Team

 

The Visionary

Mary McAuley, Owner/Founder

As a seasoned “clambaker,” sommelier, and culinary school graduate, our Founder and leader, Mary McAuley, had an “ah-ha” moment when charged with the task of selecting the wine for a clambake she threw with her friends back in August 2011 in her seaside hometown of Mantoloking, NJ. What started with the humble intention of making a “family wine” for personal clambakes turned into a local cult following when McAuley realized the void for trustworthy brands on the American wine market, and felt compelled to bring her idea to the masses. Ripe Life’s first wine, the Clambake Chardonnay, hit the shelves in July 2013 and was an instant success. At Ripe Life, she oversees every aspect of production, from vineyard procurement to winemaking direction with her team. She is solely responsible for creative direction, business development, and the sales and marketing of over 20 major wholesale markets. Before graduating from The Institute of Culinary Education and, later on, The French Culinary Institute, she attended Georgetown University, where she was a member of the Division I National Champion sailing team. She still makes it out on the water any chance she gets.

The Craftsman

Jason Driscoll, Head Winemaker

Head winemaker Jason Driscoll is an undisputed rising star here in Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Most recently scoring 96 points on his privately labeled Pinot Noir, Hibou, Driscoll is a master of his craft when it comes to Burgundian varietals and believes all wines should bespeak of their native terroir. After obtaining a degree in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, Driscoll catapulted himself into the fast and furious world of winemaking, landing some of the most competitive apprenticeships in the industry at wineries such as Chalk Hill, Elsom Cellars, and the world-class custom-crush facility of Hunicutt. Driscoll comes to us after two and a half years under the tutelage of world-famous David DeSante as assistant winemaker for DeSante Wines and now the sole proprietor and head winemaker for The Driscoll Family Wine Co. As an Amagansett native, the Clambake label speaks to Driscoll’s east coast roots, but it is McAuley’s dedication to single-vineyard and small-batch production that captured his soul. Before attending culinary school, Jason obtained his degree in International Relations from Pepperdine University, where he also discovered his other passion in life: his wife Hilary. Together they have two children and live in St. Helena, CA.

The Manager

Cody Ewers, Winemaking Operations

As equally important to the art of farming and winemaking are the logistics behind the scenes of getting the grapes into the winery, the wine into bottles, and the bottles on their way to your hands. And that is where Cody Ewers comes in. A former cellar hand at the esteemed Hunicutt Winery (where he and Driscoll originally met), Ewers is now one of the most highly regarded vineyard and winery supply brokers in Northern California. He has been a sales representative for several industry giants such as Central Valley Builders Supply, Seguin Moreau, and most recently, Western Square Industries. In addition, as the sole proprietor and head winemaker of The Preamble Wine Company, Ewers understands firsthand his support role to McAuley and Driscoll as it pertains to the best tools and organization tactics needed for the smoothest possible work flow in the naturally unpredictable art of making wine. With a Bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy from Hillsdale College, Ewers also possesses an unwavering passion for good political and philosophical banter only to be rivaled by his quest of for good food. He lives in St. Helena, CA with his golden retriever puppy, Reagan.

The Sales Guy

J.B. O’Brian, Partner & Chief Sales Officer

J.B. has been a vital, yet unofficial, team member and ambassador for Ripe Life Wines since its inception, and has now officially come on board as Partner and Chief Sales Officer. It is through J.B. that Mary, his long-time friend, came to meet Cody and Jason, amongst many other industry insiders who make Ripe Life Wines what it is today. Prior to coming on board, J.B. worked for Napa Valley’s Robert Sinskey Vineyards in National Sales where he also stepped in as a sous chef many times for special events, a testament to his pervasive team player mentality. His rapid climb up the ranks at RSV from a part-time tasting room server, to tasting room manager, all the way to national sales is a telltale for just how well J.B. can connect with varying consumers and how they each individually relate to wine. Prior to transitioning into the world of wine sales, J.B. worked in the kitchen at the Michelin-starred SPQR in San Francisco and Farmstead Restaurant in Napa Valley. The combination of J.B.’s love of hunting, fishing, gardening, and “living off the land,” along with his training at the Culinary Institute of America (where he and Jason were friends) and SPQR, not only makes him a natural fit for our company’s mission, but has also led to our team’s enjoyment of his many “backyard meals” that rival some of the best dishes in the Valley. Prior to attending the CIA, J.B. studied accounting and finance at the University of Vermont and then worked in corporate real estate in his hometown of Washington D.C. for four years. Despite much time spent on the road for sales, St. Helena, CA is still where he keeps his home which he gratefully shares with his one, true love: his rescue pit-bull, Lady.

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