Dan Goldfield grew up in Philadelphia, and graduated from Brandeis University with majors in chemistry and philosophy. He headed west to study physical chemistry at the University of Utah, but just as much to explore in the mountains and canyons of the region. From there he was enticed to Berkeley, California, to do research in chemical engineering (and high Sierra mountaineering). Having been turned on to the 1969 Burgundies by his brother David in the early ‘70s, his appreciation and enjoyment of great wine was already deep-rooted – for its hedonistic delight, its geographical fascination and its cultural allure. In California, Dan first saw wine being produced, and got to taste from barrel. It was the 1978 Napa Cabs in bottle, and some early ‘80s Carneros Pinots from barrel, that convinced this Burgundy (and Barolo) snob that great wine could actually be made in California.
After two years in chemical engineering labs, and another two doing medical research at UCSF Medical School, Dan realized his passion didn’t reside in research labs. The theory was engaging, but days spent in the lab were certainly not compatible with his idea of fulfillment. Winemaking, on the other hand, combines the wonderful theoretical underpinnings, great attention to detail and sensation, tremendous need for mental flexibility, and of course a deep attachment to land and the cycles of the seasons. A bit of research revealed that UC Davis was happy to fully support an accomplished lab researcher through their enology master’s program. While working on his degree, Dan worked at Mondavi Winery, a veritable winemaking education of its own, and continued there until starting at Schramsberg as the Associate Winemaker for the 1986 harvest. The precision of the winemaking and blending for bubbly was an invaluable early training, as were two vintages helping to start a winery in Portugal for the Davies family. The fewer resources one has, the more what’s most important in the process becomes clear.
In 1990, Dan was given a wonderful opportunity to make wine in Russian River Valley as the winemaker at La Crema Winery. He truly found home, in Pinot production and in western Sonoma County. Dan led La Crema through lean times in the early 1990s, until it was purchased by Jess Jackson in 1993. Through Jess’s support, Dan gained the resources to explore the reaches of Sonoma County for great vineyard potential, and to hone his winemaking chops. A few years later, Hartford Court Winery was created under his direction to focus on single-vineyard pinots.
Through the La Crema time, the Dutton family was always a favorite grower, and compadres in this beautiful neighborhood. In 1998, Dan partnered with winegrower Steve Dutton to create Dutton-Goldfield Winery, with a mission to craft wines that offer the intricacy, bright fruit, structure and balance that are reflective of our cool coastal home. The pursuit of great, expressive vineyards in the coastal hills has been his pleasure, as has been the learning of his craft from the motivated younger winemakers with whom he’s had the privilege to work.