The Elke Family
Tom and Mary Elke started Elke Vineyards back in 1979. Drawn to the land, they bought vineyards and orchards in Napa and Anderson Valley. With their two young boys in tow, they set about learning to grow grapes the old-fashioned way - by just doing it, and overcoming the challenges along the way.
Originally, the Elke's Anderson Valley property was planted with organic apple trees, and Mary was known for years for the apple juice that she produced. Over time, she realized the potential of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on the land, and began planting grapevines. In 1997, she launched the Elke wine brand and the first commercial production of Elke wines, and she has been running the business since then. She has served as president of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association.
Mary has sometimes defied conventional wisdom in her grape growing. The customers for her grapes, which include some of the finest Pinot Noir wineries in California, seem to vindicate her approach. In any case, Mary's deep understanding of her land and vines, and her commitment to hard work, continue to shine through. You will still find her driving a tractor through the vineyard, encouraging the grape pickers at 4am, and helping out with winemaking.
Matt Elke (Tom and Mary's son, pictured above in the vineyard with Mary) has always felt a special attachment to the family's home ranch in Anderson Valley, and he is now managing that land.
Matt Evans, Winemaker
Matt has been our winemaker since 2010. Although he also makes wine in New Zealand, Matt looks forward to being back in Anderson Valley each year to make the Elke wines. "Our vineyards are special, they combine great soils with carefully selected vines, and those vines have developed deep and healthy root systems. Year after year, they produce superb fruit. However, I am also drawn to Elke Vineyards because of Mary Elke and her approach to farming, winemaking, and life in general." Matt is passionate about using traditional, hand-crafted winemaking to encourage our grapes to tell their own story of soil, vine, and weather.
Glad Donahue, Tasting Room Manager
Not only does Glad keep our tasting room running, she also makes sure that visitors enjoy a real experience of our land and wine, she helps out in tasting and blending our wines, and she has even put her children to work picking grapes. Raised in Anderson Valley, Glad brings an understanding of the history of the place, as well as of the people, animals, plants, and insects (ask her about her beekeeping) that inhabit it. And no, that is not wine that she is pouring for her kids.
Jesus Perez, Vineyard Manager
Jesus has been helping the Elke family in Anderson Valley from the very beginning. He is the person who gets up in the middle of the cold winter nights when the frost alarm goes off, and he is the person who makes sure that the vines get the care they need in the middle of the hottest summer days. It is not an exaggeration to say he knows every single vine on the property.