Patrick first tasted wine as a boy in Michigan, but it wasn’t until years later, in the two decades he lived in Europe, that his true passion was ignited. It all began at a London wine bar, where he quickly came to know why Port, Bordeaux and Champagne were the most beloved wine styles in England. Branching out, he familiarized himself with wines of the continent’s most renowned regions: Alsace, Burgundy, Mosel, Piedmont, Rioja, the Loire Valley and beyond. Eventually he made pilgrimages to many of these wine-growing regions, extracting knowledge, feeding his ceaseless curiosity. Dining extensively in London, Paris, Rome and Chicago taught him exactly how fine wine and world-class cuisine worked together. When he returned the United States for good, he moved to California, enrolling in the Enology and Viticulture programs at Napa Valley College. With close to a decade of winemaking experience behind him, he crafted his first Forthright vintages in 2018.
Rafer Caudill’s wine roots reach back to his family farm in upstate New York. Soon after the Caudills moved there, from a farm in Missouri, 14-year-old Rafer noticed a grape vine reaching up and forming a canopy of fruit atop a patch of birch trees. He could not help but take a closer look. Being mechanically minded, he built a simple wooden wine press, and when the time was right, he climbed up to the vines, harvested the grapes and made his first wine. As an adult, he followed his inclination for all things mechanical and landed at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he became one of the last students in the Mies van der Rohe program. A successful architecture career ensued, but Rafer never lost his love for wine, or his interest in winemaking. When Rafer’s long-time friend Patrick McEvoy invited him to put all his energy into winemaking, Rafer left his architecture career, moved to Napa, studied enology at Napa Valley College and became co-winemaker at Forthright.