Jeff started his adventure in the wine industry in 1977 when he interned with Seagrams at their Paul Masson Sherry Cellars in Madera while studying enology at UC Davis. Upon graduating in 1980, he worked in the cellar at Montevina in Amador County’s Shenandoah Valley and was promoted to winemaker in 1982. After a three year stint at the Napa Valley Cooperative Winery from 1987 through 1990, Jeff became the winemaker for the J. Lohr winery in San Jose. In 1994 Jeff took advantage of the proximity of the J. Lohr Winery to Santa Clara University and enrolled in the MBA program at the Leavey School of Business which he completed in 1997. It was during his tenure at J. Lohr that it became clear that he was going to have to make wine for himself.
In 1995 Jeff crushed ten tons of zinfandel from the Massoni Ranch in Amador’s Shenandoah Valley and on April First 1997 he released 700 cases of that Zinfandel under his own label. In 1996 and 1997 Jeff made his wine at the Sycamore Creek Winery in Morgan Hill where he traded winemaking services for the right to produce his wine in the Sycamore Creek facility. During the 1997 vintage Jeff met Ron McManis and in 1998 designed and helped build the McManis Family Vineyards winery in Ripon where he was senior winemaker until 2011. From 1998 through 2010 the Jeff Runquist Wines were produced in Ripon. During this time Jeff earned Winemaker of the Year honors from Dan Berger in 2003 and in 2009 was the recipient of the Andre Tchelistcheff award as the Winemaker of the Year from the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
The search for a home in Amador County for his own winery culminated in the fall of 2006 with the purchase of a small five acre walnut orchard on Shenandoah Road. Jeff and Margie broke ground in the spring of 2007 and a year later opened their tasting room. Production facilities followed and Jeff was able to move his production from Ripon to Plymouth in 2011.