Assistant Winemaker

Record Breaking Achievements

Artisanal winemaking experience
2011 Wine Enthusiast Magazine
2016 North Bay Business Journal
Bob Cabral achieved a historic milestone as the inaugral North Amercian winemaker to attain a perfect 100-point score from Wine Enthusiast for his 2007 Litton Estate Pinot Noir, marking a groundbreaking achievement for North American Pinot Noir
46 WINES ACHIEVED 90+ Points
46 wines of BCW have achieved 90+ points
14 WINES ACHIEVED 90+ Points
14 wines of BCW portfolio that are scored 95+ points
4th Generation
4th Generation California Farmer
150+ wines rated at 95+ points
More than a 1,000 wines rated 90+ pts or higher

My Origin Story

REALLY, THERE’S SUCH AN OVERLAP FOR ME BETWEEN MUSIC AND WINE. I want to craft wines that touch a person’s soul, much like a favorite song can. Everybody has a song they like to crank up and listen to—a song that just engulfs all of the senses. For some people it’s Elton John, for others it’s Frank Sinatra or Bach. For me, it’s Petty and Zeppelin.

And that’s important, because winemaking is about an awakening of the five senses. Sight, touch, smell, and taste are relatively easy to accomplish. The bottle and packaging piques your interest. The color of the wine in your glass intensifies your curiosity as the aromas begin to fill the air. You taste the wine and your palate explodes with sensory information. The one thing wine can’t really do is appeal to your sense of hearing. I think that’s where music comes in, by hearing a song that touches your soul in the same way the wine does. In an attempt to connect more deeply with my wines, I correlate each label to an important song in my life. I challenge you to drink the wine and do the same. If you do, I guarantee the experience will be better every time.


I grew up on a 70-acre farm outside the small Central Valley town of Escalon. My family grew red wine-grapes and almonds, and everyone pitched in to help my dad, Robert Cabral, Sr., work the fields. By the mid- to late-1970s, red grape prices had fallen and we were experiencing a huge oversupply. One of our blocks in particular, an 80-acre parcel out near Manteca with 40-year-old carignan vines, got hit really hard. I had helped irrigate, spray, cultivate, and care for this beautiful crop all summer long, but in the fall, when I went back to high school for classes and to play football, my work on the ranches tapered off. During that Christmas break in 1977, my dad had asked me to help him out at the vineyard, and I went. When we got there, I saw this massive vineyard littered with dried, rotted grape clusters on each vine. The smell of vinegar, mold, and rot hung in the foggy air. I was stunned.

This was definitely a defining moment in my life—at that moment I had to figure out a way to make sure my dad and grandpa always had a home for their grapes. Subconsciously I wanted to know I would never see that look on my dad’s face again.


My first wine job was with Bronco Fresno, where I worked at a facility that made more than 18 million gallons (that was the smaller of their two facilities, if you can believe it). After I earned my bachelor’s degree (in enology, from Fresno State University), I got a job with a Vie-Del Wine Company, this time making wine at a 13-million-gallon facility. Winemaking on that scale is somewhat defensive—you identify problems and see what you can do to ensure you don’t make things worse. I wanted a change, so after eight years in the Central Valley I moved to Sonoma County, and got winemaking gigs with DeLoach, Kunde, Alderbrook and Hartford Court.

In those early jobs I took all of the energy I had for 13 million gallons and applied it to much smaller barrel lots. I learned a ton—not only about the ins and outs of cold soaking and fermenting, but bigger-picture issues such as problem-solving and troubleshooting processes that don’t go as planned. When I became the winemaker at Alderbrook, I was able to apply some of these lessons on an even more refined scale. I also paid much more attention to the vineyard, which was a nice change.


FINALLY, IN 1998, I GOT THE CHANCE TO MAKE WINE FOR WILLIAMS SELYEM. I was a huge fan of Burt Williams and those wines when I took the job; I had used part of my student loan to start buying the wine in the mid-1980s, and I was one of the first few hundred people on their list (Customer No. 576, to be exact). To have the chance to be winemaker there, to be the person in charge of deciding which vineyards to work with and which lots to use from those vineyards—it was, quite literally, a dream come true. After almost 17 years at the helm, the career of a lifetime, I needed to restructure where I was going and re-prioritize my time.

How involved have I been in making my wines? Very. From pruning to soil management to irrigation, I’m just as involved in growing the grapes as I am with making the wine. Out in the vineyard, I’m directing the thought process on what I believe is important to grow the best grapes. In the winery, when I blend these wines, I’m just as hands-on. Of course I can’t do all of it alone. I can’t load a press by myself. I can’t sort fruit by myself. It’s always a collaborate effort. I don’t ever want to lose sight of that. But I am doing everything I am physically able to do, and that’s what keeps me going on this project we’re calling Bob Cabral Wines.

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