Meet Our New Winemaker Crystal Weaver-Kiessling
Crystal Weaver-Kiessling recently joined Head Winemaker Darin Peterson and the Quady Crew, bringing her passion, expertise and years of experience to help make magic with the sweet wines you know and love. We recently sat down with Crystal to ask her a few questions about her journey so far.
What tasks are you responsible for as winemaker here at Quady Winery?
Darin has been doing a lot of the grape intake and planning, and I’ve been working with Juan, our cellarmaster, from there to plan where things are going to go, and how to clean it up so we can start blending. Darin and I have been working together on blends, and so I’ve been learning the blends also, because this is a new style for me – I haven’t done this style of wine before.
What made you decide to pursue a career in winemaking?
I actually started brewing beer on my own and I thought that was really fun. When I transferred to Fresno State, they did the tour for everybody, and when I toured the winery, it seemed so amazing and I was like, “This is what I want to do.” And it was a really weird moment because I was going to Fresno State as a Journalism major because my dad was in radio and I thought it was kind of cool I had grown up at a radio station. But I just got really interested in wine. I started as an enology major and got through a good portion of that; but it wasn’t clicking the way I thought it would. So I took a field studies class and during spring break they picked a region and you spent a week there and got to go and tour all the vineyards and a bunch of wineries and it was really nice. And there was a point during the whole trip where I realized my favorite part about the trip was the vineyard side of it. I really liked it. So I switched my major halfway through to viticulture. When Fresno State had a career fair, I remember someone I knew who worked for the company I last worked for said, “You should throw your hat in the ring for the internship because then you can see what winemakers want from the vineyard and that will make you well rounded.” So I signed up and got the internship, and harvest was wild and crazy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s nothing else like it. When I was done, I thought, “I think this is what I want to do.” So I did that for 9 years and bounced around all of the wineries up and down California, and I did a vintage in Australia. I got to not only make different wines, I got to do export and domestic, I got to make juice and concentrate, I got to see all different processes, all kinds of machines and setups and work with a bunch of different people. As daunting as it was to keep moving to different wineries all of the time, it’s something I remain really grateful for because I learned a lot.
What’s your favorite Quady wine?
I think Essensia is just fascinating. I think you could say “for sure, I like this by taste,” everyone has that preference, but for me, I think once I make it all, that’s what’ll help me pick my favorite. So far my favorite has been Essensia. And I busted it out at a party at my house, and it was overwhelmingly popular. I like all of the wines though. There’s not one I’ve had yet that I haven’t liked.
What’s a fun fact about you that most people don’t know?
My love of mutts and rescue dogs. If I could ultimately one day have a situation where it’s a dog rescue and a winery together that would be my number one thing – if you could go get wine and rescue a dog, it would be the perfect day, right? Puppies and wine just go together!
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
I would probably want to be able to become invisible so I could go wherever I wanted and see whatever I wanted. And see how people are when no one is around, to see people in their natural element. I guess maybe because I’m nosey, ha ha! (I think sometimes as a mom you wish you could maybe be invisible for a little bit to get a break. Ha ha ha!)
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My kids. My oldest is at UC Santa Cruz and I love that. It’s hard to get a kid into college and steer them in the right direction without being overbearing. And with my first I was a single mom, so that was really hard – to work a lot of jobs and go to school and be a single mom. And for him to be pretty successful while I was doing all of that, I think is probably one of my top accomplishments. And I have a 3-year-old, and I think having a 3-year-old late in life and still working, and working in the wine business, which is crazy, was also quite the accomplishment. I was pregnant with him during harvest, and then when I had him and went on maternity leave, I came back two days before harvest started again and just hit the ground running. New mom, older mom, and just went through harvest and felt I did well. I see myself as a pretty good mom and I am very proud of that. Being a working mom is hard. I could also never do it without the help of a very supportive husband; he always steps up during harvest so not only I make it through harvest, but so does the family. So yes, my proudest accomplishments are my kids and how successful they’ve been, and being a good mom.