Niner Wine Estates’ winemaker, Amanda Cramer, took home two double-gold medals, best Bordeaux blend honors and the distinction of “Winemaker of the Year” from the 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition.
Producing estate-grown wines for Niner Wine Estates since 2004, Cramer studied enology and viticulture at U.C. Davis before receiving hands-on experience during harvests in Napa Valley, South Australia and Chile.
Soon thereafter, under the tutelage of winemaker Heidi Barrett, Cramer worked as assistant winemaker at Paradigm Winery before moving to Paso Robles and joining the Niner Wine Estates team.
“Given the opportunity to help build a winery from the ground up in this attractive region was something I simply couldn’t pass up,” she said.
Cramer’s worldly experience proved extremely useful when it came time to design Niner’s state-of-the-art production facility.
“During my career, I’ve worked at numerous wineries, which all really vary in design,” she said. “My goal was to take the best of what I’ve seen and create a production facility that is very user-friendly.”
Features of the Niner operation include an indoor crush pad, gravity-driven fruit delivery, and stainless steel fermentation tanks that are accessed from a suspended mezzanine.
“I’ve always loved the combination of agriculture, chemistry, and artistry that winemaking represents,” added the former high school math teacher.
At the end of the day, however, Cramer believes that quality winemaking begins in the vineyard.
“The agricultural aspect is the most important,” she said, pointing out that 2010 will be Niner Wine Estates’ first all estate-produced vintage.
“As winemaker, the most important decision I make is the harvest date.”