Women winemakers strive for greatness

Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:40am EDT
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Some winemakers are born into it, others stumble upon it, but all desire to achieve greatness in the glass.

California winemaker Theresa Heredia, 38, accidentally found her way to wine making.

"I'm actually kind of a geek," she admitted.

Heredia had planned to get a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California at Davis but after more than few glasses and late night study sessions with colleagues from the school's viticulture and oenology program, she switched disciplines.

During a two-month stint working at one of Burgundy's most prized estates, Domaine Hubert de Montille, she found her true passion, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and a greater understanding, not of quantifying and precision, but of tradition.

"The most important lesson I learned was that less manipulation is better," she said, adding that good lees - the dead yeast cells that pool at the bottom of the tank once fermentation is completed - "are what help to preserve the freshness, character and regionality of the terroir."

Consequently, her wines for Freestone, a Sonoma county estate owned by the makers of Joseph Phelps wines are unfiltered, unfined and the fermentation is natural.

"I would say that winemaking is all about extracting the purity and essence of the grape and the essence of the terroir," she explained.   Continued...

<p>A worker pick grapes at a vineyard at Napa Valley winery Cakebread Cellars, during the wine harvest season in Rutherford, California in this file photo from September 12, 2008. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith</p>