Sally Johnson Blum

Sally Johnson Blum

Tamber Bey Vineyard (Winemaker)

Sally Johnson Blum’s journey to becoming a lead winemaker was a winding one. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, she attended the university there and was planning a career in the biotechnology industry. Her goal changed, however, when studying abroad in France in Brittany and Paris, while completing a dual degree in French literature and Biology in 1996.

While soaking up the Continental lifestyle, she became fascinated by the rich history of the wine industry, its connection to the seasons, and the craftsmanship involved in creating a distinctive cuvée. She returned home and enrolled in the Master’s Degree program in Enology at the University of California, Davis. There, her research centered on the effect of deficit irrigation on flavor development in Cabernet Sauvignon, leading to a passion for this varietal that has blossomed during her winemaking career. She completed the program in 1999.

After leaving U.C. Davis, Sally spent eight years as the winemaker at St Francis Winery & Vineyards in Sonoma County. She took a brief hiatus in 2002 to work a harvest at St Hallett Winery in Australia’s Barossa Valley and also made Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah under her own label for three vintages.

In 2007, Sally joined the team at Pride Mountain Vineyards in the Napa Valley, where she also crafted wine for custom clients, Sequum and Schoolhouse, and for golfer Cristie Kerr's partnership with Suzanne Pride on the Curvature project, a wine whose proceeds go to breast cancer research. Her many accolades during her time at Pride included two Robert Parker 100-point scores, two wines on the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines list, multiple wines featured in White House state dinners during every administration of her tenure, and being named #3 on Glamour magazine’s “Top 10 Most Badass Women Winemakers” list.

Sally left Pride Mountain Vineyards in 2022 to become part of the team at Robert Mondavi Winery, a unit of Constellation Brands International, as its Director of Winemaking. Other members of the team included Geneviève Janssens, Mondavi's longtime chief winemaker, and winemakers Kurtis Ogasawara and Lauren Oliver.

Sally left Mondavi in early 2023 to focus on her consulting business, SJB Winemaking, that she launched that same year. She has clients in both California and Washington and lists George and Rich Hincapie’s 17 Wines brand and Dennis Cakebread’s Mullan Road Cellars among them. She is also the winemaker for the state-of-the-art Tamber Bey Vineyards winery in Calistoga.

Sally lives in the wine country with her husband and two children. Among her outside interests are ice skating, Peloton, cooking, and traveling.