The Crush February 2023 - 6

By Ted Rieger
The importance of frequent communication and a shared
vision between vineyard managers and winemakers
to achieve success was highlighted along with other
insights and tips provided by four successful wine
production teams during a session at the 2023 Unified
Wine & Grape Symposium.
St. Francis Director of Vineyards Jake Terrell and
Winemakers Katie Madigan and Chris Louton work
together to manage nearly 500 acres of estate vineyards
on four ranches in Sonoma County. Terrell said the team
meets in the vineyard twice a month from January to
August, " to dive into what will happen for the next two
to three weeks, " and to schedule daily operations. He
further explained, " We meet regularly in the field and in
the winery. I'm involved with tastings with Katie and Chris
to understand our wines and their styles, and we also
taste international wines to provide context. "
Madigan said, " The team approach has improved
operations since I've been here. It's important to meet
early and often. Tension arises if you wait too long to
communicate, and if it gets too close to harvest and
expectations are different. " Louton said, 'It's important
to have fun doing this. We're now a close-knit team and
have been working together for 10 years. "
Terrell observed, " I think a lot of teams in this business
butt heads because one side wants yields, and one side
wants quality. " He summarized, " We have discussions
throughout the year to make sure everyone is on the
same page and everyone has buy-in. " On managing
vineyard workers, Terrell advised, " Explain why you want
a particular practice done, rather than just telling them
what to do. Have an open-door policy. When you drive
through the vineyard, have your truck windows rolled
down to be accessible to your workers. "
Tony Bugica, director of farming and business
development with Atlas Vineyard Management, has
shared a long working relationship and friendship with
winemaker Kirk Venge of Venge Vineyards in Calistoga.
Venge talked about a 2012 syrah produced during a hot
vintage. When faced with the need to harvest quickly
before a coming heat wave, Venge called Bugica and
said, " If you can do this, I'll give you a Superman cape.
He had to move mountains to get it done. " Venge called
Page 6 | February 2023
Bugica " a great mentor who taught me a lot about wine
growing. " Venge summarized, " We appreciate one
another, we enjoy it, and today we work together on up
to seven ranches each vintage. "
Bugica's mantra is TEAM-Together Everyone Achieves
More. He explained: " We can't do it alone, and I don't
want to. What I look for in people to hire and work with
is someone who's humble and hungry. If you think you've
figured it all out, forget about it. " He advises giving
people the tools they need and keeping teams nimble
to respond to changes and unexpected circumstances.
" We have great relationships with farm labor contractors
and other vineyard management companies, because
we have to work together, and for the community, when
things occur like fires and COVID, " Bugica said.
Domaine Carneros CEO Remi Cohen and vineyard
manager Tim Rowe have worked together for a short
time, but both are highly experienced industry veterans.
" It's critical for winemakers to be out in the vineyard,
and for vineyard managers to taste wines with the
team, " Cohen advised. To avoid working in " silos " she
said her company holds regular, bilingual meetings
with all departments together, and within individual
Rowe said, " I take the winemakers into the vineyard with
me to understand what's being done. I want them to feel
welcome in the vineyard and to know that their input
is valuable. " He looks for opportunities to streamline
operations, to use technology for data collection
and mechanization, and he's examining vine clonal
differences to maximize the timing of operations.
Cohen talked about the winery's involvement with
internal and external mentorship programs. The internal
program allows any employee to be paired with a
co-worker/mentor. " This creates cross-department
opportunities for people starting out in their careers to
explore other paths within the industry and to learn more
about other winery operations, " Cohen said.
Napa-based consulting winemaker Andy Erickson
works with Constellation Brands Director of Vineyard
Operations Blake Wood to produce high-end wines for
Constellation's To Kalon Vineyard Company from the
iconic To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville. They discussed the

The Crush February 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Crush February 2023

The Crush February 2023 - 1
The Crush February 2023 - 2
The Crush February 2023 - 3
The Crush February 2023 - 4
The Crush February 2023 - 5
The Crush February 2023 - 6
The Crush February 2023 - 7
The Crush February 2023 - 8
The Crush February 2023 - 9
The Crush February 2023 - 10