As winemakers, we do everything start to finish. No shortcuts. No excuses. We're the ones doing the work, because we believe being hands-on is the only way to make great wine. From harvest to crush through barreling and bottling, our hands are literally red at the end of the day.
Dept. C is proud to create wines that have a unity of component structure, a complexity of flavors and aromas, and a lasting intensity. That elusive remembrance of placeâsomething unique, personal, and delicious.
Dept. C wines are currently available at fine restaurants and retailers throughout the country.
Ian was introduced to the wine business through his grandfather, a founding manager of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, and one of its long time consultants. Without knowing wine would one day be an integral part of his life, Ian had the opportunity to learn from many early California wine makers. After Graduating from Willamette University in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in History, Ian turned his eye to a career in the hotel and restaurant industry and graduated from the California Culinary Academy in 1994 with a degree in Culinary Arts.
Ian has held management positions with the Kimpton Group, Hyatt Corporation, Out of the Blue Inc, and Independent Exchange Services, Inc, as well as several standalone restaurants. His operational experience, along with a strong food and wine knowledge base, makes Ian a perfect fit at Dept C.
Stephen has enjoyed a lifelong passion for food, wine, and the arts. Growing up, he studied jazz and classical music but ultimately decided to pursue a career in cooking. From the Culinary Institute in New Yorkâs Hyde Park to stints at several Michelin starred restaurants in France, Spain and Italy, his work with the worldâs best helped enrich his knowledge of great food and wine.
As Executive Chef of Tourelle, a Northern California destination restaurant, Stephen earned "Best of the East Bay" accolades each of the 13 years he was at the helm. During his tenure, he created and managed a 3000 bottle wine list that won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for 10 consecutive years and featured extensive selections of Europeâs legendary wines. Names like Jayer, Meo, Groffier, Chevillon, Chave, Jasmin, and Rayas were major influences in his continuing wine education.
Extending his pursuit and love of Pinot Noir, Stephen began to study winemaking in 1995 with Dr. Terrance Leighton at Kalin Cellars in Sonoma. He worked the harvest in California in 1995 and 1996, and in 1997 he traveled to Burgundy to make wine in Beaune for Dr. Leighton. Stephen produced the 1997 and 1998 vintages of Kalinâs Cote du Beaune and Beaune Premier Cru wines and, in the process, became hooked on the wines of the Cote DâOr. The elegance and refinement of these wines are the inspiration for Dept. C.
Jonathan grew up surrounded by great cuisine and fine wines, starting a restaurant career at an early age. After working his way through both front and back of the house leadership roles at celebrated restaurants across the country, he co-founded The Wine Restaurant, a new American cuisine restaurant with over 500 wines.
On the corporate side, Smiga has held senior positions with such market leaders as Illy Espresso, Darden Restaurants, Williams-Sonoma, Robert Mondavi and The Culinary Institute of America. In addition, Smiga has gleaned insights from expansive work in consumer research, private equity, and entrepreneurial ventures that drive his perspective on innovation, market leadership, and enterprise growth.
Smiga has written a thesis at New College on the Aesthetics of Food and Wine. He went on to earn a masterâs degree from the prestigious Cornell Hotel School and an MBA with honors from New York Universityâs Leonard N. Stern School of Business.
As winemakers, we do everything start to finish. No shortcuts. No excuses. Weâre the ones doing the work, because we believe being hands-on is the only way to make great wine. From harvest to crush through barreling and bottling, our hands are literally red at the end of the day.
As winemaker, Stephen allows this dedication to reveal itself with delicacy and transparency. Dept C is proud to create wines that have a unity of component structure, a complexity of flavors and aromas, and a lasting intensity. That elusive remembrance of placeâsomething unique, personal, and delicious.