Sara Fowler joined Peju as the Winemaker in the summer of 2006, bringing a wealth of knowledge and creativity into the cellar. Sara’s passion for Bordeaux varietals and knack for innovative blending make her the perfect fit to lead Peju’s winemaking team.
Sara cut her teeth in the wine industry as a seasonal member of the Kendall-Jackson Winery staff during high school and college. The experience with Kendall-Jackson and mentoring from then Head Winemaker Jed Steele (Steele Wines) laid a solid foundation and taught her key winemaking concepts. Jed has since become an “inspirational character” within her wine industry circle.
But Sara was no stranger to agriculture. Her family has owned and operated a 400-acre organic ranch dating back to 1884. Though she initially studied Art upon entering the college ranks, Sara took a year hiatus from school and lived in Mexico on a sailboat where she reflected on a future career. She decided to redirect her passion, pedigree and expertise back into viticulture.
Upon returning stateside, Sara began to help her family plant wine grapes on their organic ranch. She took a very active role in their new venture and chose the varietals and rootstock, installed the drip tubing and eventually pruned the vineyard. At the same time, she also served as an Enologist Assistant during crush at Kendall-Jackson. From these efforts, Sara decided her new focus would be in the wine industry as a Winemaker.
Sara applied and was accepted to Fresno State. She doubled as a student and research assistant for the Viticulture Enology Research Center (VERC). Upon completion of the program at Fresno State, Sara worked for seven-plus years as the Associate Winemaker at Franciscan and Mt. Veeder Winery under Larry Levin, where she honed and perfected the craft. Through her tenure at Franciscan, Sara worked abroad during the 2002 harvest season in Chile for Veramonte.
Sara also had the honor to work with world renowned wine consultant Michel Rolland, where she gleaned from his experience and knowledge. She also played a role in the terroir-driven Bordeaux blends of Quintessa and Estancia from 1999 to 2002, where she was able to utilize her talent for blending and creating Meritage wines.
As the keystone of Peju’s wine team, Sara’s commitment to excellence in the vineyard and in the cellar is extraordinary. In September 2007, Sara headed Peju’s efforts to gain organic certification in the Rutherford Vineyard and she is overseeing the winery’s sustainable farming efforts in the Persephone and Wappo Vineyards with organic certification goals in the near future.
“The Peju vineyards are excellent properties,” Sara explained. “The diversity is extremely exciting. I’m enjoying having a hand in maintaining and enhancing the quality reputation of the Peju wines.”
Over the past decade, Sara has traveled the world representing the Napa Valley as a speaker, guest panelist, trainer and wine educator. Sara currently lives in St. Helena with her Husband Matt and three sons. Her interests include travel, gourmet cooking, and wine education.