Vice president and general manager, The Vintners Group
3750 E. Woodbridge Rd., Acampo 95220; 707-939-9349; www.carnerosvintners.com; www.lodivintners.com
Career: president and co-founder, Vintage Wine Equipment, 2000-present; Lodi Vintners Inc., 2001-present; vice president and general manager, The Vintners Group, May 2008 - present
Industry outlook: “Oregon has a ton of vineyards that have not come into production and is rumored to not have enough wineries. In California, demand for custom crush will continue to grow because more and more people are realizing that it’s all about the brand. Some consulting winemakers we’re talking to are pushing owners of the brands not to build a winery because they need to spend their efforts and money on marketing.”
Favorite tasks: Designing a new custom facility to handle varying client needs, especially with presses and tanks. Purchasing grapes for bulk-wine ventures.
Admired wine pioneers: Virtual vintners focus on brands. Custom crush winemakers put client brands ahead of their own recognition. “I look up to Robert Mondavi because he was from Napa and spent a lot of time in Lodi. He did a lot for both areas.”
Residence: Sacramento; plans to return to the North Coast in six months
Family: wife, Jenni Rippey
Current reading: “Refrigeration for Winemakers” by Ray White, Ben Adamson and Bryce Rankine; “Winery Wastewater Handbook” by Jeanette Chapman, Phillip Baker and Sabina Wills
Stress relievers: Hunting, fishing and camping
Words that describe you: Driven, focused, outgoing, humorous
SONOMA CARNEROS – Dennis Rippey is the name behind the scenes of a growing custom-winemaking portfolio called The Vintners Group, but his 29-year-old son, Tyson, has been driving and overseeing company growth, with expansions at a large winery in Lodi, a similar winery under construction near Sonoma and other wine ventures in the offing.
The group consists of Lodi Vintners Inc., which is a 6 million-gallon-a-year custom winemaking business in the Lodi-Woodbridge winegrowing region, and Carneros Vintners Inc., a 52,000-square-foot winery under construction at 4204 Stage Gulch Road near Sonoma.
Tyson Rippey manages the Lodi operation, is helping to design and guide the Carneros project and has been scouting for opportunities to acquire wineries suitable for custom-processing in Napa Valley, the Central Coast and potentially other West Coast states.
“Growing up in Napa surrounded by wine and friends who make wine, when I turned 21 I dove head first into the industry,” he said. He currently lives in the Sacramento area with his wife, Jenni, but they’re looking to relocate to the North Coast in coming months.
In 2001 at age 21, he joined Lodi Vintners as a cellar worker and worked his way up to management, eventually adding business development and grape sourcing for speculative bulk-wine sales to his task list.
In recent years, Tyson Rippey has been building capacity and the reputation of the family name in the Lodi-Woodbridge winegrowing region and looking for opportunities outside the area. “I’ve helped steer Dad in the direction of putting his focus and effort in the wine business,” he said.
Dennis Rippey of Napa built a career in residential and commercial real estate construction. He started acquiring Napa Valley vineyards in the mid-1980s and recently has been adding to his holdings. In 1991 Mr. Rippey acquired the former Turner Winery near Woodbridge as an investment with potential for redevelopment.