We are proud and thrilled to introduce Ryan Schmaltz as the new winemaking here at Trattore Farms. Raised near Columbus Ohio, Ryan began his love affair with wine working in the restaurant industry. Tasting through the wine portfolio of the restaurant where he worked, Ryan distinctly remembers his favorite being a Gigondas. Thus his love for Rhone inspired wines were sparked and his journey to becoming a winemaker had begun, though not yet in earnest.

Ryan originally enrolled at Miami of Ohio to study chemistry in order to become a cardiologist. But there his love for wine and desire to understand the chemistry behind the grapes and winemaking came to the forefront and instead of taking the MCAT, Ryan took the GRE and went on to the University of Virginia to pursue a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry.

His passion for winemaking could not be denied and about a year and a half into his postdoc, it finally clicked: Ryan wanted to use all he had learned and experience to make exceptional wine. He and Sara packed their bags, gave notice on his post-doc and moved up to Sonoma County. There Ryan accepted an intern position at Bella for the 2012 harvest and the rest is history!

Ryan melds art and science to inform his winemaking process. He’s of the opinion that if you make wines by nothing but the numbers, the wines tend to be technically sound, but lack character, however, if you make wines based only on how it has been done for centuries and trust your gut over all else, the wines can be gorgeous, but also very inconsistent and vintage dependent. Ryan strives to find the balance between the art and science of winemaking to produce beautiful and complex wines, but also achieve a high level of consistency.

He believes that the way to consistently make great wine is to understand what is happening to that fruit at every stage of its life, from bud to bottle. With this insight and attention to detail, it’s possible to be proactive rather than reactive and head off issues before they happen. Being reactive in winemaking requires you to intervene, which invariably changes the final wine. Ryan ascribes to the theory that his real job as winemakers is to create a favorable environment, clear the roadblocks for the fruit and let it develop on its own, with as little intervention as possible. That’s how you get a true expression of the variety and of the site on which the fruit is grown. “Quite simply,” says Ryan, “our job is to not screw it up! Which is a lot more difficult than it sounds!”

At Trattore Farms Ryan modifies his strategy to best address the issues of that vintage and try to avoid getting in the way. The minute you think you have seen it all, something new and totally pops up. Ahhh the rush of crush!

When he’s not making wine, Ryan can be found cooking with his wife Sarah, playing with his son Asher or his pup Cora, and working in the garden. Ryan also loves to get away and camp with his family and makes wine with his wife, Sarah, in his free time.