anne vawter, winemaker
The daughter of a Walla Walla dairy farmer, Anne learned early on that agricultural work doesn’t come with a lot of vacation days. She graduated from high school prepared to study dentistry at the University of Washington, but something about that cushy career path wasn’t as compelling to her as making a living outdoors. When her father told her about the Enology program he’d just discovered at the University of California at Davis, it sounded almost too good to be true.
After earning a B.S. in Viticulture and Enology, she worked at wineries in Washington, California and Chile before joining the winemaking team at Paradigm Winery here in Napa Valley. She took over as winemaker for Oakville Ranch in 2010, the inaugural year of her first release under her own label, Red Mare.
Blending is the part of winemaking Anne relishes most, and she is delighted to have the opportunity to work with the coveted Oakville Ranch yield. To focus the expression of each vineyard block, to give the wine it’s greatest opportunity to shine—this is how artful blending makes something astonishing year after year. An avid equestrian, she sees numerous parallels between making wine and training horses. In each processes, there are a thousand points at which she makes decisions, each one accumulating over time to create a unique outcome. And yet, the goal is constant: a soft, supple, round result that is pleasing to the connoisseur.
Anne lives on a horse ranch in Calistoga with her husband, Cameron, the director of wine and grape production at Dana Estates in Rutherford, and their two young daughters. The family raises chickens and vegetables and keeps bees. One of their favorite pastimes is something they call the Bellybutton Game, which cracks them up on a regular basis.