Russ was born into a family of grape growers in Madera, California. As a boy, he spent many days and nights working side by side in the vineyards with his father and grandfather. This rural California experience proved to be the foundation of a career in fine wine that would take Russ to every corner of the globe.
Russ first moved to the Napa Valley in 1981 to pursue degrees in Literature and French at Pacific Union College. While an undergraduate Russ spent a year in Haut-Savoie in France. Rumors still circulate that he did more skiing than studying. Upon graduation in 1985, he taught English language and literature at a small liberal arts college in Japan.
In 1987, Russ returned to Napa and joined the Christian Brothers Winery in St. Helena, California as a tour guide, eventually working his way up to a position in Public Relations. He worked closely with Christian Brothers’ legendary winemaker, Brother Timothy. His familiarity with foreign countries and languages was well known to Christian Brothers’ ownership, International Distillers & Vintners Ltd. who made Russ their Global Brand Manager for California Wines in 1990.
In 1993, Russ joined the Robert Mondavi Winery where he led the Asia/Pacific export business. He held several posts with Mondavi, including Director of Public Relations for Opus One. In 2000, Russ was named Mondavi Winery’s Senior Vice President for International Business Development, a position he held until joining Silverado Vineyards in 2004.
When he’s not busy touting the virtues of Silverado Vineyards wines, Russ enjoys playing piano and admits to “a bad game of golf.” He’s also involved in a personal wine project with partners in Spain’s Priorat region.
He’s a member of the Board of Directors of the Stags Leap District Association, the International Programs Committee of the Napa Valley Vintners and serves on the board of the Napa Valley Symphony.
Russ lives near Yountville with his wife, Laurie, and their daughter, Josephine. The Weis family still lives on and farms the vineyards in Madera where Russ grew up.