Technical Director, Winemaking & Vineyards, Spring Mountain Vineyard
If she wasn’t a vintner, Susan may have become a Tasmanian chocolatier.
How many years have you been in the Napa Valley wine industry?
Of the 25 years I’ve been in the wine industry, six have been in Napa Valley.
How did you get started in the wine business?
I developed a wine passion whilst studying for an Environmental Science degree in Tasmania, Australia. It was cool climate at its best. Since indoor activities were warmer, this encouraged a passion for wine and food after chilly days spent sailing. I went on to study Winemaking and Viticulture in Canterbury, New Zealand.
Which wine was your "a-ha!" wine – the one that made you love wine or inspired you to get into the industry?
It was a great Burgundy I encountered whilst studying at University. This passion continued as I began making wine in Sonoma and crossed the divide when I delved into luscious Napa Cabs. The style diversity from Carneros to Calistoga and the mountain terrain constantly inspires me to keep opening that next great bottle of local Napa Cabernet.
Name a Napa Valley vintner who has influenced you and briefly explain why.
Tom Rinaldi gives new meaning to the word “passion.” His willingness to share his wealth of winemaking knowledge and life experiences is inspirational. He always has a wine key at the ready and a great bottle of vino to share.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?
Working with passionate grape growers, winemakers and marketers. As we share the beauty and diversity of Napa Valley with consumers, do we realize how lucky we are?
What are the greatest challenges?
The greatest challenges are to develop viticultural and winemaking practices to address the changing weather patterns and labor shortages. We also want to ensure we are known as “iconic wine” producers across the global marketplace.
How does your winery help tell the Napa Valley story?
The vineyards that comprise the Spring Mountain Vineyard were established in the late 19th century by Napa Valley’s first wine pioneers, who brought European tradition with them. Today we continue to produce exclusively estate grown wines from these historic vineyards, blending Old World tradition with New World innovation.
If you weren't a Napa Valley vintner, what would you be doing?
I’d be an environmental scientist or a chocolatier in Tasmania.
If you could open a bottle of your wine and share it with any three people (living or not), who would they be?
Gandhi, Nancy Wake and my grandmother, who, for a “non-consumer,” had a wonderful palate for expensive wines and was generous with all who graced her dining table.
What's one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m an American citizen with an Aussie accent. I love travel, sailing, flying and other outdoor activities enjoyed with a great bottle of wine and friends to share the experience.