I apologize for this delayed post. At my urging, Sierra wrote the following on Wednesday, Sept 12th:
A few months ago I was in Australia fresh out of harvest and a 2 month trip through south east Asia where wine was unfortunately nowhere to be found or drinkable for that matter. I started to get the bug again for making wine and I began to think of home and my father. Here I was, a year of traveling around the world from one vintage to the next and where did I want to go? I wanted to go to the one iconic wine region of my country....Napa. Now I wouldn't say my father was the reason I decided to become a winemaker but growing up drinking some of the best Cabernets from Napa certainly did have its influences. I can recall a recent thanksgiving a few years back where my whole family was locked up in Arizona on a cold winter day having a beautiful meal and celebrating the merriment of the holidays. My grandpa was rich with humor from all the margaritas and Texas Hold Um he had been participating in all afternoon with my father. My sister however and grandmother were butting heads that day and as the last dish was placed on the table everything came to a head. Now before I tell you the punch line I must tell you my father prides himself in his rare Cabernet that he so willingly loves to share with us on holidays. So when people don't appreciate him parting with his babies due to being preoccupied with arguing you can only imagine what would come next. My father is a soft spoken great listener who feels he only really should raise his voice if he is truly passionate about a situation and this was on of those few times that the voice came out. So my sister starts up with my grandma and I even think I somehow got dragged in there as my grandpa began throwing one liners on the side line, which although very funny, did not help the situation. Then a loud voice from the end of the table bellows out and says,"If we all cant get along then you don't deserve to be drinking my good wine." He grabbed the bottles from the table and held them hostage as everyone went silent and instantly everyone made up because we knew we were not going to miss out on those bottles. Moral of the story being..If Cabernet made my father passionate enough to speak up, I would have to be passionate about learning how to make it!
So there I was Ipad in hand flicking off emails and resumes to Napa from Australia with the taste of Cabernet in my mouth. A taste that always brings me back to the great moments I have shared with my family as a young girl and I wanted to now discover it. So after a week of many opportunistic offers in Napa, I came across this Email from Anna Monticelli, the winemaker at Pina Cellars and her response to my resume was like nothing I had ever experienced. She wrote me two pages about her past and her journey to becoming a winemaker and her time at Pina. This obviously moved me very much and after reading about the wines at Pina, we planned a date to speak from two opposite ends of the world to see if I was a good fit. It only took about five minutes before I realized that Pina was my destiny for the upcoming summer and I packed my bags and was headed for Napa.
I landed and the next I was off to work and met Macario Montoya, the assistant winemaker at Pina. I was brought up to speed in a few weeks walking all the vineyards with Macario and picking Anna's brain about what was to come. They both gave me the freedom to learn and think independently and do things in the industry that I never had the chance to participate in. I never could have imagined that, here we are just two weeks out till harvest and not one grape crushed. But I have already learned more here in one month about wine making, than in the year prior. I am inspired by Macario and his insistent ways of making me become a better winemaker everyday without sweating the small stuff and believing in myself. If that's not a great mentor then I don't know who is. Anna's knowledge and belief in me thus far has opened my eyes to the strong females in this industry and made me realize that as a winemaker you have to have many dimensions to fight with the best and she does.
It's Wednesday morning and all I have done is managed to clean a few portable tanks and the inside of the press and I'm already sore. So on that note I am going to kick this butt in Harvest gear and make my team proud because this vintage I'm making Napa Cab!