September 27, 2022

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‘I’m At the Fun Stage Now in the Wine Business World,’ Says William Foley Lifetime Achievement Award Winner | Wine Enthusiast’s 2022 Wine Star Awards

William Foley
Photo by Alexander Rubin

Through steady, strategic investments in vineyards, wineries and brands over 26 years, and a parallel progression in winemaking quality, William Foley has become one of the most influential vintners in California.
The company he founded in 1996, Foley Family Wines, now includes in its portfolio such iconic wineries as Chalk Hill, Sebastiani, Firestone, Ferrari-Carano, Chateau St. Jean, Silverado Vineyards and many others in California and the Pacific Northwest, as well as investments in New Zealand, France and Argentina. Foley is Sonoma County’s third largest vineyard owner and estimates that his planted vineyard acreage in California and Oregon totals 7,000.
Foley Family Wines was ranked No. 20 this year in sales volume among U.S. wineries by Wine Business Monthly, before the recent addition of Silverado, and will soon reach two million cases.
Numbers like those might tie some owners into knots as they try to keep all the moving parts moving. Not Foley. The 77-year-old entrepreneur loves his role as a vintner, even when that job comes in addition to being executive chairman of the board for Fidelity National Financial and principal owner of the Vegas Golden Knights NHL hockey team.
“I’m at the fun stage now in the wine business world,” Foley says. “We have a home at Chalk Hill, and I get to be involved in blending sessions and barrel tastings at some of the wineries. So, it’s just an exciting business. I really enjoy it.”
The CEO of the largest U.S. wine and spirits distributor Wayne Chaplin, readily acknowledges this enthusiasm. “Bill Foley’s success is truly driven by his love for wine and passion for the wine industry. With that as a foundation, his creativity and adventurous spirit have driven him to acquire and build one of the most notable wine portfolios in the industry. I’m honored to know him, work with him, and to have Southern Glazer’s sell his incredible wines.”
Foley got into wine after much success in the title insurance business. In 1996 he and his wife Carol bought a 1,000-acre property in the Sta. Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County, founding Lincourt Vineyards. Foley Estate wines followed in 1998, but the portfolio really began to grow in 2007 with the addition of Firestone Vineyard in Santa Barbara. Since then, acquisitions have closed in 11 out of the past 14 years.
“I didn’t really know what I was doing at first, and I bought Firestone and didn’t really understand it,” Foley reflects. “I bought a bunch of distressed properties, trying to be a bottom feeder, but I moved away from that. I am now the other way. I am trying to buy really nice properties. Maybe they were not managed quite right, but in terms of the quality of the vineyards and the quality of the production facilities, they’re great.”
He cites Chalk Hill, in Sonoma County, as the most improved property. The beautiful, rolling grape and horse ranch is celebrating its 50th anniversary and recently hosted the Sonoma County Wine Auction. Nearby in Dry Creek Valley, Ferrari-Carano is in great shape, he says. The most recent acquisition, Silverado Vineyards in Napa Valley, is not showing its full potential yet, while Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma Valley and Chalone Vineyard in Monterey County, he says, are getting needed upgrades.
The Foley family has been philanthropic on many levels, including donations totaling more than $5 million in wine country communities over the past five years.
In addition to his wine estates, Foley has proven his success in professional sports, private golf clubs, residential communities, boutique hotels and a ski resort. He is able to combine all of these ventures with the Foley Food & Wine Society for his customers to have luxury experiences at the intersection between sports, wine, travel and hospitality.
After a lifetime of success, what’s next? “Now I’m mature as opposed to just starting out,” he says. “But I’m really focused on quality, improving what we have, making it better. Because I like to be proud of what I’m involved in, and I am proud of our wine business, but we’re making it better every year.”
For all his work in stewarding important wine properties, for striving to give consumers the very best wine for the price, and for having fun while doing it, Wine Enthusiast is proud to honor William Foley with the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2022 and will be honored at Wine Star Awards on Jan 30th in San Francisco.
Daou 2019 Seventeen Forty Reserve Red (Paso Robles)
Bordeaux-style Red Blend
$75
Rating: 94
Daou 2021 Chardonnay (Paso Robles)
Chardonnay
$22
Rating: 91
Daou 2021 Sauvignon Blanc (Paso Robles)
Sauvignon Blanc
$20
Rating: 91
Daou 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles)
Cabernet Sauvignon
$30
Rating: 91
Murder Ridge 2019 Perli Vineyard Chardonnay (Mendocino Ridge)
Chardonnay
$38
Rating: 95
Antigal 2019 Uno Malbec (Mendoza)
Malbec
$15
Rating: 90
Montoya 2020 Chardonnay (Monterey)
Chardonnay
$20
Rating: 91
Muirwood 2021 Sauvignon Blanc (Arroyo Seco)
Sauvignon Blanc
$16
Rating: 90
Muirwood 2020 Chardonnay (Arroyo Seco)
Chardonnay
$15
Rating: 90
Post Summit 2020 Chardonnay (Arroyo Seco)
Chardonnay
$25
Rating: 90
Séance 2020 Pinot Noir (California)
Pinot Noir
$15
Rating: 90
Copia 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles Willow Creek District)
Cabernet Sauvignon
$65
Rating: 96
Berryessa Gap 2019 Durif (Yolo County)
Petite Sirah
$37
Rating: 93
Tenuta Roveglia 2019 Vigne di Catullo Riserva (Lugana)
Italian White
$30
Rating: 92
Tenuta Roveglia 2021 Limne (Lugana)
Italian White
$20
Rating: 91
Mas Igneus 2013 Costers De Pobleda Carignan-Syrah (Priorat)
Red Blends
$175
Rating: 95
Mas Igneus 2018 Fusio Red (Priorat)
Red Blends
$125
Rating: 94
Mas Igneus 2019 M Red (Priorat)
Red Blends
$85
Rating: 93
Tinto Amorio 2021 Monje Skin-Contact Orange Gewürztraminer (Paso Robles)
Gewürztraminer
$36
Rating: 92
Tinto Amorio 2021 Jajaja Glou Glou Zinfandel (California)
Zinfandel
$45
Rating: 92
Protos 2021 Criado Sobre Lías Finas Verdejo (Rueda)
Spanish White
$14
Rating: 89
Brutocao 2019 Quadriga Hopland Ranches Estate Red (Mendocino)
Red Blends
$30
Rating: 91
Castello di Neive 2019 Albesani Santo Stefano (Barbaresco)
Nebbiolo
N/A
Rating: 97
Concha y Toro 2019 Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Ribera del Cachapoal Carmenere (Cachapoal Valley)
Carmenère
$17
Rating: 90
Elk Cove 2021 Estate Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley)

$22
Rating: 90
Parducci 2019 True Grit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino)
Cabernet Sauvignon
$30
Rating: 93
Wakefield 2018 St. Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon (Clare Valley)
Cabernet Sauvignon
$46
Rating: 93
Rabble 2019 Zinfandel (Paso Robles)
Zinfandel
$25
Rating: 90
Charles Woodson’s Intercept 2020 Chardonnay (Monterey County)
Chardonnay
$20
Rating: 90
Robert Hall 2019 Artisan Collection Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles)
Cabernet Sauvignon
$20
Rating: 90
Robert Hall 2019 Merlot (Paso Robles)
Merlot
$15
Rating: 90
Hartford Court 2019 Seascape Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast)
Pinot Noir
$85
Rating: 97
Familia Chávarri 2020 Izarbe Tempranillo (Rioja)
Tempranillo
$45
Rating: 92
Ehlers Estate 2019 Merlot (St. Helena)
Merlot
$69
Rating: 93
Ehlers Estate 2019 Cabernet Franc (St. Helena)
Cabernet Franc
$77
Rating: 92
Nals Margreid 2021 Berg Pinot Bianco (Alto Adige)
Pinot Blanc
$22
Rating: 91
Nals Margreid 2021 Hill Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige)

$22
Rating: 90
Replica 2020 Chardonnay (California)
Chardonnay
$16
Rating: 90
Château Ricaudet 2018 Médoc
Bordeaux-style Red Blend
$50
Rating: 91
Lion Ranch 2019 Grenache Blanc (Santa Clara Valley)
Other White
$28
Rating: 93
Trivento 2018 Eolo Malbec (Mendoza)
Malbec
$79
Rating: 94
Ana Beirut 2018 Grande Réserve Mount Lebanon Red (Bekaa Valley)
Red Blends
$35
Rating: 91
Collina San Ponzio 2018 Fossati (Barolo)
Nebbiolo
$85
Rating: 91
Extraction 2018 Pinot Noir (California)
Pinot Noir
$15
Rating: 91
Michele Chiarlo 2018 Tortoniano (Barolo)
Nebbiolo
$60
Rating: 94
Saints Hills 2016 Ernest Tolj Plavac Mali (Peljesac)
Other Red
$140
Rating: 97
Saints Hills 2017 St. Lucia Vineyard Plavac Mali (Dingač)
Other Red
$60
Rating: 95
Saints Hills 2020 Le Chiffre Chardonnay (Istria)
Chardonnay
$60
Rating: 94
Carodorum 2016 Selección Especial Reserva (Toro)
Tempranillo
$75
Rating: 94
Casa Primicia 2016 Viña Diezmo Reserva (Rioja)
Tempranillo
$42
Rating: 93
Altos de Torona 2021 Albariño (Rías Baixas)
Albariño
$35
Rating: 91
Pazo De Villarei 2021 Albariño (Rías Baixas)
Albariño
$30
Rating: 90
Clean Slate 2020 Riesling (Mosel)
Riesling
$10
Rating: 89
Château Magnol 2019 M de Magnol (Haut-Médoc)
Bordeaux-style Red Blend
$25
Rating: 90
Daou 2021 Rosé (Paso Robles)
Rosé
$24
Rating: 91
Tinto Amorio 2021 No Pasa Nada Rosé (Paso Robles)
Rosé
$46
Rating: 93
Château de Berne 2021 Inspiration Rosé (Côtes de Provence)
Rosé
$22
Rating: 92
Campo alle Comete 2021 Rosastella Rosato (Toscana)
Rosé
$25
Rating: 92
Summer Somewhere 2021 Rosé (Santa Barbara County)
Rosé
$34
Rating: 93
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