The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2014

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Page 44 of 128

44 / the tasting panel / march 2014 NOTES FROM THE WINEMAKER I have been with Rideau Vineyard for about two years and since have made some significant changes in our facility, vineyard and winemak- ing style. Being a "winemaker" is a very new thing for me. I have always had an image in my head of a winemaker as a man in his 50s with salt-and-pepper hair, who is slightly aloof, has traveled the world and could answer any possible questions about wine with certainty and convic- tion. I am the farthest thing from that; I'm one of the bubbliest people you will meet! When you come to the winery, I will greet you with a big hug and an even bigger smile. I have a hard time talking about the wine I make because I feel it seems boastful—this is very outside of my comfort zone. I am young to be in the position I am in and don't have the years of experience that many winemakers have. However, I will say, I make up for that with heart. I believe there is a point in many people's careers where someone gives them a chance, where someone sees something in you that maybe others haven't. Iris Rideau, our owner, has been that person for me. When I came to the winery there were many things that it needed, and the list continues to this day. We had to make some tough decisions and incur some losses. However, we are still here and now we are rebuilding our image among the industry—which is easier said than done! This project has been my first real shot at this whole "winemaker" thing, and I have put everything I have into bringing this winery to where it is today. I tend to base my level of success on the rela- tionships I have made along the way. My crew is more like a family (dysfunctional at times!) than a group of co-workers that tolerate one another. Any success we achieve is just as much theirs as it is mine. These wines not only are unique and represent a sense of place, but I believe they are special because they tell a story of the people that have made them. I may not yet have a name for myself as a winemaker, but I truly believe what we have been doing is one of the best kept secrets in the Santa Ynez Valley, and once people meet me and taste the wines we are making, it will only be good. We truly are the little winery that could! Wines from the Heart AMANDA BAIRD, THE YOUNG WINEMAKER FOR SANTA BARBARA'S RIDEAU VINEYARD, SHARES HER PASSIONS PHOTO: ROB BROWN Our new Rideau Vineyards 2012 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir ($46) is still very young but it very much represents the types of wine we will be coming out with. It conveys the essence of Old World style: 30% whole cluster, indigenous yeast, extended maceration and is free of additives. My goal is to keep the fruit in its truest sense and I believe this makes for a more unique wine that cannot be replicated. For me, it is about the entire experi- ence, the vineyard, the way in which it was made and the faces of the people who are behind it. Winemaker Amanda Baird, 28, and her trusted assistant, Max.

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