Meet Sonja Magdevski
winemaker at Casa Dumetz.
By nature I have always been a curious cat. I simply cannot stop asking questions in pursuit of answers and, by extension, the authenticity they bring. As a journalist by training and now a winemaker by passion, I am regularly inspired to never quit searching for that moment – the instant where it all makes sense. The two professions also continue to challenge me whether through words or wine, to craft timeless stories that are better when shared with others. After all, a bottle of wine is a story of all the hands that have shaped its progress and the final decisions made by one. As owner/winemaker of Casa Dumetz Wines, my goal is to create vibrant, balanced and approachable wines using the basic ingredients of premium Santa Ynez Valley fruit and hard work. In good growing years, I also make pinot noir from fruit my old man and I planted and farm in Malibu.
As a journalist I am a regular contributor for Malibu Magazine, where I write about unlimited topics ranging from water quality to celebrity profiles and everything in between. Please visit www.sonjamagdevski.com to learn more.
By starting a second career in winemaking as an adult, I approach my work with a lifetime of exquisite flavors, travels and experiences. Yet, never in a million years did I think I would become a winemaker. Winemaking and writing are very similar pursuits – the story is in the grapes, the harvest, the season and the resources allotted for each year. But winemaking wasn’t something I grew up with, unless you can count the batches of jug wine my dad and grandmother made in the garage every autumn. My dad would start each season with, “First you take the grape….” You can take the Macedonian out of the village…
When Emilio and I planted a small pinot noir vineyard in 2004 in Malibu, we wanted to grow something and share the experience with family and friends. We were true garagistes with our hand-crank crusher/destemmer, small basket press and half-ton macrobins. It was when I began sourcing viognier from Tierra Alta in 2008 that I knew my life had changed. Winemaking became bigger than the a 20 ft. x 40 ft. space. I began to soak up all the information I could – ignorance is bliss for only so long. With an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a graduate degree in Journalism, I didn’t need another degree. I needed knowledge. I needed to understand for myself why certain winemaking decisions were made. Most importantly, I needed to understand why I wanted to make certain winemaking decisions from vineyard to bottle. As a journalist, my curiosity always got the better of me.
Luckily, Allan Hancock Community College in Santa Maria is a wellspring of information. The Viticulture and Enology program is pro-people, pro-student and pro-experience, headed by Alfredo Koch. Everything I was learning in class had a direct application in the winery. Today I often say that if I knew then what I know now, I would probably never make wine. Yet, by simply having the confidence to make wine and learn from each and every experience, I have realized that most every obstacle is surmountable with a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. There is no way around that one.
I would not have been able to make wine without the tremendous resources of the Santa Ynez Valley winemaking community. When you need a helping hand, someone is there to help guide you along.
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The Casa Dumetz Team