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Avaler is the collaboration between two friends; Dylan Sheldon and Jon Phillips. They believe delicious wines should be on your dinner table every night. 

Dylan once walked off a cliff in Burnt Ranch Ca, he was 4 years old and convinced he could defy gravity. He was found unconscious at the bottom of the gorge wearing only one boot; they never found his other boot. Three decades later and Dylan is still convinced that he can defy gravity. Mountain biking, Snowboarding, Rock climbing, he’ll look at something and think to himself… “Oh yeah, I can totally pull this off.” This is the heart and mind of an artist, entrepreneur, and adventurer. 

“My fascination with wine began at a very early age. While other seven and eight-year-olds were running lemonade stands, I was crushing grapes, pressing them through a colander and selling, “Burgundy” and “Chablis” for 25 cents a glass. By the age of 18, I had taken over my first wine program at a small restaurant in Carmel, CA. A few years later I was running wine programs for multiple restaurants, and traveling overseas to buy wines for direct import. This morphed into following my true passion of getting into production and working as cellar crew during harvest. After a work/study wine-making trip in the Rhone Valley of France, I returned and planted my first vineyard in 1997, and made my first garagiste wine in 2000. Tobe and I launched our winery in its current form in 2003, in Monterey County, with a production of sixteen barrels. We moved to Sonoma County in 2005, making roughly 1,000 cases. The 2016 vintage was my 19th in production, with experience working in Southern France, Western Australia, Hawkes Bay New Zealand and California.”

In 2010, Dylan met Jon at Inspiration Vineyards & Winery. 

Jon’s earliest memories of food started at the age of 5 when he would wake up in the morning, rush to the kitchen and make scrambled eggs. Always interested in food, flavors, and aromas, Jon would smell and taste everything. It would drive his family crazy (or gross them out) because part of memorizing flavors and aromas is to use words to describe them. “I remember smelling some pretty disgusting things and describing them, and my family would always cry ‘ew’” Jon remembers, “I did that more for effect because I do enjoy smelling and describing pleasant, natural fragrances more than unpleasant ones. It is such an important part of developing a good palate, which I believe to be an essential part of being a good winemaker.”


“After discovering wine in college, I took a part-time job working for the Mirassou Family Winery in San Jose. I was hired to host winemaker dinners and to teach people about wine. How fun is that? I also discovered that nobody left a winery in a bad mood, folks were always happy and relaxed and I thought, ‘I would love to do this full-time someday.’ I went on to pursue a career in tech, but I couldn’t let go of my connection to wine and continued to teach independently about wine on the San Francisco peninsula. In 2001, I convinced my wife Barbara to sell our house on the Peninsula and buy a 6-acre Chardonnay and 100-year-old Zinfandel vineyard on Olivet Road in Santa Rosa. I established Inspiration Vineyards and Winery in 2002 and was able to leave the tech industry in 2008 and give full focus to the winery. In 2010, I moved the winery from our home to its current location on Coffey Lane. Today, I make about nine different wines with a total production just under 1000 cases.”

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