Proprietor and Winemaker
Sam Baxter stands tall among an esteemed few, of the next generation of Napa Valley winemakers. Baxter literally grew up in the grapevines, trailing father Phil, whose winemaking made a legendary mark in the late '60s when the Napa Valley first experienced international notoriety as a respected winegrowing region.
After graduating from University of California, Davis with a degree in fermentation science in 1998, Sam extended his experience with a pivotal internship position at Sterling Vineyards and stints abroad in Australia. His first encounters with Terra Valentine were cultivated during the early years at the winery, dubbed the "cowboy" era (1999-2001) due to the rough-and-tumble condition of the winery and its vineyard land, which allowed for barely enough energy to run the lights, but no hot water. Working under these off-the-grid conditions went a long way in building Baxter's strong winemaking foundation–one that
thrived in the extreme conditions of the past, and now flourishes in the most technologically advanced state of the winery of today. When the page of Terra Valentine's next chapter turned, Sam was well-poised to take over his father's legacy, as winemaker and General Manager in 2002. His first vintage released in that same year.
Sam's winemaking approach is best described as Old World meets New–a subtle blend of "go-with-the-gut" instincts paired with equal parts science and art.
Having spent the better part of his youth amid the grape vines of Terra Valentine, Sam beats to a simple mantra for the estate's next chapter: "To capture the vineyard, the appellation and the passion of the people involved. When guests taste the wine and learn a bit about it, I want all of that to shine through. I want people to fall in love with Spring Mountain and with our Terra Valentine wines."
The Baxter kids:
Tommy, Alice and Hudson
Angela comes to Terra Valentine with roots grounded in wine and food. Her great grandfather settled in Santa Ynez Valley in the late 1800s, where he planted a vineyard in Los Olivos in 1915, and made wine he shared with family and friends.
Angela, a Marin County native, attended UC Davis in 1997 where she met Sam, six months prior to graduation. With a degree in dietetics she interned in Napa and became a Registered Dietitian in 2001. She practiced as a Clinical Dietitian and Assistant Director for a local hospital for 5 years before her first son, Tommy, was born.
She married Sam in 2003 and they now have 3 children, Tommy, Alice, and Hudson. Her love of wine, food, and family made her a natural fit for Terra Valentine. For the last 15 years,
Angela has been involved with tasting Terra Valentine wines with husband Sam prior to bottling. It was here she developed a strong palate and sense for the characteristics of the wines and how they are produced. She is excited to continue to enrich her knowledge of the wine business alongside Sam and Tracy.
As part of a fourth generation Napa Valley family, a career in the wine business was imminent for Tracy, whose great grandparents immigrated to St. Helena in the early 1900s. The family became a vital part of the burgeoning wine industry and community. Tracy’s grandfather went on to start one of the first construction companies in the area, building roads and clearing vineyard properties for many of the town’s first wineries.
Small town life and friendships played a fortuitous role in Tracy’s future. Her father Larry worked with Sam Baxter’s dad, Phil, at Rutherford Hill winery in the late 70s, right as the Napa Valley wine industry was starting to take off.
Decades later, it was no surprise when Sam turned to Tracy to help with the development and growth of Terra Valentine’s wine club and social media programs. With past posts at local spots like Acme Fine Wines, Hourglass, and The Ranch, and her family’s fruitful past,
the wine biz was in her blood. In 2013, Tracy was promoted to General Manager of Terra Valentine, where she is thrilled to be a part of the winery’s next chapter, which includes Sam and Angela Baxter at the helm, and the opening of a new tasting room off a quiet country lane in St. Helena. Whenever Tracy is not working she can be found roaming the valley with her lab mixes Lucy and Lily.
Angus and Margaret Wurtele
Terra Valentine was founded in 1996 by Angus and Margaret Wurtele when they purchased a newly producing vineyard on Spring Mountain and named it the Wurtele Vineyard. In 1999, they hired Sam Baxter and his father Phil, and began making wines at the historic Yverdon Winery on Spring Mountain. The doors of the winery opened to the public in 2002. In 2014, after 15 years of successfully developing a world-class wine business, Sam and Angela Baxter purchased the company from the Wurteles to continue the legacy of Terra Valentine wines. The Wurteles continue to farm the Wurtele Vineyard located at 1,000 feet on Spring Mountain and the Yverdon Winery was sold to Jackson Family Wines in 2013.