Foley Family Wines (FFW), the Santa Rosa, California-based family-owned wine and spirits company, has announced that Chip Tate has joined the company as master distiller for innovation. FFW has continued to increase its footprint in the spirits business since the 2023 acquisition of Minden Mill Distilling, and the U.S. launch of Charles Goodnight Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey and New Zealand Lighthouse Gin. FFW made the strategic decision to add spirits to its growing luxury wine portfolio as the total spirits market continues to grow and has reached nearly 300 million cases as of January 2023.
“We are honored to have Chip join Foley Family as our spirits portfolio continues to grow and our production at our Minden Mill facility expands,” said Shawn Schiffer, FFW president. “Chip’s reputation and experience using techniques from centuries of distilling tradition and adding his own innovative ideas will help us as we launch our next generation of spirits.”
Best known as the founder of Balcones Distilling, Tate’s career in the spirits industry is a storied journey. Originally from Lynchburg, Virginia, Tate received a philosophy degree from the College of William & Mary and studied theology at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond. In 2002, he followed his wife to Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he served as an assistant dean. The same year, he earned a diploma in Brewing & Distilling from the Institute of Brewing & Distilling and considered using his long-time passion to start a brewery in Waco. Since Texas had multiple breweries but no distilleries, Tate turned to whiskey and in 2008 founded Balcones Distilling. Working out of a former welding shop near the Baylor campus, Tate designed and built his own copper pot stills and distillation equipment. He crafted a line of Texas Whiskeys including Texas Single Malt Whiskeys, Texas Rye, and Baby Blue, a corn whiskey which won a double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
“I am very excited to be joining the Foley Family team. As Master Distiller for Innovation, I look forward to expanding Foley’s growing portfolio of spirits, as well as collaborating with the other Foley Family master distillers, Joe O’Sullivan in Minden and Rachel Hall in New Zealand, to create a collection of spirits that set the bar for quality and craftsmanship.”