Originally from Kokomo, Indiana, Erik had always dreamed of moving west. After graduating from Purdue University in 1999, with a degree in Organizational, Leadership, and Supervision, he set his sights on Sonoma County in order to pursue his dreams. "I traded in the soybeans and cornfields for the brighter skies, rolling hills and vineyards", Erik said. "With my Midwestern values, I approached the new territory with a promise to always treat the farmers and business the same - with respect."
Erik had his first opportunity to make an impression as a wine professional while working crush at Belvedere Winery in the Russian River Valley. Starting at ground level as a cellar worker, there was an immediate connection to the industry. After working that first harvest, Erik decided to enroll at U.C. Davis to study Oenology and learn from the best in the field. During the time he was attending classes, he met Rick Hutchinson, owner and winemaker of Amphora Winery, and was offered a full-time cellar worker position.
While handling his duties in the cellar, Erik began Kokomo Winery with a 2004 single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Dry Creek Valley. In naming his new venture, the winemaker decided to pay homage to his Indiana hometown. In 2005 Erik brought on his best friend and college roommate, Josh Bartels, to assist with the new winery's second vintage. With Josh on board, the two upped production and increased the product line. After the 2006 harvest, Kokomo Winery moved into its own facility at Timber Crest Farms in Dry Creek Valley.
In 2008 Erik brought on his partner in the winery, Randy Peters, who is a fourth generation farmer in Dry Creek Valley. "Having a partner who grows in three appellations in Sonoma County really completed the loop for us and ensures consistency in quality and terrior"