Proprietor | Brad Bowlus



Brad Bowlus grew up hearing stories about his grandfather, William Hawley Bowlus, one of the world’s most respected early aviation engineers. Soaring Hall of Famer Hawley Bowlus, as he’s known among glider geeks, was the superintendent of construction on Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. As a pioneering sailplane designer (who has three planes in the Smithsonian), Hawley taught Lindbergh and his wife how to glide, and was the first American to break Orville Wright’s soaring duration record in an American-built sailplane. “My grandfather and father were both engineers, builders, doers, innovators and farmers,” says Brad. “Their example has always given me the courage to do new things and to be bold—ideals that I’ve strived to pass on to my children.”

This approach was evident throughout a noteworthy career that culminated in Brad’s 14-year tenure as the CEO of PacifiCare Health Plans, where he helped to reinvent the healthcare system in California, making it more responsible and accountable. “My approach has always been straightforward—I believe in working harder than everybody else, and taking complete responsibility for every decision and result.”

Brad is also a lifelong wine lover, with a special affinity for the great wines of Burgundy—a passion he has long shared with his winemaker son, Garrett. “During my last few years at PacifiCare, Garrett began actively pursuing his love of winemaking, studying abroad in Burgundy, and interning in Oregon at Northwest Wine Company and Bergström. It was a path that fascinated both of us, and the more we talked about it, the more we recognized an opportunity to do something exciting and meaningful together as a family.”

Brad and Garrett began searching the entire West Coast looking for unplanted land capable of supporting a grand cru-quality site. “We knew that we wanted to focus exclusively on small-production, estate-grown Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. We also knew that we wanted to find the perfect site and begin from the ground up, so that we could control every aspect of the viticulture.” In July of 2007, the Bowlus family found what they were looking for high on the Carmel Coast, and began planting Albatross Ridge early the following year. After the vineyard was planted, Brad and Garrett stumbled across something remarkable as they were looking through a local history book searching for a vineyard name. “On the very last page, I learned that my grandfather used the site of our vineyard to test his sailplanes in the 1930s.”

In the years since, Brad has used his business and managerial acumen to help guide Albatross Ridge as a family-run winery. “Garrett is our winegrower and winemaker. Garrett’s wife, Cassia, manages our tasting room. My daughter, Brittney, is our director of operations, and her husband, Brian, oversees our information technology. Though we are a family business, family members earn the right to participate. All of us have an absolute dedication to growing and making the most exceptional wines possible, and to providing the highest levels of customer service. My role is to support these efforts in every way that I can, and to provide the vision and strategy to establish Albatross Ridge as one of the most exciting new wineries in California.”