Honoring Women in Wine:
Cadamatre on believing in and standing up for oneself, and not being afraid of failure
Interviewed by Elizabeth Smith
1. How did you get your start in wine?
My husband famously said, “We should start a vineyard. My family in Italy did it. It can’t be that hard.” I told him I would research how difficult it was. I changed my major from horticulture to viticulture because I fell in love with grapevines while trying to learn how difficult they were to grow. I became a winemaker after graduating from Cornell in 2006.
2. Where are you in your career now?
I am 18 years into my career and have accomplished much of what I wanted to do when I was just beginning. I became a Master of Wine in 2017 and started my brand, Trestle Thirty One, in 2015. Those were my two main goals when I started down this path.
3. How do Naked Angels empower you as a winemaker?
The Angels have allowed me to focus on making great wine. The hardest part about owning your own brand is selling the wine. With Trestle Thirty One we have grown slowly because of limited funding. We make what we can sell. Angel funding allows us to make wine at a reasonable scale which is a huge win for the entire Finger Lakes region.
4. What’s a BIG lesson you’ve learned along the way?
You can’t make great wine out of bad grapes. You must make the wine that the grapes want to make. Don’t fight the fruit. You will always lose.
5. What’s the message you have for other women winemakers?
Often others won’t believe in or listen to you. Learn to believe in yourself and listen to your inner voice. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. It may go against your nature but it’s important that you don’t let people use you. Finally, don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is a lesson. Think of it as learning. Pick yourself up and keep going.
6. What is your big hope for women in wine in the future?
I hope more women are aware that winemaking is a career choice, and we figure out how to balance winemaking and motherhood. It’s a delicate balance but possible with the right support.
Lastly – is there a women’s empowerment organization or cause you support or would like to?
Women of the Vine and Spirits is fantastic. I attended one of their conferences a few years ago. I appreciated the caliber of speakers and the amazing women I met. It’s important that we have such communities to discover mentors or be one. That is what networking is all about.
Elizabeth Smith is a freelance wine, food, and travel journalist as well as a communications and social media specialist based in the Napa Valley.