Craig began his career in winemaking in 2004 through a chance opportunity to work at a New Jersey winery near where he grew up. After apprenticing for only a year, Craig was named head winemaker where he concentrated on the production of French-American hybrids and American hybrids. Since 2008, Craig has practiced honing his craft in New York state serving as the head winemaker at several wineries in the north country.
In 2010 Craig served as Vice President of the Northern New York Grape Growers Association. In 2013 he helped establish a teaching winemaking facility at Tug Hill Vineyards in conjunction with Jefferson County Community College. In 2017 Craig joined the team at Hunt Country Vineyard as the head winemaker where he can focus on estate-grown vinifera as well as a diverse range of regional grape varieties. His dedication to excellence is paying off: in 2020 Hunt Country wines received multiple 90+ scores from major wine publications and praise from industry critics.
We hope you enjoy learning about Craig and his winemaking style from this interview!
Why did you choose to make wine here?
I chose to make wine here because of the wonderful community and wealth of knowledge in our local industry.
How would you describe your winemaking style?
My wine making style can be summed up with one word, “flexible”. I make adjustments when needed and step away when not.
What wine do you love to drink… and your favorite to make?
I love a good dry Rosé and it’s probably my favorite to make as well because it’s sincere and far less forgiving than other wine styles.
I am not at all superstitious, but I am a planner, so my harvest habit would be that I’m well prepared. The equipment is clean, maintained and all fermentation supplies are here before the first grapes arrive.
What advice do you have for aspiring winemakers?
Learn, ask lots of questions and show humility. It’s great to have ideals but don’t let your ideals become dogma. Stay flexible and open to different styles. Make every effort to not develop a cellar or regional pallet. Please never use the word “recipe”, there are no recipes in winemaking!
Hunt Country Vineyards, 4021 Italy Hill Road, Branchport, 800.946.3289, huntwines.com
The Edible Finger Lakes Meet Your (Wine) Maker column is developed in partnership with the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance whose mission is to increase the visibility and reputation of the Finger Lakes AVA, its wines, and wineries.