Apothic Wines director of winemaking Debbie Juergenson approaches winemaking like a true scientist. A geologist by training, she’s worked as an analytical technician and researcher, but her industry hallmark is her undeniable skills with wine blends. Her incredibly popular Apothic creations arguably started the ongoing craze for California blends.
Q: As someone who has a background in geology, what drew you to wine?
DJ: Experiencing the warm, inviting culture of Sonoma County’s wineries drew me in at first. At the time, I was about to graduate with a geology degree. When I learned more about winemaking, I was thrilled to discover that a geologist becoming a winemaker wasn’t a stretch at all. The soils and regions play an integral part in how the wines are perceived. In my first job, I was lucky enough to become a wine analytical technician. Working side by side with winemakers who mentored me solidified the idea that winemaking was something I wanted to do for rest of my life. Now, my unconventional approach to winemaking (and my willingness to try new things) is the perfect fit for everything we do with Apothic.
Q: What is your Apothic Wines elevator pitch?
DJ: At Apothic we push boundaries to achieve the unexpected, from daring new blends to amplifying the uniqueness of a single-varietal wine. I strive to tell a story with each Apothic blend. Whether it’s one of drama, intrigue or romance, the wines of Apothic are truly original.
Q: Climate change is impacting vineyards around the world, forcing producers to think differently in the vineyard. How has it changed your thinking?
DJ: We actively work to improve our processes, reduce our carbon footprint and preserve natural resources. For example, we recycle and reuse our process water and are working to achieve a 3:1 water-to-wine ratio by 2022. We actively pursue innovations in irrigation systems and adhere to the California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices. All of this has helped us to become more accurate with water applications and increase the quality of the grapes.
Q: How do you approach various challenges in the vineyard or cellar?
DJ: We are maintaining the highest levels of flexibility and agility, and continuing to leverage technology and innovation to help us solve big challenges.
Q: What advice would you give young women who want to pursue a career in wine?
DJ: It’s a wonderful time to be a woman working in wine. Since I started in wine almost 25 years ago, the number of female winemakers and growers has grown every year. Take every opportunity you can to get exposure. Visit wineries, ask questions, network at industry events, get an internship, shadow a winemaker and of course, try all kinds of wines.
WINE INFLUENCER is a regular column that features in WineLand Media’s monthly print issue. It’s a series of interviews with leading personalities in the global wine and agriculture industry.