Born and raised in Kansas City, MO, John developed a passion for hospitality at a young age while working in restaurants throughout high school and college. While pursuing a graduate degree in urban planning at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, John visited California’s wine country, where he realized he wanted to pursue a career in the field. He relocated to Napa to pursue this passion, working first at the Restaurant at Domaine Chandon followed by three years at Martini House as Sommelier. John then relocated to San Francisco to become the Sommelier at the acclaimed Campton Place, alongside Chef Daniel Humm. While at Campton Place, the San Francisco Chronicle awarded the restaurant four stars, noting “Sommelier John Ragan is as brilliant in his beverage pairings as Humm is in creating the food.”
After spending three years at Campton Place, John moved to New York City in 2006 to continue his work with Chef Humm as Wine Director of Eleven Madison Park. During the five years that John spent at Eleven Madison Park, the restaurant earned four stars from The New York Times, was awarded three Michelin stars, and was designated Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux. John and Eleven Madison Park also won a James Beard Foundation Award for “Outstanding Wine Service,” and were awarded a Grand Award from Wine Spectator. In 2012, John became a member of the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers, an enormous honor held by very few individuals worldwide.
In his new role as the first ever Wine Director of Union Square Hospitality Group, John works with each restaurant to ensure exceptional and distinctive wine programs. In 2013, John spearheaded DeVine Intervention, a wine auction to raise money for victims of Hurricane Sandy. John also directs the various wine and beverage educational programs that are available to USHG employees.