Since 1991, Don Yannias has served as Chairman and President of Spring Mountain Vineyard.
Don is currently also the President of Boker Investment Management Inc., a private investment management company. From 1997 to 2001, he served as the Chief Executive Officer of Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. and currently maintains a seat on the Board of Directors of both firms, numerous other private companies, and Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.
Mr. Yannias received a B.S. in Business Administration in 1979 and an M.B.A.in Finance and Marketing in 1981 from The Ohio State University. He and his family reside in Chicago.
Born and raised in Saint Helena and into a winemaking family, Ron developed an interest in grape growing at an early age. His father, well known winemaker Theo Rosenbrand – whose achievements at Beaulieu and Sterling Vineyards are revered by wine collectors today – knew that great wines were made in the vineyard, not in the winery. Certainly influenced by this philosophy, Ron chose to study viticulture and graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1981.
After studying French viticulture in the Jura, Ron returned to his roots in Napa Valley. He managed the vineyards for Charles Krug before joining the Spring Mountain Vineyard team in 2003. Ron is dedicated to using his knowledge of terroir, rootstock and clonal selection, vine stress and canopy management to realize the full potential of each of Spring Mountain’s 135 vineyard blocks.
An innovator in developing new environmentally safe farming methods, Ron led the way in the use of predatory insects and bluebirds to naturally eradicate and control pests in the vineyard. Rather than accept the status quo, he formed alliances with UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz to develop the bio-friendly protocols that are used at SMV – and subsequently by other wineries in Napa and elsewhere. In 2010, recognizing Ron’s leadership, the California EPA gave Spring Mountain Vineyard its respected Innovator Award.
“I love what I do. I find it endlessly challenging and rewarding to be part of this special vineyard.”
Ron lives on the Spring Mountain Vineyard with his wife, Jacqueline, and their children. When not growing grapes, he enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family.
Dermot Whelan, Vice President Sales & Marketing
Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Dermot graduated from Terenure College in 1984. Graphic Design was his first calling and he joined the renowned Dublin Advertising Agency – DDFH&B. Having attended a prominent Rugby school, Dermot received an invitation in 1988 to play the sport in the U.S. and relocated to the west coast to play several seasons for the San Francisco Rugby Club. Following a two-year stint playing for the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Club in Colorado, he moved back to the Bay Area to plant roots. This is when he was introduced to the Wine & Spirits industry by friends working within the three-tier system.
In 1997, Dermot was hired by Southern Wine & Spirits at an entry level merchandising position. By 2000, Dermot had moved to a Wine Supplier role, managing Northern California business for Beringer Wine Estates. In 2005, he tried his hand on the Spirits side of the business managing the Western U.S. Region for Cruzan Rum from the Virgin Islands before it was sold to a larger Spirits corporation. Dermot worked for Constellation Wine & Spirits until 2010 when he was recruited by Young’s Market Co. to manage the East Bay region as Vice President of Sales.
Dermot started working at Spring Mountain Vineyard in the late Summer of 2017.
“The opportunity to work at such a magical place as Spring Mountain Vineyard took little hesitation on my part. My passion has always been with fine wine and the idea of representing a winery whose iconic history is matched only by its exceptional wine quality, is my dream role”.
Three decades later, Dermot is still a member of the San Francisco Rugby Club and enjoys being taken for walks by his Boxer LuLu. He lives in Pleasanton with his wife Tracy and their daughter Zoe, who graduates high school in 2020.
Originally from Geyserville in Northern Sonoma County, Barrett wasn't born into a winemaking family like many of his peers. Wine was always present in his family as his father was a small-town doctor to many winemakers who liked to share their wines with their physician.
Originally planning to follow in his father's footsteps with a career in a medical-based field, Barrett obtained an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
After graduation, Barrett returned home and took a job in a winery lab which he found much more stimulating than the microbiology lab where he had just completed interning.
Here was a field that combined some of his favorite things all into one application; a love of nature in agriculture, the technical aspects of science in fermentation, and the social aspects of the wine culture in sharing the final product to bring joy to others.
After working in wineries across Sonoma, Napa, and Australia, Barrett decided to take the next step and earned a graduate degree in Oenology and Viticulture from the University of Adelaide, Waite in South Australia.
Barrett spent seven years at an Estate Winery on Spring Mountain before joining the SMV team, and is happy to return "home."
"I love the transformative process of winemaking; you're taking an agricultural product and transforming it into a bottle of wine that is going to be shared around the dinner table; to be enjoyed, and to bring joy to others. It makes me happy to add to those intimate little moments in people's lives."
When not in the cellar/lab/vineyard, Barrett can be found being pulled through the streets of Saint Helena on his bike by his German Shorthaired pointer; his Daughters, Audrey & Cora, and Wife, Autumn, peddling frantically to try and keep up.
Born and raised in the Midwest, Keith spent his youth traveling extensively. He graduated from his Master’s Program in 1987 focusing his studies in Language, International Business and Law. He worked his way through his University years doing Pediatric Nephrology Research until he was hired by Wells Fargo Bank focusing on Mergers and Acquisitions. A few years later he was recruited to work in Saudi Arabia while he also ran family business’s located in the US.
In 2007 he relocated to California focusing on expanding the family business and raising his children. It was here that he fell in love with the Wine Culture of his adopted home and in 2009, through a serendipitous meeting with a winery owner and winemaker, became involved in the wine industry. For the last 7 years he has worked and consulted with wineries in multiple regions working both in the vineyard and in the tasting room.
Keith was introduced to Spring Mountain in 2017 and was offered the opportunity to join the team the following year.
“My passion for Spring Mountain Vineyard’s history, its outstanding library of wine, its beautiful mountain fruit and amazing staff, made this an easy choice to work here. The 10 minute commute is also great.”
Keith lives on Howell Mountain overlooking St Helena and in his spare time is restoring a midcentury modern home as well as continuing his passion for travel, food and hospitality.