Meet the Winery Team
Today, success in the winery industry comes from a blending of artistry, science and solid business skills. All three disciplines must work together in an uncompromised manner to create memorable wines that can make it from the lush vineyards of the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Paso Robles and Temecula to tables halfway around the world. From its very first bottle of robust Cabernet Sauvignon, Argonza Cellars has worked to assemble and nurture a team that understands how to bring a great wine to the table. While mostly a family owned and operated winery, many industry experts have joined Emerald and his wife in the pursuit of that perfect glass.
When it comes to wine making, the one thing you’ll discover about Steve Lemley is that he is anything but a by-the-numbers winemaker. While he was trained at the University of California at Davis, one of the top wine making schools in the world, Steve uses his schooling as a reminder of how “the rules” work and then goes about breaking them to create custom wines without compromise. His mantra continues to be, “A wine’s character is decided on the vine and its quality is determined by the winemaker.” And to this end he is passionately involved in working with all the thousands of tiny things that allow you to make a great wine.
In 2006, Steve co-founded Pulchella Winery together with Nate Hasper in Paso Robles, and has been producing approximately 1000 cases per year of Grenache, Syrah, Tannat, Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Reserve Blends.
Steve is one of two winemakers at Argonza Cellars. He works alongside Emerald Argonza to personally select the best vineyards in some of the state’s top AVA’s, then guides the harvesting and whole berry fermenting of each of the varietals. Steve and Emerald also develop strategies for oak treatment of the wines, keeping the percentages low to allow for the fruit’s nuances to shine through. While many winemakers evoke passion in the work they do, Steve harnesses that to push established trends to create wines for Argonza Cellars that are uncompromising.
Behind every great winemaker is a driving force to create a memorable and noteworthy wine. While most people refer to this intense dedication as “passion,” for Emerald Argonza it is truly his unique spirit of adventure that has proven to be the underlying catalyst for jumping headfirst into a venture that is a unique blend of art and science.
While his roots are humble, Emerald’s desire to succeed and learn all the minute details of a business began early when he immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in 1986. His path took him from a highly visible sales position at one of California’s respected beverage company’s to owning and operating an independent distributorship of bottled water. After entrepreneurship got into his blood, he opened home care agencies. He also operated a sports fishing vessel out of Ensenada, Mexico as a part time hobby/business.
Yet it wasn’t until Emerald turned to home wine making in 2010 that he really found his true love — practicing the art and science of oneology and viticulture. Now over 600 test vines were planted behind his home located in the Cucamonga AVA, and he has launched Argonza Cellars alongside his wife Rowena and with the assistance of winemaker and friends Steve Lemley and Nate Haster.
Today Argonza Cellars is not a backyard passion but a serious business venture for Emerald who, with Steve Lemley, have created some amazing wines made from hand-selected grapes from some of California’s premier appellations.
Emerald now taps into his sales background and experience operating highly complex healthcare businesses to bring the wines of Argonza Cellars to Asian countries and DTC (Direct to Consumer) sales in the United States.
Chief Financial Officer
Although Healthcare and Beverage Sales has historically been a family business. Argonza Cellars follows this same tradition, yet with a unique twist, thanks to Rowena Argonza. While she shares Emerald’s love for producing small lots of premium wines, she is focused on leveraging the financial success of their current business ventures into the day-to-day operations of Argonza Cellars.
While her husband, works on wine making and operations management, Rowena focuses on the company’s financial success. She borrows from over 24 years of experience in the field of medical billing, both for, her own enterprise, and as CFO for a Healthcare Agency.
This blend of uncompromising wine-making and financial prudence will enable Argonza Cellars to not only grow their operations correctly, but run their tasting center that is currently in the planning stages.
Consumer Marketing Consultant & President, VingDirect
Connecting connoisseurs with our handcrafted selection of wines is one of the ongoing keys to the success of Argonza Cellars. This means creating a strong brand presence in the marketplace and developing innovative programs that capture the attention of an extreme niche audience.
Tammy Boatright plays a critical role on our team, serving as a marketing consultant for the launch of our brand, planning of our upcoming tasting room, and creation of consumer membership programs.
Tammy has over 20 years of experience in direct to consumer marketing for wide range of vineyards and wineries, including serving as the head of Foster’s Wine Estates U.S. Direct to Consumer division.
In 2009, Tammy founded VingDirect, and is currently consulting with companies to more effectively market their wines. She is an instructor at WISE Academy and a frequent speaker at industry conferences.