Joan Ransome was born in 1938 in San Diego, California. After college, while on a visit to Catalina Island with a close family friend, Joan was introduced to Koerner Rombauer, and as they say "the rest is history." In 1959, Joan and Koerner had the first of their two children, a daughter, Sheana and later, a son KR III. In 1965, the Rombauer family moved from Southern California to Dallas, Texas, where Koerner had accepted a pilot’s position with Braniff International. In 1972, the Rombauers moved to St. Helena, California, a place they felt would be a safe, healthy environment in which to raise their children, after Koerner was transferred to Braniff's San Francisco hub.
In 1976, Joan and Koerner became partners at Conn Creek Winery. In 1980, the Rombauers began producing their own wine at a neighbor's winery, and began construction of their own winery at their St Helena homestead. For twelve years, Joan worked as the National Sales Director with Warren Winiarski at the prestigious Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, and then in 1993, for Rombauer Vineyards.
Joan was the proud grandparent of five grandchildren and spent a significant amount of her free time involved in family activities and was also an avid gardener. In 1999, Joan was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. After her diagnosis, Joan continued to work tirelessly for the winery. After her passing in December of 2002, a fund was established with the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center in her name to assist with cancer research. Additionally, the winery annually hosts the 'Joy of Wine Fundraiser' in memory of Joan and to raise funds for UCSF, as well as network and console other pancreatic cancer patients.