Ryan Moreland ’98 spent a great deal of time in his parent’s vineyard growing up in St. Helena. Among his favorite memories is sharing a glass of wine with family and friends seated around an old redwood plank table, surrounded by a canopy of trees. It was the good times he had in this spot, he said, that impacted his decision to become a winemaker.
While his family originally planted their vineyard as a hobby, Moreland turned it into a career and has made every single vintage from their vineyard since it first began producing fruit in 2007. He started Corvalle Winery the following year, when he was just 25 years old, after attending college at the University of California, San Diego, and obtaining a degree in environmental chemistry. Success followed soon after, and Corvalle today is a known competitor in the wine market.
“My parents had planted an acre of sauvignon blanc. I immediately was hooked, walking up and down the rows pruning the young vines as they stretched out onto the trellises,” recalled Moreland, who went on to work entry level positions at nearby wineries before deciding to focus solely on developing his own label.
The name Corvalle is derived from Latin, meaning “Soul of the Valley,” and is intended as a tribute to the community of Napa and its legacy of farming.
“I learned so many valuable skills that have helped me both as an entrepreneur and in my professional life. When I look back on my time at Harker, the first thing that comes to mind is my strong belief that, given adequate drive, an individual can accomplish any goal he or she dreams up. This belief is a product of the culture at Harker,” he said.
Moreland also believes in giving back. In addition to generously donating wine to Harker’s advancement events, he also is a supporter of the Danville D’Elegance foundation supporting Alzheimer’s research and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund.
Moreland has recently relocated to attend the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania while simultaneously expanding his business to the East Coast market. Having just begun pre-term events at Wharton, Moreland is enjoying getting to know his fellow classmates.
“I feel genuinely lucky to be able to participate in such an amazing program surrounded by this caliber of staff and fellow students. As one could imagine, my background is a bit unique here,” said Moreland, adding that he is also enjoying sharing his love for wine in his new community and regularly returns to Napa to oversee winemaking activities at Corvalle.
Working on developing sales in both New York and Pennsylvania has proven a much different endeavor than in California due to the states’ specific legal framework regarding wine importation and distribution, but Moreland said he likes the challenge and opportunity to engage with so many eager and curious wine consumers outside of the Bay Area.
Moreland advices other alumni not to be afraid to follow their own interests. “If something sounds enjoyable and gets you excited then take the time to learn more about your passion!” he said.