In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re recognizing several of the women leading the Foley Family Wines organization.
Megan Prentice currently serves as Assistant Winemaker at the historic Sebastiani Vineyards in Sonoma, California. Read more about Megan, her experience, and how her team takes great care to continue the legacy that Sebastiani holds in wine country.
Q: WHAT DREW YOU TO THE WINEMAKING PROFESSION?
I was going to college at Sonoma State when I took a lab job in a local winery for harvest. I instantly loved it. I enjoyed the crazy hours, the constant action and most importantly the teamwork. A few months later I was transferring to Fresno State to make winemaking my career.
Q: WHAT LED YOU TO YOUR CURRENT ROLE AS WINEMAKER AT SEBASTIANI?
I started as a lab tech at Sebastiani in 2010. I immediately enjoyed the energy and fast pace of a larger winery. I moved up to Enologist a year later under Mark Lyon. After that, I worked under Leslie Renaud at Roth Estate and learned another perspective. When there was a chance to return to Sebastiani as assistant winemaker I jumped at the chance. This really gave me an opportunity to bring what I learned back to where I started.
Q: SEBASTIANI HAS A LOT OF HISTORY, ESPECIALLY IN SONOMA COUNTY. HOW DO YOU STAY TRUE TO ITS ROOTS WHILE CONTINUING TO EVOLVE?
We’re very lucky at Sebastiani to have a history that goes back to 1904. When visiting the property, you can still see parts of the original winery and we have some of the redwood tanks in our tasting room, which were used up until the 1950s.
Back in the day we were selling our first wine, a Zinfandel, door-to-door by a horse-drawn wagon – obviously, a lot has changed since then! But overall, our goal remains the same: continue to be a part of the Sonoma Valley community and strive to make wines that highlight this premiere growing region.
One of those wines is our Cherryblock Vineyard Cabernet. This vineyard was planted in 1962 and every year produces some our best fruit. One of my favorite things to do is to walk through that vineyard during different times of the year.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR TYPICAL DAY LIKE AS A SEBASTIANI WINEMAKER?
There really are no typical days! That being said, we do have standard seasons. Fall is all about harvest so we will be monitoring vineyards, processing grapes, and monitoring fermentations. Winter will be more about barreling down and evaluating blends, and finally spring and summer our focus is on bottling.
Q: ANY COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT YOUR ROLE?
That I spend all day outside in a vineyard! While I do get to do that occasionally, you are most likely to find me sitting at a desk behind a computer. It is not as glamorous as people think.
Q: DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SEBASTIANI WINE CURRENTLY?
My current favorite is the 2016 Sonoma Valley Barbera. It’s drinking incredibly well right now; the ripe plum flavors and baking spice aromas are perfect for pairing with winter comfort foods!
Q: WHAT’S A VARIETAL YOU THINK IS UNDERRATED?
Chardonnay! Chardonnay really has a bad reputation for being basic, but nothing could be further from the truth. Chardonnay can be made in so many different styles and it’s an amazingly food friendly wine; there is one out there for everyone.