himself lucky to have worked alongside of the wine industry’s most talented: Trevor Durling (Provenance Vineyards, Winemaker), John Hazak (Sterling Vineyards, White Wine Program Winemaker), and Harry Hansen (Sterling Vineyards Director of Winemaking), who also mentored Chalo during his years with Sterling. During this time, Chalo put in extra work after-hours to earn his Associate’s Degree in Winemaking from Napa Valley College.
In 2016, Chalo joined talented winemaker Courtney Foley at Foley Sonoma, continuing to grow and develop his skill-set and knowledge — and now, with Courtney’s recent transition to Chalk Hill Estate, Chalo will have an opportunity to put his experience into motion has he takes over as winemaker for Foley Sonoma.
The question of who was fit to take over winemaking at Foley Sonoma was an easy one to answer – of course, it should be Chalo! For anyone who has had the pleasure of spending a day at the winery with him, it should become very clear that Chalo has found what he was meant to do when it comes to winemaking. Further, he is a particularly great fit for Foley Sonoma because he has a multi-faceted interest set. For a small property, you need a winemaker who is a jack of all trades; someone who is equally interested in bringing in beautiful fruit and thoughtfully tending to wine as it gracefully ages, but is also detail-oriented enough to tackle compliance and accounting issues and doesn’t mind moving furniture and cleaning fountains to assist with winery events. After working with Chalo for two years, it is evident that he is capable and competent to do all of this, and his shining personality makes him an asset to a property where all wine is sold directly out of the tasting room. Guests love visiting with Chalo and hearing how passionate he is not only about winemaking, but working with Alexander Valley fruit, and our estate vineyards in particular. Being a two-person team, Chalo was integral to setting the tone for our wines, and his many years of experience were invaluable as we tackled this new project. He understands how to make high-quality, clean wines that allow the fruit to speak for itself, and I know he endeavors to continue to do that far into the future. It was a joy working with Chalo for two years, and creating the Foley Sonoma brand together, and know that he will continue to be an asset to Foley Sonoma and FFW in general for years to come.– Courtney Foley