Winery history? Career choice? Approach to winemaking? Wine preferences? What would you ask a wine maker? Friday afternoon, we got to spend some time with Joseph Maldonado and Peter Vasquez in Cardella Winery’s beautiful gardens and we learned some answers from Cardella Winery’s winemaking dynamic duo.
Touring Cardella Winery with their Winemakers –
We got a private tour with our clients from Joseph. Here are a few glimpses of what we saw.
Cardella Winery’s Beginnings …
Many of us daydream about starting a winery, don’t we? Would you be willing to live in an Airstream trailer in the middle of agricultural land and work from dawn to dusk day after day? That is what Rod Cardella did to start their family’s vineyards.
Day after day the Cardellas worked their vines while leaning on the Tuscan traditions of his family that immigrated from Italy to do it. While not on the same latitude, California’s Central Valley has a climate very similar to that of his Tuscan roots. Many of the best agricultural practices his family had practiced for many years were helpful as he built this vineyard plant by plant and season by season.
Their first vines were planted in the 1970’s and for many years they sourced beautiful grapes to others to create lovely wines. Rod, Jr’s California Polytechnic degree helped to to grow their vineyard’s footprint to 800 cultivated acres of many different grape varietals.
Looking to Their Heritage and Creating a California Winery Dream
Fresno State University’s lauded Enology and Viticulture program developed his love of wine making. However, Nathan was also a terrific baseball player. Baseball took him to the semi-pro player level in Italy. Nathan enjoyed his time playing baseball and in his off time … he visited with his relatives and wineries all over Italy.
After seeing the market was lacking for a good artisanal quality local wine, Nathan Cardella began to utilize all he had learned and began Cardella Winery in 2004. Much like developing the vineyards, the Cardellas literally built their winery stone by stone season after season. Now, they process most of the grapes produced by their 800 acres of vineyards themselves and share it under their family label proudly displaying their Italian family crest carefully crafted by the Cardella Winery winemakers .
Process of Deciding to Be a Vintner?
Naturally, the Cardella family celebrated Nathan getting married on their winery grounds. This celebration required hiring extra hands to help. One set of those extra hands belonged to Joseph Maldonado. During the wedding celebration, Joseph was sent to the cellar to bring up more wine.
Little did he know the request to bring more wine for the wedding would change the course of his life! Joseph had grown up in Dos Palos surrounded by agriculture. As a young man, he loved science and baseball. Those few moments in the Cardella wine cellar ignited a new found passion in Joseph.
He followed Nathan’s path through the Enology and Viticulture program at Fresno State University. Upon graduation, he was hired by a company in Amador County. However, when he heard a winemaking position had opened at Cardella he jumped at the chance. Today, Joseph Maldonado is happily the current lead winemaker for Cardella Winery.
Cardella Winery Winemakers Believe in Teamwork
Day in day out, Joseph works side by side with Peter Vasquez as they steer the Cardella wine creation program from vine through sales. Their pride in their work shines on their faces as they talk about it. From day to day they do whatever is needed for the Cardella vineyard, wine, winery and team to succeed.
Uniquely, their sense of ownership is apparent as they eschew the titles of “Lead Winemaker” or “Assistant Winemaker.” Truly, they feel it is a team effort. This inspires them to step up to handle what each day brings. It empowers the one who first saw the challenge while the other immediately steps up to assist. So while neither Joseph or Peter carry the surname Cardella, they are a part of the family and devote themselves to the Cardella Winery’s ongoing success.
Have you ever asked a winemaker what their favorite wine is? Just for fun … you should.
Asking this question of a winemaker is akin to asking a parent which is their favorite child. They can’t answer it definitively. Instead, both Peter and Joseph deflected our question to tell us the types of wine they are currently studying. Joseph is learning more about sparkling wines. Spain, Alsace, Rieslings and Rhone styled Syrahs have also caught his attention. Peter is focusing more on Sauternes and Petit Sirahs. Smart men, right?
Crazy Questions Folks Ask Winemakers?
No matter your profession we all get asked some crazy questions over time, don’t we? However, we thought it would be fun to share some of the crazy questions Peter and Joseph have been asked regarding wine and winemakers.
How do you get the cherries into the wine to give your wine cherry flavors? Or blueberries or smoke or whatever flavor seems to be their favorite. Truly, they don’t put cherries, blueberries, smoke or whatever flavor you may have in mind into the wine.
Each of these flavors have chemical components. What happens in the wine making process to remind you of these flavors is that the chemical composition of the wine resembles those chemical components.
Perhaps this is a nod to the power of Lucille Ball’s comedy … folks still ask if the crush the grapes with their feet to craft their wines. No. They use more modern presses to accomplish this process now.
Want to learn more about Cardella Wines?
Planning to travel California’s I-5?
Yes? Awesome! Pull off on Panoche Road and drive East to follow the signs to visit Cardella Winery. Sample their Italian hospitality and see this beautiful winery for yourself. Enjoy their wines in their Tuscan styled gardens. Before you leave, join their Wine Club to be able to enjoy the efforts of this family’s labors in your own home.
Don’t live in the United States? Our CKJY Exports team can assist you in importing their vintages to your home abroad. Contact us.
Born a Southern girl, I was transplanted a few times as a Navy wife! Now, our “retired” USN family, calls CA home. As UNC business school grad, I gained lots of useful insights by finding different opportunities and challenges along our military life’s path. Love of traveling, making friends, experiencing other cultures and sharing the best of all that with everyone are now all part of me.