I launched into my winemaking career in 2009, right here in the Finger Lakes, working at Lucas Vineyards for a few years. I left to travel and chase harvests, working in Sonoma, New Zealand, Virginia, Napa, and Australia before settling down again in California. I caught the travel bug again in 2019 and left for Italy to pursue a Master’s degree in viticulture and enology. Once completed, I had the opportunity to decide where in the country I wanted to make wine and I knew the Finger Lakes was where I wanted to be.
Why did you choose to make wine here?
I had never stopped thinking about the Finger Lakes (and talking it up to anyone who would listen) after my first experience in the region. The wines from this area are exciting, vibrant, and diverse. I think the area has a bright future and I want to be part of its growth and evolution. There is an excitement and curiosity in the industry here that I missed when working in other parts of the world and I am thrilled to be back.
How would you describe your winemaking style?
I consider myself a crafts-person and any wine to be the sum of innumerable decisions, large and small. When I start with good materials the work is easier, I can step back and let the wine shine. As a winemaker, however, I need to know and understand the toolkit that I have at my disposal because not all vintages are going to be ideal or equivalent. I try to look at every wine individually and create a roadmap for it, knowing that sometimes patience pays off and sometimes a timely intervention can lead to a better final product.
What wine do you love to drink… and your favorite to make?
I love both drinking and making Syrah, especially cool climate Syrah. The wine can be such a chameleon, showcasing the vintage and place so clearly that I am always excited to taste and work with it.
The harvest beard. Never miss a vintage.
What advice do you have for aspiring winemakers?
Broaden your experience as much as you can while still early in your career. Travel, work for large places to learn about efficiencies and GMP’s, work for small places to learn about passion and ingenuity. Do all the jobs, embrace the grunt work, learn how to clean obsessively and develop a healthy winemakers’ paranoia. Think of it like practicing your scales on an instrument before you can improvise, having a good foundation in the basics is essential.
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.