Winemaker, Materra, Cunat Family Vineyards
Born into an Italian family, Bruce spent many afternoons growing up smelling the aromas coming from the family kitchen and anticipating the delicious blended flavors of another authentic Sunday dinner. With grandparents from Genoa and Calabria, the family was brought up in the Italian tradition that everyone was underfed. The food was always fresh and plentiful, and there was always wine on the table.
From the bountiful table of his youth, Bruce knew the benefit from well-farmed and managed gardens was fresh, flavorful produce and deep structured wines. He pursued this interest and curiosity in his academic studies, earning a degree in botany and plant and soil science from Chico State in California. He graduated and worked for two large farming entities before taking a job as a vineyard manager in Mendocino County in the mid-80s. Bruce's talent and style as a winemaker developed as he transitioned from vineyard manager to winemaker at a small vineyard, later purchased by Duckhorn Wine Company.
It was during his time as a winemaker for Duckhorn and specifically his responsibilities for Goldeneye, a well-respected Pinot Noir brand from California's Anderson Valley, that Bruce acknowledged Pinot Noir as his favorite wine and winemaking as his life's endeavor. With Goldeneyes success, Bruce was hired by several Napa Valley wineries to provide consultation and guidance to their winemaking programs. His love and passion for the terroir have kept Bruce in the Napa Valley, working with wineries in one of the best grape growing regions in the world.
Bruce's passion and respect for the land ultimately led him to his current partnership with the Cunat Family as a consulting winemaker for Materra. Through experience and passion, Bruce, Brian Cunat and the rest of the family continue their labor of love at the Oak Knoll vineyard which is home to the award-winning wines of Materra.
Country born: United States
Education: B.S. in Plant and Soil Science and Botany - Chico State
Years in the wine industry: 30+ years
To make great wine you must spend a lot of time in the vineyard. Walking the vines, smelling the earth, taking in the environment. The great chefs of the world start in the garden hand picking the best ingredients to make amazing dishes. Wine making is very similar; we have to evaluate our raw products, tasting, smelling, and thinking about each flavor and how they will mesh with others. When harvesting you must treat each grape with care and know how they want to be treated. Knowing how to extract the best in each berry is paramount. After Fermentation tasting as often as possible is very important, again you need to know each personality so you can later assemble them into wines with depth, texture, balance, and character. The relationship continues until the final cork captures this unique character, reflecting all the complexity of the season