Winemaker


Deborah Bennett

Winemaker Deborah Bennett lived a kaleidoscopic life of grand adventure before finding her truest passion in winemaking.

Graduating from Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe, with what she refers to as her "highly impractical Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing," Deborah moved to Los Angeles with dreams of becoming a screenwriter. Working as a Hollywood script analyst, writing for film promotions, and penning horoscopes for Star Scrolls, on a whim she decided to head east to live on a sailboat in Key West, Florida where she worked for the local newspaper and radio station.

Becoming entranced with Native American lore, she moved to Arizona to study Navajo weaving. Having been a long-time wine fan, the pivotal point that would shape her future came when she attended the Taos Winter Wine Festival in New Mexico where she met a wine sales rep who told her about all the wine samples he got to taste "for work" and decided this was the career for her!

Within six months she rose rapidly through the ranks from a wine store sales clerk to a wine distributor sales rep then on to becoming Wine Director at Taos’ Four- Diamond Award winning Chef Joseph Wrede’s Joseph’s Table Restaurant where she won both a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and a Wine Enthusiast Award of Distinction for the original 150-item wine list she created.   While at Joseph’s Table, she also had the honor of pairing the wines with the chef's cuisine for his James Beard Foundation Dinner in New York City.

On a trip to Napa Valley where she obtained her WSET Level 3 (Advanced) Certificate in wine, she decided to stay on, working as a Wine Buyer for high-end retail stores. While attending a Pinot Noir festival in Russian River Valley, she met legendary winemaker Greg LaFollette with whom she began to apprentice, and who shared his 30 years of experience making 90+ Point world-class wines for Flowers, Hartford Court, Truett-Hurst, Lynmar and others.

During her apprenticeship, she assisted Greg with the startup of a new winery in Hunter Valley, Australia. When duties called LaFollette to return to the states two weeks into the project, Deborah stayed on working solo, supervising all aspects of the winery's inaugural vintage of Shiraz and Chardonnay.

After an additional overseas vintage in New Zealand, she returned to California and settled in Sonoma County where she started her own label Cerridwen with a focus on producing wines of tremendous character, intensity and complexity using cool climate, high elevation coastal grapes.