Winemaking Team Expansion
Major Facilities Expansion Prompts Team Growth in Anticipation of a Bustling Year for Northern California’s Largest Custom Crush Wine Service Provider
Rack & Riddle, Sonoma County’s leading custom crush wine service, has recently expanded its winemaking team in preparation for a busy 2019. With a newly automated still wine bottling line and an automated sparkling wine facilities expansion set to be completed in Spring 2019 (more TBA next month), Rack & Riddle is expecting an exciting year in custom crush wine production.
The winemaking team has been expanded by four employees in recent months. The team, led by award-winning Executive Winemaking Director Penelope Gadd-Coster and Head Winemaker Manveer Sandhu, is prepping for the uptick in custom-blended private-label sparkling wines sales, as well as significant demand for full production still and sparkling wine services. They’ve been training staff in advance of the expansion to accommodate their growing customer base.
General Manager Mark Garaventa, says, “Rack & Riddle has experienced a major, transformative year. Our rapidly growing customer base has led us to not only expand our facilities and capabilities, but also to expand our entire team — from winemakers to production personnel. We’re ensuring we can keep up with the high demand for our premium California sparkling wines, and innovative custom crush services.”
Gadd-Coster, says, “We’re excited about the expansion. We’ve compiled a truly diverse, dedicated team. They not only bring their own unique winemaking skills and experience to our production — we are also teaching them the time-honored French Méthode Champenoise tradition of making sparkling wines, in order to pass on a unique artisanal method of making bubbly, paying it forward to future generations.”
Meet the Winemakers
Executive Director of Winemaking
Penny has been with Rack & Riddle since 2007. Her talents have garnered more than 100 medals and awards in the past few years; more than 30 Best of Class, Double Gold and Gold medals in the past few years alone for Rack & Riddle and client wines. Penny was named “Winemaker of the Year” in December 2013, honoring her significant contributions to winemaking. An incredible achievement, as contenders included the top winemakers from Sonoma, Napa and the greater Bay Area.
An accomplished writer and speaker, she was also selected as an expert panelist at the WIN Expo in Sonoma County, the 2015 Women in Wine event in Napa, and most recently at the 2018 Women in Conversation for Sonoma State University.
“Working for Rack & Riddle has given me the opportunity to be an integral part of a company that has been built from the ground up, just like my career,” says Gadd-Coster.
Manveer has been with Rack & Riddle since 2011. Under the direct tutelage of Penny Gadd-Coster he has mastered the art of Méthode Champenoise, advancing from Production Winemaker to Head Winemaker. He manages day-to-day winemaking operations for sparkling wine production as well as overseeing the winemaking team. Under the direction of Penny, he mentors the team to not only advance the art of winemaking, but to pass on the Méthode Champenoise tradition. A graduate of UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in neurobiology, he studied for two years under noted viticulturist Dr. David Smart.
Sandhu, says, “Wine has been my passion for many years, and working for Rack & Riddle has given me the opportunity to help craft amazing sparkling wines. Sharing this passion with our clients and team members has been a rewarding experience.”
Jenn Zeek joined us in 2014, bringing a decade of previous winemaking experience with her. While working for harvest and cellar at several wineries, Jenn pursued a B.S. in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, graduating in 2008. Following graduation, she took jobs working harvest at Balletto Vineyards before moving to lush New Zealand for the 2009 harvest at Mud House Wines, before working at Sonoma Wine Company as a lab tech, where she was promoted to lab manager. She then worked as winemaker for Murphy Family Custom Crush until 2014 when Rack & Riddle took over the facilities and offered her a position to continue on with custom crush.
Zeek says of working custom crush, “The pool of experience you get to draw from working with a myriad of client winemakers is invaluable. I am curious by nature so I enjoy embracing client protocols while also recommending new advances and sharing my own winemaking style.”
Assistant Operations Winemaker
Sarah is the Assistant Operations Winemaker. She assists in all areas of grape-to-bottle still and sparkling wine production. Year-round, she is the evening winemaker, and also assists during harvest at the production facility in Alexander Valley during crush. She’s a seasoned Sommelier not afraid to get her hands dirty and transform fruit into a wonderful product that will delight.
The Latest Recruits:
Sandrine has recently joined our team as our Sparkling Winemaker. She’s responsible for ensuring all Custom Client products meet and exceed established standards for the highest caliber of sparkling wine. She also helps to coordinate all Custom Clients of Rack & Riddle, ensuring excellent customer service, as well as client development.
Erin is an Apprentice Winemaker at Rack & Riddle. She’s one of the latest recruits, having joined us in August 2018 after graduating UC Davis with a Master of Science degree in Viticulture and Enology. She also holds a B.S. in Chemistry from University of North Carolina, Asheville. As Apprentice Winemaker, she is learning all aspects of both still and sparkling winemaking, including the age-old Méthode Champenoise practice that Rack & Riddle is known for.
California native Adam Toomire, is an Apprentice Winemaker. In this hands-on learning role, he encounters all aspects of winemaking: Lab work, cellar work, production management and client relations. Born and raised in Morgan Hill (South Bay), he attended Chico State University, graduating in May 2017 with a degree in Ag Business. He’s been working full-time in wine cellars for the past four years at small, family owned wineries. These small production wineries have helped him grow his skills and passion for the business.
Jordan joined the Rack & Riddle team in April 2018, starting as a lab tech, and quickly advancing to Apprentice Winemaker. As an apprentice winemaker he is learning the art of winemaking and all that entails — from learning the artisan Méthode Champenoise sparkling wine practice — to advanced still winemaking. He works in both our wine cellars and state-of-the-art wine lab doing analysis, and whatever is needed. Originally from Troy, Vermont, Jordan grew up on a dairy farm. You could say that the ag-business is built into his DNA. In 2013, he graduated from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelor’s of Science, Enology degree. Prior to university, he served five years in the U.S. Navy as a Machinist’s Mate with deployments to both Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan (once).
To read their full bios, view our Winemaking Team page.
About Rack & Riddle
With three locations in Sonoma County, California, Rack & Riddle is an innovative leader in the custom crush, custom wine services marketplace. Committed to providing pristine facilities where both internal and client winemakers are able to craft award-winning still and sparkling wines, the facilities are bustling year-round.
The 2018 installation of a state-of-the-art, high-capacity still wine bottling line provides clients with the ability to rapidly produce their wines and keep up with demand. Installation of an automated, high-capacity sparkling wine bottling line will be completed Spring 2019 — just in time for the summer and fall disgorging seasons.
Rack & Riddle offers complete grape-to-bottle and base-to-bottle production for still and sparkling wines, and private-label sparkling wine services. The facilities house nearly two million gallons of stainless steel storage and fermentation vessels. An exceptional winemaking team produces 1.7 million cases of wine annually.
For interviews with the winemaking team, please contact Cynthia Faust, at email@example.com or call (707) 433-8400 x201.
For information about facilities and operations, journalists are asked to contact Mark Garaventa, General Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, (707) 433-8400 x125.