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Sarah Quider Looks Back at 2020 & Shares Her 2021 Vision

Quider was named VP of Winemaking for Foley Family Wines’ Sonoma County Portfolio after it acquired Ferrari-Carano Winery in 2020. Here she shares what she has learned from making wine amidst wildfires, a global pandemic and the evolving standards for sustainability and diversity, and what is coming next.

2020 was quite a year! What were some of your takeaways?

With the wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a very stressful year. It was so wonderful to have a team that could work together safely and get the wines made. Our winemaking team worked hard to harvest our grapes and avoid too much smoke taint but unfortunately our red wine vintage did not make it. We are grateful that, as a white wine house, our white wines made it through the 2020 vintage. 

As you said, smoke taint was a huge problem in 2020 for winemakers. Did your team learn any ways to combat it?

We sent a mixed sampling of wines with smoke taint to professors at a few universities to do some research and find ways that we will be able to work with smoke in the future. Unfortunately, right now there is nothing that can be done if a wine has smoke taint markers.

How are you preparing for the next fire season?

We, like many other wineries, dealt with delayed smoke taint analysis from outside laboratories because of the high demand. To prepare for the next fire season, we have purchased our own equipment that will be able to run smoke taint markers in the future. We are also installing air quality monitoring systems in every block of vineyard so that we can see exactly the level of smoke within every site.

What are your predictions for the 2021 harvest?

Despite the recent rainy days, we have not received enough rain for the upcoming frost and harvest season. We’re hoping this will change in the coming months. 

Ferrari-Carano has been recognized as the most sustainable wine producer in Sonoma County. How will your team continue to practice and improve eco-friendly habits?

We have been sustainably farming for years now but have not made our winery sustainable. Our 2021 goal is to become certified sustainable within our winery facilities. We have a responsibility to do our part to save our plant so we are currently looking at every aspect of the winemaking process to see where we can make the biggest difference. For example, we are considering using new technology that will lower our carbon footprint and looking for any ways to reduce our water usage.

You have a great female winemaking team and just stepped into an exciting leadership role. What has being an influential woman winemaker meant to you? 

I do have a great all-female winemaking team and I certainly hope I have inspired them to smell and taste everything and then spend time thinking about it. I am still learning and trying new things all the time and try to encourage my team to do the same.

What about Ferrari-Carano’s growers? How do they fit with your team?

We have been working with our growers for many years now and I truly believe they are an extension to our own estate vineyards. Our relationships with them are valued and absolutely vital. 

Any wine trends for 2021 that you are excited or apprehensive about? Wine seltzer? The return of boxed wine? Canned wine? Large format bottles?

All of them! I like to enjoy all types of wines and look forward to trying any new trends. 

Diversity in the wine industry was a large part of the conversation at this year’s Unified Symposium, how has Ferrari-Carano/FFW considered ways to promote inclusivity?

Ferrari-Carano has always embraced diversity and will continue with that standard in the future.

Any other thoughts on the state of the industry right now?

Well, we could all use a little bit of a break from all these fires in California! As an industry, we will need to do some more research on smoke taint markers and how to better analyze exactly what we are smelling. Sometimes the numbers don’t quite add up to the analysis. 

What are you looking forward to in 2021?

I look forward to working with everyone at Foley Family Wines and the quality of wines that will be made from all the fantastic wineries within the Sonoma County portfolio.

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