As a child, Megan Schofield never imagined herself as a winemaker. Having grown up in St Catherines, Ontario, she was surrounded by grapes, but paid little notice. Initially, her hometown was only known for Concord grapes, but it soon flourished into the booming Niagara wine region.
Attending her town's annual Niagara Wine Festival every year, Megan was unaware of just how paramount grapes would become to her future. As a young woman, she enrolled at Brock University in Ontario as a biotechnology student, but was soon intrigued by the excitement around a new program being offered in enology and viticulture. Her interest piqued, she applied and was accepted into the program – one of only 10 students to do so. In 2000, she joined the first graduating class in receiving an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Enology and Viticulture – her path as a winemaker launched.
With her degree in hand and an inspired vision, Megan set off with grand plans of moving from country-to-country to experience as many grape harvests as possible. She set her first sights on the world-renowned Napa Valley winegrowing region, where she secured a position as an enologist at Beringer Vineyards. She spent three harvests at Beringer where she benefited under the diverse number of winemakers and scale of winemaking, learning as much as possible about Napa's unique terroirs and hallmark varietals, and in particular Cabernet Sauvignon.
From the Napa Valley Megan moved to Sonoma County as the assistant winemaker at Buena Vista Winery. During the next four harvests she worked with estate fruit, crafting small lot wines from prized vineyards in the Carneros-Sonoma region. Her winemaking included a deep dive into Carneros Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – an experience that would prove invaluable to her future path as a winemaker. Megan's Sonoma winemaking knowledge was further deepened in 2008 when she was lured to SIMI Winery as assistant winemaker, and later as winemaker in 2012. At SIMI she sourced fruit from two of Sonoma's most lauded sub-appellations: the Russian River and Alexander Valleys.
In 2015, Megan ascended to her newest role as winemaker for Robert Mondavi winery, leading the Napa, Oakville and Reserve wine programs for their hallmark Fumé Blancs as well as cool climate Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from Carneros-Napa Valley. She also collaborates with the winemaking team in crafting their celebrated Cabernet Sauvignons. Megan views her return to the Napa Valley as a homecoming that recalls her Beringer days but with an opportunity to complete "unfinished business" -- a full immersion into the Napa Valley terroir and what it can bring to the fruit and ultimately, the finished wines of the region. Working at such an iconic Napa Valley property as the Robert Mondavi Winery under director of winemaking Genevieve Janssens and with fruit from the venerated To Kalon Vineyard is in her words, "winemaking nirvana!"
With regards to her winemaking approach, Megan aims to stay true and respectful to the legacy and style of Robert Mondavi, crafting wines that are balanced, varietally authentic and expressive of vineyard or place. With that in mind, she ascribes to gentle and non-invasive winemaking: "Don't mess up what the vineyard gives you. The best fruit will give you the best wine. In the cellar, I strive to limit the wine's movement: let it age on its own, coaxing complexity out of it but with a minimal, hands on approach." Ultimately, Megan is mindful that she, Genevieve and fellow winemaker Joe Harden are the keepers of Robert Mondavi's vision for what she calls "sit down wines." "For Mr. Mondavi," she explains, "wine was all about sitting down, lingering with friends or family over a meal and enjoying a great bottle of wine together."
As for her early ambitions to travel the world making wine, Megan is more than content to stay put in the Napa Valley and at Robert Mondavi Winery: "The Napa Valley is one of the world's most renowned winegrowing regions and Robert Mondavi Winery is the jewel in the crown. I have everything I could ever hope for as a winemaker at this celebrated Napa estate, and I'm excited for what lies ahead here."
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