It would be hard not to like Napa-based winemaker Faith Armstrong-Foster. She’s fun, intelligent, charming — and her wines are no different. Having combined a formal wine degree in Viticulture and Enology from the University of California at Davis with experience working at various well-regarded North Coast wineries, Faith now channels her fresh outlook and curious spirit into her own project, Onward Wines. From the Hawkeye Vineyard of Redwood Valley she produces both an elegant, traditional rosé and a pitch-perfect, ruby-fruited Pinot Noir. Meanwhile, her Petillant Naturel of Malvasia from the unlikely Suisun Valley delivers an exciting whip crack of minerality, melon rind, and soft bubbles. The Onward Wines demonstrate Faith’s prowess in the field and the winery, alternately showcasing her keen sensitivity to typicity and terroir and her occasional desire to push boundaries.
Additional info: Faith stepped foot in the wine industry first at Ironstone Vineyards as a tasting room manager. She worked in the PR side of the wine industry for several years in San Francisco before shipping off to U C Davis to pursue a Degree in Viticulture and Enology. She graduated with Highest Honors in 2006. From here she worked in the lab and then Enologist and finally as Assistant Winemaker at Frank Family Vineyards in Napa. Here she worked with many grapes, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Sparkling Wine, and Pinot Noir.
In 2009, she began her own company, Onward Wines. As a child, Faith lived on a little island in rural British Columbia (seriously off the grid — no electricity, running water…). Onward was the name of the boat her father built and used to row her and her siblings to a nearby island to attend school every week. in 2010, Faith embarked on a collabo project called Farmers Jane Wine Company with Angela Osborne.
She lives in Napa with her husband (Sean Foster, Senior Winemaker at Merryvale Vineyards), four sons, and many pets and farm animals. She focuses primarily on Pinot Noir (her favorite variety). In recent years, she has branched out to more unusual grapes like Malvasia and, soon, Carignane. Of her winemaking philosophy, Faith writes, ‘As a winemaker, it is my goal that my wine speak of place of origin, a symbolism demonstrated by naming the brand after the Onward…the boat represents a little of my past and a lot of my heart. My upbringing is a key to who I am and continues to influence my style as a winemaker.’