A seasoned winemaker for vineyards in Canada and Virginia, Rob Warren, leads the sourcing, production and menu pairings for nearly 50 wines at Illinois-based Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants. From the winery’s central production facility in Countryside, which serves all restaurant locations, Warren sources the highest-quality grapes he can find from the best vineyards around the country, including California, Oregon, Washington and Michigan, for creating both traditional varietals and unique blends.
Warren also selects the rotating sampling wines for the winery’s tasting rooms, located adjacent to the restaurant at each location, and helped develop the suggested wine pairings for each of the roughly 20 specialty dishes, appetizers and desserts on the menu at Cooper’s Hawk. In addition, Warren runs the restaurant’s successful Wine of the Month Club, one of the largest in the country, which offers discounts and special event invitations to its members.
“I really enjoy the fast-paced nature of working at Cooper’s Hawk,” Warren says. “From a winemaking standpoint, I don’t know of any other winery in the country that works with this many different grapes, so working for Cooper’s Hawk truly has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.”
Warren’s passion for winemaking, and in particular vineyard management, blossomed while attending Brock University in the heart of the Niagara wine country in Ontario, Canada. Born and raised on a dairy farm in Ontario, Warren has always had an appreciation for the outdoors and nature, which led to earning an undergraduate degree in Earth Sciences. Following graduation, Warren continued his studies at Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) at Brock University, earning a certificate in Oenology and Viticulture.
During his studies, Warren learned the craft of winemaking and vineyard management at Malivoire Wine Company, one of Canada’s premier wineries specializing in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Upon completion of his viticulture studies in 2001 he went on to become winemaker and vineyard manager at Kacaba Vineyards, another premier winery in the Niagara region. There he garnered critical acclaim for his Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon wines.
Seeking a change of scenery in 2004, Warren left Kacaba for Tarara Winery, one of Virginia’s oldest and largest wineries. While at Tarara, he worked with 12 different grape varieties and wine varietals, including Syrah, Burgundy, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. In 2007, he accepted the position of winemaker for Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, and currently resides with his wife in Channahon, Ill., about 10 miles outside of Joliet.