The Dirt on Peter, Our Winemaker (He loves dirt).

Posted: March 15, 2014

Peter Heitz, a 4th generation winemaker born and raised in the Napa Valley, has been the winemaker at Turnbull Wine Cellars since 2007. His approach to wine is respectful and straightforward—sourcing inspiration from the land and capturing the essence of our estate vineyards— producing exceptional wines. Under Peter’s leadership, Turnbull Wine Cellars has achieved five continuous vintages with wines rated at 95 points or higher by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate—our stellar 2010 Fortuna Cabernet Sauvignon recently garnering a perfect 100 points.

Raised in Carneros on one of the pioneering vineyards in the Napa Valley,Peter’s education in winegrowing started at a young age. Weekends were spent farming in Calistoga on land planted to vines in 1904 by his great-grandparents. Throughout his youth, Peter continued his wine education—tending vines, tasting fruit; understanding its spectrum of flavors, textures and densities, and learning how to farm to achieve balance. After attending UC Santa Cruz, he spent nine vintages crafting the venerable Beringer Reserve wines, starting in the cellar and working up to the role of Associate Winemaker.

Arriving at Turnbull Wine Cellars with the 2007 vintage, his life-long involvement and experience with wine was appreciated, and his creativity encouraged. Recognizing the stunning quality of Turnbull Wine Cellars’ vineyards, and endowed with the historic cellar, all the pieces came together to create wines which highlight the very best aspects of the vineyards. His focus on maintaining the integrity of the land and valuing sustainable farming, allows our vineyards to grow fruit that will reflect time and place for generations to come.

Peter believes that good wine should be “both interesting and delicious.” Along with Peter, his vineyard and cellar teams take ownership in their roles and make the best wine possible by keeping things simple—working hard and respecting the vines, the land, and each other. “It’s hard to imagine life without wine. For me, it is the fabric of social interaction. A good bottle can lend pause for thought and encourage conversation. I believe all Turnbull wines do just that.”

Peter lives in Calistoga with his wife Meg, daughter Amelia, and son Elijah. His family also includes rescue cats Slinky Malinky, and Eclipse, Australian Shepard Auri, and chickens; Yoko, Pickles, Mustard, and Lucile. When not farming or crafting wine, Peter likes to garden, hike, and cycle. His children think they live in “the sticks” and don’t yet appreciate their good fortune to be fifth generation Winegrowers in the Napa Valley.