If you spotted 27 year old Olivia Teutschel in a local coffee shop ordering a latte, you would never suspect that moments later she would be on a forklift unloading grapes at Bargetto Winery or inside of a tank scrubbing and pressure washing. As the first female winemaker in the 81 years of winery history, she is blazing new trails. (She admits that during crush she is known to disappear for a few minutes to treat herself to a latte because “It’s like a mini-vacation during a season of long days without weekends)!”
Olivia was hired in 2010 as lab enologist, and promoted in 2012 to assistant winemaker under winemaker Michael Sones. John E. Bargetto, Director of Winemaking says that was about the time when he began thinking that she could be their future winemaker. “Having graduated from the Cal Poly wine program, she brings her technical education, and moreover, she brings her terrific work ethic which is indispensable in this business. In addition to her passion and concern for the pursuit of excellence, she is meticulous with her work and good-natured with her production staff,” he said.
Former Bargetto winemaker Michael Sones of Sones Cellars, part of the Westside Surf City Vintners in the Swift Street Courtyard, says that he had no doubts that Olivia would be up to the job. “She has a good feel for production and is honest and efficient. It takes a certain kind of character to do this job.”
Becoming winemaker at Bargetto is one of her most gratifying accomplishments. “I’ve worked my way up in the ranks here and hoped that this day would come.”
The story of how this young Santa Cruz native became a winemaker began in 2009 with a double concentration in Enology and Wine Business, and a Minor in Agribusiness from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. “I was one of the first to graduate with an Enology degree; the major is still relatively new.”
Even before college, it seemed she was destined to join the world of wine. Her great grandparents brought vine clippings back with them from a trip to France. As part of their lifestyle, her parents enjoy wine almost every day with their meal, and have always visited tasting rooms wherever they travel. She says, “The goal is to have my own brand someday where I can focus on the varietals and style that I want to share with the world. I’m not sure what that style will be, but I’m having a lot of fun figuring it out!”
Wine and Food
When asked what her greatest indulgence is, she said “Can I say wine?” She enjoys exploring other wine regions, visiting friends in the industry and searching for wines that speak to her. “I spend a lot of time at local wine shops browsing the international section. Sometimes I leave with a few bottles of things I want to try; other times I just leave with my favorite beer.” (Illustrating a well-known wine industry adage, “It takes a lot of beer to make good wine).”
Her second greatest indulgence is food. “I really enjoy going out to eat in our local restaurants, especially to try something new with friends. I visit La Posta often. I love the menu changes but I always order their gnocchi when it’s on the list. Café Cruz is a favorite with my family and they have great wines by the glass. “Soif also has a great selection of wines and great food!
I went to Laili for the first time and was so impressed by the food, ambiance and local wine selections. At Paradise Beach Grille, the mix of dishes will satisfy any craving and I enjoy that they are big supporters of local wineries,” she continued.
Visitor’s choice – Urban vs Country
When friends come to visit, she offers them the choice of wine tasting in an urban or a country setting, knowing that they will relish the experience no matter which they choose. On the Corralitos Wine Trail they can witness the changes of season in the vineyards, and by contrast, at Surf City Vintners they can encounter a European feel of community with a range of shops and wineries close by.
‘In vino veritas – In wine there is truth’
John Bargetto says that his mother, the late Beverly Bargetto would appreciate and approve of Olivia’s passion and dedication to excellence.
“In the last ten years we have employed a number of assistants. It was a little like the story of the Three Little Pigs…some were ‘too hot’ and others ‘too cold’, but once Olivia arrived, I thought she might be ‘just right.’ I look forward to working closely with her for decades to come as we seek to produce the best possible wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains.”