This April, Zidanelia Arcidiacono (better known as “Z”) joined the Sonoma-Cutrer family as Assistant Winemaker of Pinot Noir. As fate would have it, it’s not the first time she has worked with Cara Morrison, Chardonnay Winemaker, and part of the Sonoma-Cutrer family since 2005.
After gaining experience early in their careers by working harvests across the globe, a deeply rooted passion for wine led both women to Sonoma-Cutrer, where their paths first intersected in 2007.
Cara hired Zidanelia as her first Harvest Enologist, a position she created to run a variety of experiments on everything from winemaking techniques to the materials used in processing. Not only was the job a valuable learning experience for Zidanelia, the women formed a professional bond that would last for years to come.
Though Zidanelia had experience in wineries from Argentina to France, Cara was the first female winemaker that she ever worked with—a refreshing collaboration for both women. Zidanelia credits Cara with challenging her, helping her grow and giving her the tools she needed to be successful.
Throughout her years working in the winemaking industry, Cara has seen a trend toward more female winemakers. She recalls some words of encouragement from one of her own early mentors, Susan Lueker, when working her first ever harvest: As the two fellow “cellar rats” carried heavy buckets up the stairs, Susan turned to Cara and said, “We can do anything the guys can do … it just might take us a little longer.”
When it came time to hire someone to head up Sonoma-Cutrer’s expanding Pinot Noir production, Cara immediately thought of Zidanelia. Her experience as Winemaker for Fetzer Reserve Wines and Little Black Dress made her a perfect candidate.
The supportive professional relationship between these two talented winemakers speaks to the spirit of collaboration that defines the Sonoma-Cutrer family. Zidanelia has always been drawn to the winery’s team environment, where the lines aren’t drawn between Pinot Winemaker and Chardonnay Winemaker.
At Sonoma-Cutrer, everyone is involved in each other’s projects—which elevates the end results every time. The benefit of this mutual trust and respect is, quite simply, better wine all around.