Monday, February 18, 2013

2/18-Nicole Nielsen talks to Megan McGrath and Jim Fiolek

Megan was appointed winemaker for Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards in 2007.  Having graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Soil Sciences, she earned her Certificate in Winemaking at U.C. Davis before working as an enologist for Flowers Vineyard & Winery on the Sonoma Coast, crafting Burgundy-style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  As winemaker for Cahill Winery in Sebastopol, she had the opportunity to work with Sonoma, Mendocino and Napa Valley grapes, specializing in small lot Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Bourdeaux varietals, and Syrah.

A Biography of Megan McGrath
 Megan McGrath is an eighth generation Californian with a heritage profoundly tied to the land, as the 
family’s Ventura County ranch was maintained until the ’70s. “My mom romanticized the farming life, and 
even though I grew up in suburbia, I felt it deeply,” explains McGrath. She also remembers having a keen 
sensory awareness as a young child and suggests, “I was building a catalog of tastes and smells that I now 
use in my winemaking.” When McGrath was a student at Midland School in Los Olivos, she took her first 
geology class from an influential teacher that inspired her to think about the world in terms of the natural 
  McGrath graduated from Cal Poly 
San Luis Obispo in 2001 with a degree in 
Soil Sciences and earned her Certificate in 
Winemaking at UC Davis. Her first job after 
graduation was working for the Cachuma 
Resource Conservation District, where she 
was involved in promoting soil conservation 
for agriculture including vineyards. Before 
arriving at Lucas & Lewellen as Assistant 
Winemaker under Winemaker Daniel Gehrs, 
McGrath made wines in Sonoma County for 
four years, most recently as the winemaker 
for Cahill Winery in Sebastopol, where she 
had the opportunity to work with Sonoma, 
Mendocino and Napa Valley grapes. She 
managed the winery facility and made wine 
under the Cahill label as well as for custom 
crush clients, specializing in small lot Pinot 
Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux varietals, 
and Syrah.   
Prior to that position, McGrath was retained 
by Flowers Vineyard & Winery on the 
Sonoma Coast as their Enologist, crafting 
Burgundy-style Pinot Noirs and 
Chardonnays. As a soil scientist, she was an 
apprentice to Dr. Alfred Cass with Integrated 
Wine Growing Consortium, a group of 
consultants who are leaders in the field of vineyard development and management. McGrath co-authored an 
article published in the journal of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture titled Compost Benefits 
and Quality for Viticultural Soils. As a passionate winemaker, McGrath may adhere to centuries-old 
viticultural traditions, but she is also tech savvy, utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to maximize 
data relating to the land, displaying it visually using points, lines and polygons.  
  “We make many decisions during the growing, fermenting and aging stages, but ultimately the grape 
really expresses itself,” insists McGrath, who is humble about the winemaker’s role in the process.

Jim Fiolek - Executive Director Santa Barbara County Vintners Assoc

The Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1983 to support and promote Santa Barbara County as a premium wine producing and wine grape growing region. The Vintners’ Association produces festivals, seminars and tastings and provides information to consumers and the wine and travel media.

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