Growing up in the town of Napa, and as the son of Pride’s longtime Lead Mechanic/Production Assistant Ruben Ayala, it was only natural that Erik gravitate towards a career in wine. His first experience with actual wine production was in 2006, when he was just 17 years old – he helped his father and uncle with a barrel-fermented Pinot Noir home winemaking project. The wine came out great (he still has two bottles in his cellar) and Erik was hooked on the hands-on process of creating wine. After he graduated from Napa’s Vintage High in 2007, he took a job in the cellar at Far Niente Winery in Oakville, where he worked off-and-on for the next seven years before joining the team at Pride Mountain Vineyards in 2014.
Erik performs all aspects of wine production at Pride and acts as a key liaison between our winery and vineyard teams. At work he is known as “the Bug Whisperer” for his uncanny ability to spot and capture damaging insect pests in the vineyards.He is also a skilled carpenter and electrician, and manages his own landscaping business on the side, acting as caretaker for some of Napa Valley’s most beautiful private homes.
When he’s not working side-by-side with his father at Pride, he enjoys visiting Disneyland with his young son Noah, horseback riding with his grandfather, and listening to music. He keeps himself extremely busy both on and off the job but claims to also enjoy finding time to just relax!