Interview with Winemaker Sarah Wuethrich of Maggy Hawk Wines

I had the pleasure of being able to interview the wonderful Sarah Wuethrich of Maggy Hawk Wines recently. I love being able to interview winemakers especially those who produce some of my favorite wines. Follow along below to see My Interview with Winemaker Sarah Wuethrich of Maggy Hawk Wines.

Also be sure to visit Maggy Hawk Wines if you’re looking for some great Sonoma Dog Friendly Wineries.

Was there a moment that you remember when you knew that you wanted to be a winemaker?

Initially, being a winemaker was never my ultimate goal. When I was a student at UC Davis, I was enamored with the science of Viticulture and Enology. It wasn’t until many years later that I had the desire to be a winemaker: I would say between the end of my tenure at Lambert Bridge Winery and starting the project at with my good friend Ana Diogo-Draper while simultaneously being hired at Copain as the Production Assistant. After Lambert Bridge, I thought I would step away from the wine industry. I’m glad I was convinced to return.

What was your first wine job?

After I graduated, my husband Ernest (then boyfriend; fun fact: we’re high school sweethearts) and I traveled to visit his family in Peru and Switzerland. I missed working that first harvest post-graduation. As soon as I got back, I was able to find a job at Cooper-Garrod Vineyards in Saratoga, near to where my parents lived. I wore many hats there: lab analysis, sulfuring and topping barrels, pruning vines, and working the tasting room on the weekends. A few months later, I was hired as a Lab Tech at St. Francis Winery in Sonoma Valley, where I spent the next four years honing my technical skills and large production experience.

Where did you study to be winemaker or where were you taught?

I received my B.S. in Viticulture & Enology from UC Davis many years ago and am currently in the Sonoma State Global Wine Executive MBA program.

As a winemaker you taste (and spit) lots of wine, what wine do you feel bad about spitting because you love it so much?

(Grand Cru) Chablis, White Burgundy, grower Champagne, Barolo with some age…not that I drink these things regularly, but would definitely not spit them out!

Who has been the most influential mentor in your career?

It’s a combination of a few people I would say: Jill Davis, consulting Winemaker at Lamber Bridge: she taught me the art of blending and her attentive and detailed approach to small lot, boutique winemaking. I admire the dedication and commitment Jill had year-round to the process, not just making wine from a computer Wells Guthrie, founder and winemaker at Copain: he opened my eyes to the world of wine and his minimalist, transparent approach to winemaking.

Ted Lemon, founder and winemaker at Littorai: although I’ve never worked with Ted, I have had the opportunity to visit with him in his vineyard and have made a few visits with my cellar team to Littorai. His vision and implementation of biodynamic practices is inspiring. This next phase of my career has leaned more heavily towards working in the vineyards, and with my teams there. Not to mention the Littorai wines are classic and beautiful.

Mario Espinoza, Vineyard Manager for Jackson Family Wines/Anderson Valley & Lake County Vineyards: he’s been a great teacher and supporter in the vineyard: from reviewing pruning techniques and mowing cover crop, to collaborating on incorporating regenerative farming practices. He’s also helped me get to know the entire vineyard crew up in Anderson Valley- we now have a few BBQ’s each year, usually in the Spring and after harvest. We taste through the current release of the
Maggy Hawk wines, and the guys get to take home a bottle of each.

What is something you’d like to share about Anderson Valley Wines that many consumers may not know, or have a misconception about?

First and foremost: Anderson Valley is much different from Alexander Valley! Let’s stop confusing the two, ok? It’s about time Anderson Valley has received the recognition for being a world- class winegrowing region, and I’m here for it. Initially known for Alsatian varieties like Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris, our region also produces amazing sparkling wine, Pinot Noir, and cool climate Syrah.
Anderson Valley still keeps its rustic, down-to-earth charm and is a great wine region to explore if you’re over the stuffy experiences you’ll find in our neighboring regions. Two times you should “save the date”: mid-February for the Winter White Wine Weekend, and mid-May for the Pinot Noir Festival.

You make still and sparkling wines. Can you share more about the winemaking process for sparkling and the big differences in winemaking vs. still wines?

Gosh, this is a BIG question and could take up a whole article on its own! I make both a Pet Nat for Maggy Hawk, as well as a Blanc de Blanc for both Maggy Hawk and Windracer (but they’re a long way away from releasing). With sparkling wine, it’s quite laborious, rather precise and technical – in that it’s super high- touch over the course of its life – not to say still wine isn’t, but I would say even
more so for sparkling. Pet Nat requires a good amount of attention up front, but it’s a short process. There’s such a wide range of styles and winemaking approaches for both still and sparkling wine that it’s difficult to narrow down.

What is your favorite after work drink?

La Croix Tangerine or Pamplemousse, or Spicy mezcal margarita

What is your favorite local spot in Healdsburg?

Had a fantastic meal at Troubadour. Love the new Madrona too. I often stop for coffee at Plank on my way up to Anderson Valley, definitely a favorite.

Tell us something that would surprise people about you?

I guess that I have a pretty good arm, and am a decent softball player overall… I played fast pitch softball for many years- catcher, short stop and third base. But people seem most impressed with how fast I can throw the ball.

Maggy Hawk Wines

No Comments Yet.

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *