Ryan Zepaltas

Our Team

 

Ryan Zepaltas

Ryan Zepaltas

Winemaker & General Manager

It’s hard to imagine a more ideal successor to Copain’s winemaking legacy than Winemaker and General Manager Ryan Zepaltas.

While he can’t imagine being anything other than a winemaker today, Ryan’s career certainly didn’t start that way. He grew up in the beer-drinking culture of Wisconsin, where wine just wasn’t part of the picture. After college, Ryan moved to Sebastopol, CA, to live with relatives and pursue his real passion at the time: skateboarding. A self-described skateboard “addict,” Ryan knew that the San Francisco Bay Area was the place to be if you wanted to “make it” in skateboarding (whatever that means). After two weeks, he was broke and searching for a job. Luckily, one of Ryan’s new friends was the cellar master at La Crema and offered him a harvest job at the winery.

Ryan envisioned hanging out with friends, making and drinking wine all day – and getting paid for it. It sounded perfect. While it didn’t turn out to be precisely that, it wasn’t long before Ryan’s interest in the art of winemaking was piqued. He even traveled to the Southern Hemisphere for an opportunity to work a harvest at New Zealand’s acclaimed Villa Maria. What started as a fun adventure turned into an epiphany. While there, Ryan realized that, more than just a job, winemaking was what he wanted to do with his life. After returning to the states, he helped at several wineries while looking for a full-time role at a small, artisan winery.

During the summer of 2000, Ryan interviewed at Siduri Wines, a then relatively unknown Pinot Noir producer housed in a Santa Rosa warehouse. He was particularly excited because Pinot Noir had become his favorite varietal. After meeting with winemakers Adam and Dianna Lee, and hearing their passion for making small batch, site-specific Pinot Noir, Ryan knew he’d found a home at Siduri. Over the next two decades, Ryan played an integral role in the quality and character of Siduri wines, first as Cellar Master and then as Assistant Winemaker and Winemaker.

In 2004, while still at Siduri, Ryan launched his own label, Zepaltas Wines, to focus on small-lot, cool-climate Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Then, in 2018, Ryan was offered, what he calls, his “dream job” as the Winemaker and General Manager for Copain. Today, he oversees all winery operations at Copain and continues the winery’s unwavering commitment to elegant, balanced, and food-friendly wines. Even more compelling than Ryan’s winemaking pedigree is his passion for Copain’s style of wines, the same style he championed under his own critically acclaimed Zepaltas Wines.

When not at the winery, Ryan spends time with his wife, Anna, and daughters, Audrey and Claire. And, occasionally, he still shreds.

 

 

Quin Donahue

Associate Winemaker

Growing up in Napa, Quin looked up to people working in the wine industry. They worked hard, and it looked like they had so much fun. Working with your hands and drinking wine? He thought, what’s not to love!? During his high school summers, Quin worked on a mobile bottling line and admired all the different wineries. As it became time to figure out what Quin wanted to do with his life, he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a winemaker. Quin studied Wine and Viticulture at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, with a concentration in Enology. 

Quin found a cellar position at Cambria Winery through a career fair and began “paying his dues.” Quin spent one year at Cambria Winery, learning cellar and lab operations, and then moved to Byron Winery, where he sharpened his Pinot Noir winemaking skills.

While Quin enjoyed his time on the Central Coast, he found it was time to come home. Back in Sonoma County, Quin moved into a large production facility in Geyserville - “I think learning how to make wine at that scale is crucial; you learn things you wouldn’t learn at smaller facilities, and you learn things quickly. A position opened at Copain, and the chance to work with small lots of high-end Pinot Noir and learn a new style of winemaking seemed like a dream!” – Quin Donahue.

Today, Quin works closely with Ryan Zepaltas on crafting premium lots of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah. He manages the day-to-day operations at the winery and still gets his hands dirty in the cellar. Quin oversees a couple of vineyards throughout the Sonoma Coast and collaborates with vineyard managers to nail the perfect picks during harvest. He is also responsible for crafting the Mendocino Rose, sourced from the Yorkville Highlands.

In his spare time, Quin loves spending time with his Fiancé in San Francisco, snowboarding during the winter, and perfecting his sourdough bread.

 

Chris Paul

Estate Manager

Chris has been a passionate advocate and integral member of Copain Wines since joining the team in early 2014. Chris was raised in Sonoma County and had earned degrees at Santa Rosa Junior College and UCLA. He spent the first several years of his professional career managing live theatre and is still a proud member of Actor’s Equity, having worked with premiere theatre companies such as Center Theater Group (Ahmanson, Mark Taper Forum) and the Geffen Playhouse. Chris also enjoyed working on Broadway, supporting the 9 to 5: The Musical’s world premiere in 2009.

However, after years in the hectic show business life, Chris started to imagine what life may be like should he permanently return to his Sonoma County roots. On a whim, Chris decided to pack up and move back to his hometown, Petaluma, and took a part-time job at a local winery with no wine experience. With his “Wine for Dummies” book in hand, Chris nervously reported for his first day on the job and quickly learned that his passion for connecting with people and entertaining (a la theatre!) allowed him to develop his love of wine and hospitality. After a few months of working part-time, Chris soon found his home at Copain, starting as a host and then being promoted to Estate Manager in 2016. For those curious, Chris has “paid it forward” and donated his Wine for Dummies book and is currently working toward completing his WSET 4 Diploma.

One of Chris’ favorite things at Copain is hosting guests for seated tastings and warmly welcoming them to our popular club events. He believes that the quality and care our winemaker has for our world-class wines should be reflected in our guest experiences. Chris leads a talented team that ensures every visit to Copain is memorable and is constantly finding innovative ways to raise the bar for hospitality in the beautiful Sonoma County Wine Country.

 

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