St. John’s alumni Warren and Barbara Winiarski are in many ways archetypal Johnnies.

Barbara matriculated with the first group of women at the college. She chose St. John’s despite her parents’ desire that she be formally trained as a painter, because, in her words, “she wanted to learn about everything.”

After St. John’s, they both began careers in academia, with Warren joining the faculty of the University of Chicago. But after contributing a chapter in the History of Political Philosophy, his thoughts turned toward becoming a grape grower and winemaker. Warren embraces his passion for winemaking with the same vigor that he pursued a life of the mind. He once remarked, “My St. John’s education enabled me to acquire the proficiency and skills I needed in a scientific field. I was also an apprentice who asked very good questions.”

Warren’s constant inquiry led to a level of expertise and career success that included his 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon winning the now legendary wine tasting competition referred to as the Judgment of Paris, the first time a California wine beat a French wine in a blind tasting competition. A bottle of the award-winning wine is part of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s permanent collection. The bottle is also included in The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects, by Richard Kurin, who was then the Smithsonian Institution’s Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture. Warren was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2017.

Barbara worked alongside Warren to build the wine business and raise their family. In 1980, Barbara reconnected with her artistic passion and picked up her paintbrushes again. In 2018, her life’s work was published in the book Passages. Barbara’s paintings have been described as “having compelling intimacy. They capture moments in people’s daily lives while drawing the viewer into a space of contemplation.”

Warren’s dedication to St. John’s and the Program is so passionate that each summer he travels to Santa Fe to co-tutor seminars during Summer Classics. In July 2018, at the age of 89, he was a co-tutor with Judith Adam for the weeklong seminar on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.

The couple credits St. John’s as playing a critical part in their personal and professional success, and they are deeply committed to helping provide that opportunity to future generations of Johnnies.

Warren and Barbara hope the Winiarski Family Foundation challenge grant that matches, dollar for dollar, every gift to any fund with a gift to the endowment—up to $50 million dollars—will be met by those who are equally passionate about the future of St. John’s College.