Team

The Hestan Vineyards team takes a thoughtful approach to both cultivation and wine making – translating Hestan’s distinct terroir into wonderfully opulent and personally expressive limited-release wines.

Winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown


Since moving to Napa Valley from Sumter, South Carolina in 1996, Brown has established himself as one of Napa’s most exciting winemakers. After three years as assistant winemaker to Ehren Jordan at Turley, Thomas went out on his own as a consulting winemaker in 2000. His first two clients, Outpost and Chiarello, are now part of an impressive portfolio that includes: Maybach, Schrader and his own label, Rivers Marie.

Brown’s “no holds barred” approach to making uncompromising wines has resulted in effusive praise from the wine press, including unprecedented double 100 point scores from the Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker. In 2009 Thomas joined the Hestan Vineyards winemaking team, taking over production of the winery's critically acclaimed Hestan Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

Winemaker Jeff Gaffner


Consulting winemaker and grape-grower Jeff Gaffner brings more than 30 years of experience to his role at Hestan Vineyards. Jeff began his career in 1981 at Chateau St. Jean under the tutelage of legendary winemaker Richard Arrowood. At Chateau St. Jean, Jeff was part of the winemaking team responsible for the winery’s celebrated 1996 Cinq Cepages, a classic blend of all five Bordeaux varietals that was named “Wine of the Year” by Wine Spectator.

Over the years, Jeff has developed a reputation as a specialist both in the vineyard and cellar, receiving critical acclaim for his site-expressive winemaking and signature elegant style. The Wall Street Journal said of the Saxon Brown Wines made from his family’s 100 year old Casa Santinamaria Vineyard, “We love his vineyard’s voice.” Wine Spectator called Jeff’s first wine for Napa Valley client Xtant (a proprietary Bordeaux blend) “outstanding” and upon its release, placed the winery on its list of “Napa’s Impressive Newcomers.” Wine Spectator also praised Jeff’s winemaking for client Black Kite Cellars as “deft” while naming that winery to their list of “2007 Hot Dozen New Pinot Producers.”

In 2004, during a tasting of Merlots, Hestan Vineyards owner Stanley Cheng was introduced to Jeff’s winemaking and hired him to produce Stephanie, the winery’s first line of “Bordeaux blend” wines.

Vineyard Manager Angel Camarena


Angel Camarena has overseen the viticulture at Hestan Vineyards since planting the first vines in 1996. Since then he has personally overseen every aspect of vineyard development and maintenance, in addition to managing the balance of the estate’s 237-acre ranch property.

Prior to taking over the management of Hestan Vineyards, Angel worked for 10 years at ATS Vineyard Services, developing and managing premium Napa Valley vineyards, including Bryant Family Vineyards, Bravante Vineyards, Lail Vineyards and Crane Family Vineyards. A native of Jalisco, Mexico, Angel began his career at Hyde Vineyards in Carneros after moving to California in 1987.

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