Phillip Staehle: From Ancient Mesopotamia to the Vineyards of Sonoma
At the heart of Enkidu is the passion and expertise of our founder and winemaker, Phillip Staehle. His journey into the world of winemaking is a tapestry woven from years of passion, dedication, and artistry.
Phil had an early start with wine, sneaking sips at the dinner table as a kid. By 18, he had started his own wine collection, and by college he was educating his roommates on Inglenook and Robert Mondavi, analyzing and cataloging each wine’s distinctive nuances.
Working alongside talented winemakers, he spent countless hours in vineyards and cellars, honing his skills, understanding the intricate dance between soil and vine, season and climate. For Phil, these experiences were more than just mastering the technicalities, they lit a fire to capture the essence of wine: its ability to tell stories, evoke emotions, and create lasting memories.
“We try to be hands off as much as possible. The grapes—and the location of the grapes—have to have room to speak in the wine.”
In 2004 Phil started Enkidu, pulling the name from the Epic of Gilgamesh. Phil continued to refine his winemaking skills, producing consistently delicious wines that speak to the unique character of their origin.
Phil’s integrity as a winemaker, and his commitment to sustainably sourcing and producing wine has grown over time. Eschewing additives, using native yeast, and maintaining long-standing relationships with sustainable vineyards allows the wine to express its true self, and Phil’s gentle hand in the cellar ensures that each wine not only meets but exceeds the expectations set by its predecessors.
In 2023 Phil agreed to sell an ownership stake in Enkidu to new owners the Francis family, while staying on as winemaker. He remains intimately involved with every grape that arrives and every bottle that leaves our winery.
The Francis Family
Enkidu’s owners, Matthew and Catherine Francis, bring decades of business acumen and a passion for wine to Enkidu, helping ensure its stability and growth for years to come. Matt and Catherine’s love of wine and desire to positively affect a small business led them to Enkidu, where the consistency and balance of Phil’s wines were revelatory. After bonding over their black labrador retrievers, they formed a partnership to grow Enkidu into the kind of winery that’s all-too-rare in California: sustainably sourced, delicately balanced, and consistently delicious.
“It seems like over the years, wine has become more and more exclusive and snobby. We just want to give people a moment of happiness.” —Catherine Francis
Our philosophy and winemaking ethos is all about finding new expressions of an ancient harmony.
Our Vineyard Partners
We’re proud of our long standing partnerships with California vineyards.
Did You Know:
We use wild native yeast to start the fermentation process in our red wines.