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Having grown up in a farming family, as a teenager Susan
was certain that she
did not want a career in agriculture.
However, after much soul searching and reminiscing about her
days as a young girl making dandelion wine with her
decided to transfer to UC Davis
to pursue a degree in viticulture.
Upon completion of her studies, Susan started her career as a winemaker at Hacienda Winery, a 20,000 case family winery in the Sonoma Valley, Susan learned invaluable hands-on experience.
explains, "Working at a small winery, you get to do everything: vineyard thinning, sampling, experimentation, pump maintenance, winemaking, problem solving, sensory analysis, blending and bottling line production.
Susan carried this experience to Kendall Jackson and then to Dry Creek Vineyard where she worked for eight years, developing her intense love of Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc.
In the fall of 2000, attracted by SIMI's reputation as an industry leader in winemaking technology, Susan joined the SIMI team.
In 2011, Susan was promoted to Director of Winemaking.
At SIMI, Susan directs the day-to-day winemaking processes and oversees a talented team who collectively strive to showcase the best that Sonoma County's fruit has to offer.
also works hand-in-hand with SIMI
grower and vineyard management partners to source the highest quality Sonoma County grapes, and assists the marketing and sales departments in promoting the unique nature of Sonoma County wines.
In celebration of Women's History Month, ...
In celebration of Women's History Month, Wine Enthusiast caught up with Susan Lueker, Simi Winery's Director of Winemaking, to talk about the life and times of the dynamic Isabelle.
Our Winemakers - Simi Winery
Director of Winemaking
, who as a young girl made dandelion wine with her
father on the family farm, says she
always wanted to be a scientist.
At the University of Missouri she
studied chemistry and medical child development then went to graduate school.
Partway through, she transferred to the University of California, Davis to pursue a degree in viticulture.
enology class visited vineyards for the first time, she
wanted to be a winemaker.
She started her career at Hacienda Winery, took the experience she gained there to Kendall-Jackson and then went to Dry Creek Vineyard where she worked for eight years.
Susan joined Simi in 2000.
In her new position, Lisa works alongside Director of Winemaking, Susan Lueker, and the SIMI winemaking team.
Shouldn't it be as delicious as ...
Shouldn't it be as delicious as possible?) We chatted with Susan Lueker, director of winemaking at Simi Winery, to get the deets on all the ways you're probably doing this whole wine thing wrong. (Though really, no judgment.
I mean, I pair mine with french fries.)
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Stop Serving Your White Wine So Damn Cold
"Over-chilling whites is the mistake I come across most often," says Lueker
"Lighter bodied reds including Pinot, Zinfandels, and Port wines show (AKA taste) better with a slight chill around 57 to 61°F," says Lueker
Sometimes this can kill a fragile older wine," says Lueker
"Letting all wines breathe just a bit after opening will help them show their best," says Lueker
"One thing I learned from a master of wine is that white wines can really benefit from breathing.
Experiment with it and see what happens. "
You Don't Need to Rinse Your Wine Glass if Switching from White to Red or Vice Versa
"Rinsing the glass with water will dilute the wine, which will impact the flavor in a negative way-much more than few drops of wine would," says Lueker
Don't Try to Be Fancy When Describing Your Wine
"Wines are like people and can be described the same way you describe your friends," says Lueker
It's disappointing not to drink a wine when it's showing its best," says Lueker
isn't playing around: "If you're drinking wine from stemware, make sure you use the stem!
"It's fully American-a combo of merit and heritage-so it's not meant to be pronounced with a French accent," says Lueker
Made in Sonoma County » Wine
All and all stellar vintageâ€� - Susan Lueker, Director of Winemaking at Simi Winery
Our tank space is tight, our white barrels are almost filled.Â We are about 75% in and wishing we were further.Â This is when the carb loading pays off.Â Weâ€™re heading towards the finish line and hoping our experience and planning are paying off.Â We have all of our whites and Pinot Noir in and they are showing so well, it makes you proud to taste the delicacy and vibrancy they are showing so early.Â The Sauvignon Blancs are finishing and showing great concentration and edginess of young wines.Â Bordeaux varietals are still hanging out there becoming perfectly ripened in this glorious fall weather, promising great flavors in the field.â€� - Susan Lueker
, Director of Winemaking at Simi Winery