This is part of a series to introduce you to interesting people in the wine industry. For many, the journey into wine is not only intriguing but often quite an adventure. These talented individuals are what make the wine industry what it is today so follow this series to meet this group of passionate people who have dedicated their lives to wine.
Was there a specific wine, moment or place that unlocked your passion?
Sitara Monica Perez: Actually, there was. I had always enjoyed wine as an adult beverage with dinner or hanging out with friends but it wasn’t until I went to Buenos Aires, Argentina to take a TEFL training course and inadvertently landed a choice position. I ended up working for Count Federico Zychy-Thyssen, a Hungarian Count known for his famous Arabian horses. Federico had a healthy appetite for wine and a wine cellar that he was very proud of. Every day that I worked for him he would have a new wine to introduce to me. Some of the best wines in the world. I was deeply moved by some of these wines. I really had no idea what wine beyond a supermarket shelf could be and this introduction set me on a path to educate my palate as well as my mind.
What did you study in school and what were you doing before you started in the wine industry?
SMP: I got my B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis on philosophy, poetry, and literature. Before I began to make wine, I went through a polyglot of jobs and potential careers. As a young woman, I worked in dive pubs, did finish work on chainsaw sculptures, was an apprentice to a chimney sweep, an artist’s model, and worked in a paint store, among other things. In Costa Rica my ex-husband and I worked with live reptiles, traveling to remote jungles searching for rare snakes and lizards. In Argentina, I was the full-time companion and English tutor to Countess Zychy-Thyssen. In Peru, I sought out art for an oilman in Calgary, Alberta. He then sent me to Ecuador to start a zero-footprint community. I took care of my ailing father for a year and when I was free to reinvent myself, decided to do it in wine.
How has being in the wine industry changed you?
SMP: I’ve realized how strong and determined I can be once I’ve set my sights on something. In spite of many challenges, I continue to make my wine, good wines that I put my hands and my heart into going on 9 years now. So, I guess the way that it’s changed me is mostly in the way I view myself. I am much more confident, passionate and capable than I ever knew.
What’s your favorite part of being in the wine industry?
SMP: Drinking it. Duh! But seriously, as a winemaker it’s the balance of creativity and cerebral work that keeps me on my toes. It’s never boring. There’s always a new challenge, a new discovery, a new wine on the horizon. Also, I’m part of a pretty cool community of hardworking wine lovers. And I get a big kick out of introducing my wines to new friends at my little tasting bar (El Corcho Rosa, “the pink cork”) in Valle de Guadalupe and getting that, oh wow look. It’s very satisfying.
Looking back, was there something in your past that led you to wine?
SMP: Everything and nothing in particular. I’m just on my path and choose to be where I am now and can’t imagine a future where I’m not making wine. After everything I’ve done and been through, I feel that I’ve finally found my true vocation. What led me here? The willingness to take risks and say yes to opportunities and the (perhaps naïve) notion that I’m unstoppable.