Fall Creek Vineyards Hires a New Winemaker: Sergio Cuadra Schlie
In a recent news release, Susan Auler announced the hiring of a new winemaker at Fall Creek Vineyard – Sergio Cuadra Schlie. He is an experienced winemaker from Chile who was recommended by Paul Hobbs!
Sergio is an Agronomy Engineer and Winemaker with nineteen years of experience in the Chilean wine industry. He had the privilege of having worked in two of the most successful Chilean wine companies, Viña Concha y Toro and Viña Caliterra, sister company of Viña Errázuriz, where he gathered a comprehensive knowledge and skills in many angles of the business, which includes all the way from vineyard assessment to supporting sales teams in several markets. He also lead the production of significant amounts of wines of different varieties over twenty vintages, including one in Fetzer Vineyards in the mid-1990s, and making wines from a wide range of origins in Chile.
Sergio has also taken part in the creation of marketing strategies for new wine brands to be introduced in different markets. Widely experienced on the design, control and managing the annual winery budget. He has also worked with renowned winemakers like Paul Hobbs, Jacques Lurton, and Kym Milne MW.
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Here is an excerpt from Sergio’s 2013 Fall Creek Vineyards vintage report:
Chardonnay. This year we harvested only a very small amount of this variety due to the freezes. Regardless of the small sample, we had the chance to try a whole cluster pressing to direct the juice straight to the barrels to ferment. It took about three weeks to finish and after the first racking it tastes just wonderful. It is such a shame we have so little, because we would love for everyone to taste this wonderful wine. We plan to sell it only through the tasting room. Therefore, if you want a taste of it, you will have to come and get it at Fall Creek Vineyards in Tow!
Merlot. We harvested this on August 8th with a nice ripeness in terms of sugar and taste. There were no green characters after tasting the fruit, which evidenced a good healthy condition. The wine, even though it’s a bit too early to tell, is phenomenal, actually. This was a very good surprise for me as it is difficult to see this quality from where I come. Good color and fruity aromas, soft and round tannins only presage a tremendous wine.
Cabernet. It was harvested on August 15th, just at the right time. Like the Merlot, it already is showing a promising future. As a matter of fact, both are resting in barrels where we are expecting malolactic fermentation to happen. They might be good candidate for Meritus quality, which is our top wine.
Mourvedre and Syrah. We put them together because we wanted them to ferment in the same tank, so we have a co-fermentation of the two. There are very interesting fruit characters and a soft and easy mouth feeling. The idea is to blend them with Grenache to make a wonderful “GSM”.
Sangiovese. This grape was severely hit by the freeze, so a very small amount of grapes were produced. Hence, the plants were not in the best balance to concentrate the fruit, so this is not a good year to evaluate the potential of the grape. Anyhow, with such a small amount of Sangiovese, there is a great chance we will only have it available in the tasting room.
Grenache. It came in on August 29th, even though it behaved like if it did not want to get ripe, strangely enough. It may be one of the grape varieties least hit by the frost, as evidenced from the more generous yield, compared to the short crops of the other varieties. It took its time to ripen, maybe because of the heavier load it had. There is a nice fruity nose and smooth mouth feeling. As usual, color is not its main attribute, but it isn’t all about the color, is it?
Black Spanish. This variety is so well adapted to the local conditions that it was not even harmed by the freeze. The grapes experienced good yield and healthy condition even though the vineyard received some rain in August and early September. The vineyard management went beyond organic practices, limiting them only to irrigation and mechanical weed control so not even a drop of any agrochemical touched the whole vineyard area. The grapes were harvested on September 9th and 10th. As usual, it adds honor to its name when observing its deep red color. We tried a combination of winemaking methods with the Black Spanish, and some look very promising. Stay tuned.
Mother Nature may have been elusive this year in terms of yields, but nevertheless the grapes were carefully handpicked as usual and we are certain of an amazing quality vintage is being nursed at the winery.
Sergio Cuadra, Fall Creek Vineyards Winemaker