Mary Sullivan

Mary Sullivan

Winemaker (Winemaker Emerita)

Mary Sullivan, a graduate of Sonoma State University, is a long-time winemaker who started in the industry when very few women were established winemakers. Her first position was at Sonoma Vineyards in 1973 where she worked in the lab under well-known winemaker Dick Arrowood. Mary quickly picked up the lab technology and then graduated to tasting and blending. She soon joined Sebastiani Vineyards in 1975 as enologist and was promoted to winemaker in 1980. As winemaker, she initiated the Estate collection of single-vineyard bottlings, including the highly renowned Cherry Block Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1986, Mary was named as Director of Winemaking, where she was responsible for winemaking direction and management until 2001 for Sebastiani’s locations in Sonoma and Lodi, CA. In this latter position at Sebastiani, she was one of the first female Directors of Winemaking at a major winery.

Mary then joined Beringer Vineyards in 2001 as winemaker for the Stone Cellars brand. She used her tasting and blending skills to refine the product, earning a “Best White Wine of the World” award at the Los Angeles County Fair for her 2002 Chardonnay. In 2005 she was promoted to winemaker, Premium Brands, making the wine for a number of Beringer brands, including Beringer Founders Estate and Greg Norman Estates.

After leaving Beringer in 2009, Mary focused on winemaking and business consulting. In 2010, she joined Bear Creek Winery in Lodi as senior winemaker, remaining there until leaving for semi-retirement in 2016. She was involved in all aspects of wine production, with special emphasis on the red varietals. As senior winemaker, she led six harvests, with increasing volume and complexity of the wines over the period.

Mary lives in Santa Rosa with her husband of over 40 years and her standard poodles. Their hobbies are hiking with the dogs, following local sports — especially the San Francisco Giants and college basketball — enjoying the local food and wine scene, and keeping up with their large extended family.