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Winemaker Sara Fowler

Sara Fowler

Winemaker at Liana Estates & Peju Province Winery

Napa, California

Number of Years in the Wine Business: 22

Favorite Quote: Well behaved women seldom make history

Winemaker Sara Fowler

Sara Fowler joins Liana Estates with decades of winemaking experience, pouring her knowledge, passion and creativity into a new taste of Carneros. Sara’s passion for innovative blending makes her the perfect fit for Liana Estates’ modern winery concept, paying homage to the Carneros region’s notable Pinot and Chardonnay while also cultivating "lost grape" varietals.

Sara’s first foray into the wine industry was at Kendall-Jackson Winery as a seasonal staff member during high school and college. There, she gained a solid foundation of winemaking and mentorship from then Head Winemaker Jed Steele (Steele Wines). But Sara was no stranger to agriculture – her family has owned and operated a 400-acre organic ranch dating back to 1884, which served as Sara’s very first vineyard after deciding to pursue winemaking as a career.

While she initially studied Art in college, Sara took a year hiatus from school and lived in Mexico on a sailboat where she reflected on a future career. When she moved back, Sara applied and was accepted to California State University, Fresno, where she doubled as a student and research assistant for the Viticulture Enology Research Center. Upon completion of the program, she worked for more than seven years as the Associate Winemaker at Franciscan and Mt. Veeder Winery under Larry Levin, where she refined and perfected her craft. Through her tenure at Franciscan, Sara worked in Chile for Veramonte during the 2002 harvest season. She also had the honor to work with world-renowned wine consultant Michel Rolland, as well as use her talent for blending and creating Meritage wines in the terroir-driven Bordeaux blends of Quintessa and Estancia from 1999 to 2002.

Over the past decade, Sara has traveled the world representing Napa Valley as a speaker, guest panelist, trainer, and wine educator. Most recently, she has served as winemaker of the legendary Peju Province Winery in Napa Valley. She currently lives in St. Helena with her husband, Matt, and three sons, and enjoys travel, gourmet cooking, and all things wine.

I love my job because:

I have the privilege to make a product that puts a smile on someone’s face; to create something from raw ingredients that ends up on someone’s dinner table, shared with family and friends.  How amazing is that?!

I got the passion to become a winemaker from:

Two people. My father, who started teaching me about fermentation when I was young, and Jed Steel (Winemaker that put Kendall Jackson on the map). I worked with him when I was in high school and during my early college days and I LOVED the lifestyle, the passion and the cyclical aspects that surround making wine.  

My favorite wine is:

Champagne/Sparkling Wine

Favorite wine to wind down with:

I'm sticking with Champagne/Sparkling Wine!

If I could drink it with anyone I would drink it with, where and why:

I would love to share a bottle with my paternal grandparents because they passed before I became a winemaker and I think they would have been delighted with my career choice. We would drink bubbles of course! We would enjoy it on our family ranch (established back in 1884). 

You'd be surprised to know that:

I lived on a sailboat in Mexico for a year in my early 20’s.

My favorite vintage is and why:

That’s a hard one, it’s like choosing your favorite child, you like them all for different reasons.

What I'm excited about this year’s vintage is:

EVERYTHING is tasting amazing!

One thing I hope to accomplish in my life is / my biggest accomplishment is:

I would love to make a wine with my boys one day!

During harvest, a day in my life is like:

Crazy, Crazy Busy – I typically start the day off in the vineyard, then head to the winery to process/crush grapes, taste through fermenting tanks, write work orders (lots and lots of work orders), review analysis, make a bunch of decisions, plan the next day, write more work orders, barrel down some wine, more planning, drink a beer, and then I start all over the next day.

Favorite/Least cooperative grape to work with is:

My favorite grape to work with is Cabernet Franc. It takes patience and focus but the results can be phenomenal.

Biggest obstacle I’ve ever experienced in wine-making:

Mother Nature!

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