Meet The Tierra Roja Team
Linda Neal, Owner
After 20 years as a Vineyard Manager and CFO of M&L Vineyard Management, Linda has stepped away from managing vineyards for others and is concentrating full time on her own vineyards and wine.
“I am so excited to be in my own vineyard everyday. I am doing as much of the work myself as I can. When the work is too hefty, Ruben sends a fantastic team from Rubio’s Vineyard Management to help me. Even with their help, I have the chance to look at every pruning cut and baby every vine. Taking care of four and a half acres is so different from several hundred.”
Her desire to become a farmer began in High School. After growing up in Southern California, she moved to the central Napa Valley town of Oakville.
From September 2018 to the end of 2020, Linda will be serving in the Peace Corps, in Morocco. Follow her blog for a glimpse into this adventure!
“In high school I became involved with the Future Farmers of America (FFA). I came to realize that agriculture was the only essential industry and I wanted to be a part of that.” Linda worked her way up by earning degrees in Business and Ag Business and holding jobs in the sales of Ag products.
She started working in the Napa Valley in 1983 while representing the French Company, Rhone Poulenc. She moved to Napa Valley after marrying Michael Neal and bought the Tierra Roja property in 1987. “Michael and I were newlyweds and it was tough. We put everything we had into the property and the business. It wasn’t a question of if we were having pasta for dinner, but whether we could afford to put cheese on top.”
“We did not even consider having a winery back then, we both just loved the farming. Through hard work, the vineyard management business became a great success. Now, I am so thrilled to bring all our history and the history of this property together into a wonderful wine, to be shared with all who want a taste of the real vineyard life.”
As Linda launches this new venture, she continues to be involved with the community and FFA through the local St. Helena High Ag Boosters, Oakville Winegrowers, Napa Valley Grape Growers, Farm Bureau and Farm Service Agency.
Linda also serves on the Vine Village Celebration Committee. Vine Village, Inc. is a non-profit program in Napa for people with developmental disabilities, and the Celebration is their major annual fundraiser.
Ruben Rubio, and the Rubio Vineyard Management team, has been my right hand for the past 10 years. Before starting his own company, Ruben already had a long resume in the Vineyard Management business, including time with my former company. I enjoy working together in the vineyard with Ruben and his team, but I also know that while I am in Morocco, the vines could not be in better hands.
James Lee & Lindsey Gorfine
James Lee, citizen of both Korea and the U.S., lives in St. Helena, working as a procurer of wines for his father, who has a wine distribution company in Korea, as well as chemical brokering and currency trading. James has been very active in the wine industry on a national and international level. He holds his Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Diploma (level 4)
Lindsey Gorfine, citizen of both Canada and the U.S., lives in St. Helena, currently Visitor Center Coordinator for Mondavi Winery. Her family history in wine goes back to the establishment of Southern Wine and Spirits. She has participated in many national and international wine events. In June she will complete her Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Diploma (level 4).
In addition to managing all customer service and office duties, James and Lindsey will be living at Tierra Roja, tending the garden and animals while I am away.
Beginning with the 2015 vintage, Jeff Ames (right) is the winemaker for Tierra Roja. Jeff is acclaimed for many of his wines, including his own Rudius brand. Jeff has been making wine from Tierra Roja grapes since 2010, as the winemaker for Tor Kenward (left), where he fashions the TOR Tierra Roja vineyard designate, among others. He also blends some of the Tierra Roja fruit into Rudius.