When it comes to crafting wine, Cara brings an uncommon wealth of knowledge and passion to Sonoma-Cutrer. As a native of San Jose, Cara chose to attend the University of California at Davis, initially declaring as a pre-med major. But fate has a way of intervening. By chance, she attended an intro to winemaking class and knew immediately that she had “found her people”. On the spot, she followed that professor back to her office, changed her major and she has never looked back.
After college Cara spent a year traveling the other winemaking regions of the world, working at wineries in Australia, Chile, and New York while also studying the craft in New Zealand, Eastern Europe, Italy, Germany, and France.
Out of money but full of energy, Cara joined the Jekel Vineyard winemaking team in 1998. In 2000, she was selected as the Winemaker/White Wines at Fetzer Vineyards. During that time, she particularly enjoyed working with a variety of grapes including Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Viognier and, of course, Chardonnay.
Cara often talks about the first time she tasted Sonoma-Cutrer and in that moment, she knew that this food-friendly, well-balanced style was the Chardonnay that she wanted to make. She got that wish when she joined the Sonoma-Cutrer team in 2005 and immersed herself in crafting Chardonnay in our classic, Burgundian style.
She considers Chardonnay a special grape that allows the winemaker more versatility than any other. Sonoma-Cutrer’s intense focus on Chardonnay gives her the opportunity to uphold the traditions of the brand while still being innovative. Today, Cara loves that her role allows her to experiment with juice fermentation and barrel maturation techniques of both of Sonoma-Cutrer’s Burgundian grape varietals – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Winemaking is often a family profession and, true to form, Cara is married to another Sonoma County winemaker and they live with their two children near the winery. When Cara isn’t busy making wine, she enjoys skiing, hiking, and volunteering with local nonprofit organizations.