Dr. Ernest Bates, founder of Black Coyote Wines, the successful, cult Napa Valley winery, has announced that Vanessa Robledo is now majority owner and CEO. Robledo had been named President of Black Coyote Wines in 2008. Under her tenure, Black Coyote has increased its market presence and more than doubled its production and sales of premium NapaValley wine. As majority owner Robledo will continue to serve as company CEO and will also serve as President of the Ernest Bates Foundation charity.
Robledo brought immediate success to Black Coyote Wines from her very start as President. Although the past few years have been difficult ones for many premium California wineries, Robledo has increased Black Coyote Wines wine sales to their highest point since the company’s inception in 1998. She took over the reins at Black Coyote with a definite plan in mind. She felt she needed to develop a strong direct to consumer sales program. In the three years she has helmed the operation, she has increased Black Coyote’s wine club membership 100 fold.
Robledo has a unique background and rich history in Napa and Sonoma Wine Country. Starting with a great grandfather and grandfather who were part of the Bracero program, Robledo is a fourth generation vineyard worker. The Robledos earned renown as the finest grapevine grafters in Wine Country. Vanessa has worked in vineyards alongside her father and siblings since she was eight years old. Over time she served as President of Robledo Family Winery where she grew the tiny 100 case producer in 1997 to a thriving business doing 20,000 cases a year in 2007. She developed a legendary series of events that paired Robledo Family wines with traditional Mexican food and she opened the very first Mexican American owned tasting room in California; all of which earned her honors as 2008 Hispanic Entrepreneur of the Year. Now, the 34 year old Hispanic woman is majority owner of a prestigious NapaValley winery.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of success in this business,” said Robledo, “but now working with Dr. Bates and the Foundation, I’ll be able to give back to this industry and that is very exciting.” The Ernest Bates Foundation focuses on providing educational opportunities for less privileged African-American and Hispanic children. They have already helped with funding for the RoselandCharterSchool in Santa Rosa. The school targets students likely to drop out of school and stimulates them with an education rich environment that focuses on advancing to a college education. The success rate is amazing with more than 90 percent of the graduates going on to attend college.
The Foundation is getting ready to fund a second project known as the El Verano Pre-School. This school focuses on 24 students all below poverty level, mostly children of vineyard and winery workers. They tend to be non-English speakers. The intent is to teach them fluency in English before they attend Kindergarten, thereby giving them a good chance for success in public schools.
“When my brother and I went to school, we were the only two Hispanics in our class. English was all around us,” said an impassioned Robledo. “That’s not the case anymore. Most of these kids speak Spanish. Their friends and neighbors all speak Spanish, and the opportunities to learn English aren’t as great. These kids are going to grow up fast. They’ll have to translate for their parents, and work to help support their families. The only real chance they will have is if they get a good education. It is our hope that the Foundation will help them get one.”
Black Coyote wines are harvested from some of NapaValley’s premium vineyards. Julian Gonzalez, who gained renown with Paul Hobbs, works as winemaker. The wines regularly garner great reviews and high scores. The owners list for Black Coyote includes and is headed by Dr. Ernest Bates MD, founder of American Shared Hospital Services and a prime moving force behind the proliferation of Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Other partners include Stanley S. Trotman and John F. Ruffle.
Dr. Bates enthused, “Vanessa is one of those extraordinary persons that you rarely encounter whose powerful commitment to her job, family and community makes her a role model for all. My two partners, John Ruffle, a world renowned retired J.P. Morgan Banker and Stan Trotman, a well-known healthcare investment banker, share my confidence that with Vanessa Robledo at the helm, Black Coyote Wines will continue to receive critical acclaim and be an even greater success.”
For more information on Black Coyote Wines or the Ernest Bates Foundation please visit the website at www.blackcoyotewines.com