Home Wine Business Editorial Expert Editorial A Day in the Life of a Sparkling Winemaking Apprentice

A Day in the Life of a Sparkling Winemaking Apprentice


By Elizabeth Nixon

QandAAs sparkling winemaking apprentice to Penny Gadd-Coster, Carolyn Craig joined Rack & Riddle in March to help oversee all sparkling wine processing at our custom crush facility. She chose to come to Rack & Riddle to expand her skill set and expertise in sparkling wines.

Carolyn joins us from an extensive winemaking background, most recently as winemaker at Larson Family Winery, where she held various roles over the course of more than 11 years, becoming Winemaker in 2005. At Larson Family Winery, Carolyn garnered top awards, including Best Cabernet Sauvignon and Best of Region in the California State Fair. She also managed custom client operations.

Rack & Riddle’s media relations specialist Elizabeth Nixon chatted with Carolyn for a Q&A on a day in the life of a sparkling winemaker during harvest-time at our large custom crush facility:

Q: What does a typical work day look like for you?

A: My typical work day starts at 6:00 a.m., and depending on the season—harvest—I start with checking fermentations, smelling, tasting and assessing flavors, aromas and fermentation status. I then prepare work orders based on my morning findings, check on sparkling bottling status and perform daily operations.

Q: What have you learned so far as a sparkling winemaking apprentice?

A: My journey as a sparkling winemaking apprentice has been a new experience every day. There is so much to learn and I am amazed at the amount of technique that goes into this process. What I’ve learned so far is to ask questions, learn from those around me and to be confident in myself and my passion for winemaking. Those things I’ve learned far supersede any technical function of making sparkling wine.

Q: Have you learned anything about the sparkling winemaking process that surprised you (or that you just found super interesting)?

A: Everything I’ve learned so far has kept me so interested and excited to see what the next day holds. I think the most interesting thing has been that although we handle a lot of custom lots, each lot is treated as if it is the only lot we are processing. This requires an extreme amount of dedication and organization. I am proud to be a part of such a well-orchestrated team.

Thank you, Carolyn, and congratulations on your first sparkling wine harvest here at R&R!

Carolyn CraigCarolyn Craig’s Bio

Carolyn graduated from Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Agriculture Business and a minor in Wine and Viticulture.

“Experiencing the joy and passion from others, sharing wine I had a hand in making is what made me want to have a career in the wine industry… I love the challenge of winemaking and how the wine is ever-changing, creating the opportunity to always learn something new.”

Carolyn lives in Healdsburg and has a dog Charlie. She enjoys spending time with family (especially 1-year-old niece, Trinity), sewing and quilting, and camping, hiking, and playing in the snow.

Read Carolyn’s full bio here.

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