Kathy Joseph

Kathy Joseph

Fiddlehead Cellars (Winemaker & Proprietor)

Chicago native Kathy Joseph was restless with her pre-med research in the early 80s and took a leap of faith by moving to California with hopes of applying her bacteriology degree and background in microbiology and biochemistry to research in the wine industry. With no research jobs to be found, her carefree demeanor instead led her to winery stints at Simi Winery, where she was mentored by Zelma Long, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, and Long Vineyards in the period 1981–1983, and ultimately to graduate school in Enology at the University of California, Davis. Five years at Robert Pecota Winery as Head Winemaker followed her earning the M.S. degree in 1984.

With her North Coast education under her belt, she boldly designed her own winery, Fiddlehead Cellars, a company started in 1989 and focused exclusively on the lesser-appreciated varietals – at that time –Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Her lack of funds led her to explore winemaking in the then lesser-known districts of the now famous Willamette Valley and Santa Rita Hills (and Happy Canyon for Sauvignon Blanc).

All of Kathy’s wines are driven by the importance of texture. There are three unique styles of Sauvignon Blanc from Happy Canyon in the Santa Barbara AVA at the Eastern edge of the Santa Ynez Valley, three different Pinot Noirs from her Estate Vineyard, Fiddlestix, which is in the Santa Rita Hills, and two other Pinot Noirs from the Chehalem Mountains in Oregon.

Fiddlehead Cellars is appropriately named after the botanical term “fiddlehead”, the coiled tip of a fern that ultimately emerges as a very elegant leaf. This plant appropriately symbolizes the elegance Kathy creates in her wines and their once-a-year release.

Fiddlehead celebrated its 25rd vintage in 2013 and is distributed among high-end restaurants in 25 states and through an exclusive winery-direct Wine Club. Its focus remains true to Kathy’s passion and dedication to Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc and making wines of texture, elegance, and expression of place. As “Head Fiddle,” Kathy directs all of the site-specific and sustainable farming at all of her vineyards and provides the hands-on care and attention to each barrel of wine that fine wine requires. She crafts only 5,000 cases and continues to believe the love of winemaking must be reflected in every sip!

Over the years, Kathy has judged many wine competitions, taught classes at Napa Valley College and UC Davis, and has served on the boards of many professional organizations.