Dana Epperson, a third-generation Sonoman, stands as the talented winemaker guiding Decoy’s winemaking journey. Her role involves a harmonious collaboration with vineyard and winemaking teams to ensure the wines distinctly carry the Decoy signature style while maintaining an unwavering commitment to quality.
Growing up amidst the picturesque vineyards of Sonoma County, Dana’s passion for winemaking was ignited in her youth by family friend and renowned winemaker, Sarah Quider. This early connection spurred Dana to delve into food science, and she pursued in-depth courses in wine analysis and viticulture at Cal Poly. A pivotal internship at Ferrari-Carano during her studies cemented her aspiration to become a winemaker. Upon graduation, Dana joined Ferrari-Carano, gaining invaluable hands-on vineyard experience.
In 2007, Dana assumed the role of enologist at Edna Valley Vineyard in San Luis Obispo, progressing to enologist and grower relations responsibilities at Napa Valley’s Artesa Vineyards & Winery. Under the mentorship of Mark Beringer, Artesa’s winemaker and former Duckhorn Vineyards winemaker, Dana imbibed the essence of a “light touch” winemaking philosophy that aims for classic, balanced wines. This wisdom would later shape her approach at Decoy.
Following her tenure at Artesa, Dana’s winemaking journey took her to Napa Valley’s Jamieson Ranch Vineyard, overseeing esteemed brands like Reata, Whiplash, and Light Horse. Fruit for Decoy’s remarkable wines stems from a blend of Estate vineyards and top grower vineyards across Sonoma County. The winemaking process involves nearly 150 individual fermentations each vintage, with meticulous practices like open-top punch downs and lees stirring.
Dana’s dedication to small-lot attention to detail shines through in Decoy’s artful blending. She emphasizes the significance of hand-sorting, the use of fine coopers and French oak, and a commitment to craft. With access to the exceptional resources of The Duckhorn Portfolio, Decoy’s wines benefit from the culmination of remarkable viticultural talent and world-class cooperage.
In alignment with The Duckhorn Portfolio’s ethos, Decoy’s grapes, whether Estate or from top growers, undergo meticulous care in the vineyard and receive Dana’s meticulous touch in the winery. The journey from vine to bottle exemplifies Dana Epperson’s unwavering commitment to crafting wines that embody Decoy’s distinctive style and uncompromising quality.