Russell Weis, Silverado Vineyards

Russell Weis, Silverado Vineyards

“Let’s face it, wine is just so pleasurable,” said Russell Weis, the president of Silverado Vineyards.

“It’s so complex and interesting. It’s an amazing liquid.”

Besides that, “It’s a job that’s never done,” Weis added. “That’s what keeps your interest and keeps you thinking.”

Weis has been with Silverado Vineyards since 2004.

1. Which three people would you most like to have dinner with?

This question is way too hard! Couldn’t I have a series of dinners?

Henry Hagen, to ask him about the 1889 Paris World’s fair where his Cedar Knolls winery garnered a Silver Medal for wine from our Mt. George Vineyard.

Felix Borreo, to ask him about our Soda Canyon Ranch and its ghost winery as well as our 130-year-old olive trees and the origins of the olive oil business in Napa of which he was a founding father.

And finally, Abel McFarland, to talk about gold mining and gun fighting, and the first plantings of vinifera that he established here on our Silverado Vineyard.

2. What was your childhood ambition?

To be a either a cowboy or a concert pianist – it seriously was a toss-up. I studied classical piano for quite some time. I still ride horses.

3. What job would you like to try/not try?

Try: Orchestra conductor.

Not try: Whoever has to clean up after my pile of peanut shells after a Giants game – God bless you and I’m really sorry.

4. What’s the worst job you ever had?

Dishwasher at a summer camp in Wawona, Calif.

5. How did you get into this business/industry?

I started as a tour guide for the Christian Brothers at Greystone.

6. What’s a common misconception you get at Silverado Vineyards?

Some people think we’re the Silverado Resort and ask: “What do we need to do to get a tee time?”

7. Silverado Vineyards was founded by Ron Miller and Diane Disney Miller, one of Walt Disney’s daughters. Do you ever get asked about that?

Sometimes there is a misconception that we’re owned by the Disney Corporation. People forget this is really a Miller family project. (Silverado Vineyards) is their personal love affair with Napa Valley.

8. If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?

No one would ever be able to use their vast knowledge of wine to boost their self-esteem at the expense of someone else who might be simply enjoying this fantastic liquid.

9. What is the biggest challenge the wine industry has faced?

Prohibition, which continues to this day in various forms.

10. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

I was an English teacher in Japan at a sister school of PUC. It was an offer plunked down in my lap and all I had to do was say yes. What an opportunity to learn about a culture that is just so fascinating.

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Silverado Vineyards is located at 6121 Silverado Trail.


Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.