Ryan Pace next to Uriel J. Nielson Sign

Ryan Pace, Winemaker & Chief Adventurer

“My approach is to create expressive wines that highlight the purity and diversity of Santa Barbara’s cool-climate, coastal AVAs.”    - Ryan Pace

Ryan Pace's first harvest in Santa Barbara.

Ryan Discovers Santa Barbara Wine Country

Nielson Winemaker Ryan Pace spent his childhood in Napa Valley, where his dad was COO of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. A family move to the Santa Ynez Valley set the stage for Ryan’s own entry into winemaking. At age 19, Ryan worked his first harvest in the cellar at Terravant Wine Company

World Class Wine Made the World Over

Ryan found his calling in the wine cellar, but also the thrills from rock climbing, surfing and traveling. He realized he could indulge all his passions by working harvest seasons around the world, taking time to play between “gigs”. His work spanned “New World” regions like Marlborough, New Zealand, and Margaret River, Australia and Old World regions like the Northern Rhone in France. He’s worked across the globe at wineries including Opus One in Napa Valley; Muratie in Stellenbosch, South Africa; Alcance in Chile; and Francois Willard in the Northern Rhone, France. By the time he was 25, Ryan had traveled to 35 countries and worked at nine wineries on four continents in both hemispheres amassing a phenomenal breadth of experience. 

Ryan Comes Home to Santa Barbara to Join Byron Winery

In June 2014, after finishing his BS in enology from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Ryan joined Byron Winery in the Santa Maria Valley. He was drawn to Byron’s history, reputation and Pinot Noir focus. For a Santa Ynez Valley native with a passion for Central Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it was the perfect fit. 

Ryan Pace looks over vineyard near the original sign
Ryan Pace was promoted to head Winemaker at Nielson in 2017.

Ryan Becomes Nielson Winemaker

In 2017, Ryan was appointed Nielson Winemaker, working closely with Head Winemaker Jonathan Nagy  who has mentored him over the past several years to craft the winery’s Santa Barbara Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

When not at the winery, the self-described “obsessed” rock climber can be found preparing for his next mountain adventure.