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Susy Vasquez: Exceptional Winemaker at Peltier Winery and Vineyards

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Susy was born and raised in the town of Cochabamba, located in the valley region of Bolivia. Her youth in the countryside sparked her love of agriculture and led her to Universidad Mayor de San Simon to receive her BS in agriculture. Susy came to the United State on an internship at California Polytechnic State University in organic crops, and later she became a liaison between the winemakers and vineyards for Gallo. When she discovered her passion for winemaking, she sought and achieved her Winemaker Certificate from UC Davis Viticulture Department, and spent ten years developing impressive wines at Gallo and Constellation. She joined Peltier Winery in 2016, where her skills and knowledge are now creating exceptional new wines with her unique style.

HERLIFE Magazine visited recently with Susy to get her perspectives on winemaking in Lodi and to learn about some of herfuture endeavors.

HLM: Do your upbringing and heritage have an influence on your winemaking?
SV: I was always drawn to agriculture. The spices and flavors from my grandmother’s kitchen inspire me and continue to bring memories to my palate that I often reflect on during the winemaking process.

HLM: What are some of the differences you see coming from a larger winery such as Gallo to a family-owned winery? As the winemaker, what are the benefits to you?
SV: I was working with big lots of fruit and spending what I felt was too much time behind the desk in comparison to being in the field. Having the opportunity to be a part of every step of the winemaking process is important to me. Making decisions when to pick and monitoring the flow on the crush pad allows for more control over the process. The Schatz family has welcomed a different style of winemaking, and they are open to my creative ideas, encouraging my growth as a winemaker.

HLM: How do you feel the Lodi region, specifically the climate and soil, have an effect on grapes?
SV: There is something different about Lodi–the soil, the Delta breeze cooling the air in the evening. The winemakers and growers before me knew there was opportunity to grow quality fruit that rivals our neighboring growers on the coast. The friendly environment, from local businesses and the tasting rooms to the restaurants and local retailers, gives Lodi a unique destination for wine tourism.

HLM: Some people feel all the rain this year will have a negative effect on the fruit. What do you think?
SV: Just the opposite. So far, with the white wine fruit, I’m tasting more flavor in the field and I’m anxious to move forward in my process and uncover what develops.

HLM: What are you looking forward to with Peltier Winery?
SV: We will be breaking ground on the new tasting room sometime next year. The goal is to become a destination winery.

Also, continuing to develop an oaky chardonnay is an exciting endeavor for me. I had never fermented in barrels prior to this vintage. Producing a chardonnay with more oak flavors from the barrel-fermenting process was an opportunity I had always wanted to experience and grow upon.

Sauvignon blanc is an exciting white wine to me. In 2015, I went to New Zealand and had the opportunity to be a part of harvest over six weeks. When I returned, I had a new ambition for sauvignon blanc. Picking at the right time and respecting the fruit are essential to our process at Peltier Winery. If we pick at the right time, I don’t have to manipulate the juice.

HLM: As a working mom, how do you practice time management?
SV: My husband is a great partner; he is very supportive and understanding. We work together on organizing the schedule for the week, especially during harvest, and the key is to be organized.

Susy Vasquez’s impeccable palate for choosing the right grapes and her love for each step of the way in the winemaking process create an infectious enthusiasm at Peltier Winery. Visit the tasting room at 22150 N. Kennefick Road in Acampo to sample her vintages and more from Peltier’s innovative winery. ■