Winemaking Philosophy: Terroir is more than soil and weather, it's also people.

Charles McKahn was raised with the wine business as a part of his life.   When he was young, his mother worked in the export department of Wente Vineyards.  Dean Sylvester has been making wine in the Napa Valley for more than 35 years, previously at Whitehall Lane Winery. He has helped to build Whitehall Lane into a Cabernet Sauvignon powerhouse. He is directly responsible for three wines that have been rated as top five wines in the world by Wine Spectator, including a Cabernet Sauvignon rated #3 in the world and one rated as the “Best Red Wine in America.”

Sylvester’s affinity for wine began at an early age in upstate New York. It was wine and music for Sylvester in the 1960s. He learned to crank the guitar with a garage band and he began developing his wine palate when working at a local wine shop. His greatest musical influences converged with him at Woodstock; and on the wine side, his influences were mostly California reds. He followed his love of wine and music across the country and made it to Davis, California where he majored in Fermentation Science at UC Davis.

Sylvester is a detail-oriented winemaker who works closely with his crew in the cellar, but also keeps a watchful eye on the development of the grapes in the vineyard.

Prior to joining First Avenue Vineyards, Sylvester made wine at Whitehall Lane Winery, Newton Vineyards and Chimney Rock Winery as well as in Sonoma County.

Education: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA

                      Wine & Viticulture, B.S.

                      Enology, concentration

                      Olé Center for Spanish Language and Culture, Santiago de Querétaro, Querétaro, México

                      Certificate in Spanish Language and Mexican Culture