Interview With A Winemaker – Juanita Diusaba Yusunguaira

21st May 2024

Interview With A Winemaker Juanita Diusaba Yusunguaira

Wine isn’t just made, it’s crafted by the unwavering expertise of a Winemaker, sometimes old traditions are passed down by generations and on other occasions, new people venture into the industry, introducing us to new creations, this series of Winemaker Interviews will help you uncover the vast world and skills of how the artists passionate about wine make the world a bubbly place.

In this feature we speak with Juanita Diusaba Yusunguaira, the talented Assistant Winemaker for Lyme Bay Winery in Devon, England, let’s discover a little about her time as a Winemaker in the English Wine Industry.

It’s Great To Speak With You, Juanita, Can You Tell Us A Bit About Yourself And How You Become Involved In The Wine Industry?

“My wine journey is attached to my traveling. My ambition to experience the world connected me to many bottles of wine worldwide and gave me a different perspective on getting to know each culture without division.

Wine reminds me of home, Colombia. I have lived abroad for almost twelve years, and sitting at the table with a bottle of wine with my family was a memorable moment. Also, I was interested in listening to my father tell me stories of wine places he had visited while working outside my country, as we couldn’t afford for me to travel at the time.

On the other hand, I developed as a pastry chef in New York and London. The scene of the restaurants made me think that food relies on the flavors of the wine and vice versa.

Pairing my dessert menu with the sommeliers expanded my mind in many ways. I could see the layers of my cake described in one glass of sauterne wine: the constant learning process of wine knowledge and the intrinsic interaction with the people’s palate rectified my decision to integrate my cuisine with winemaking.”

As A Winemaker, What Has Been Your Hardest Obstacle To Overcome In Producing Wine?

“My biggest challenges have been the language barrier and the technical terminology used in the wineries. When I completed my WSET level 3 courses in London, I couldn’t get my diploma for the same reason. Still, my frustration led me to travel to Washington State and study a hands-on program in applied science in enology and viticulture in Walla Walla; that way, I could appreciate the big picture of what wine growing and winemaking was about! After getting my degree, I worked making wine for L’Ecole No41, Gramercy Cellars, and Flowers Winery in Sonoma, California. After being gone for three years, I decided to return to England to support the wine industry and not give up on my WSET diploma, which I started recently in London while furthering and applying my knowledge as an assistant winemaker for Lyme Bay Winery in Devon, England.”

How Do You Determine When Your Wine Is Ready To Drink?

“First, trust your palate. Following up and understanding the stages of winegrowing to winemaking gives me an overall perspective of the wine needs and the desirable final product before it is released.

The maturation stage shows how the wines have accomplished the fermentation process and malolactic fermentation if desired.

Light, aromatic grape varietals that ideally have been protected from oxygen at the proper temperatures are better released sooner rather than later. Each winemaker becomes an artist during the blending process and makes decisions that can elevate the quality of the wine that require extra time, such as the wine spending time on the lees, choosing tartrate stabilization, fining or not fining, and filtration, all of them contribute to the balance, style, and quality of the product.

Good organization skills, a strict sanitation process, and a record of each wine’s phase are essential for me. Wines that have spent time on the wood need more time to integrate with tannins and aroma compounds at slow exposure to oxygen.

I value each grape’s expression and personality, as well as an outstanding balance between tannins and acids, with good length on the palate and complexity, which makes the wine suitable for aging.

The laboratory analysis ensures the wine is in good condition before and after bottling, but always taste and taste. Winemakers usually look for faults, while sommeliers look for beauty. I am fortunate to see both sides of the coin.”

What Part Of The Wine Making Process Do You Enjoy The Most?

“My favorite parts of the process are the grapes’ arrival, taste + brix + temp, and cap management.

During the last harvest, I worked with native fermentations for the first time, and the wines were genuinely expressive and unpredictable. Tasting the ferments from different clones in the morning showed me their evolution and needs for handling cap management but, most importantly, their connection with the science of each grape and how to choose the right clones from the best sites for a better-quality wine.”

How Do You See The Future Of English Sparkling Wine?

“I look forward to seeing what the future holds for English Sparkling wine and still wine.

Even while driving, I imagine vineyards being planted on both sides and becoming a larger wine region; I have hope. It’s always challenging, but with climate change and experience living close to the fires in Washington State and California, I see grape-growing getting closer to cooler climates.

England has a rich history of wine trading and a great diversity of wines worldwide. I had the opportunity to meet knowledgeable people when I worked as a sommelier in London as well. Also, I am excited to hear from hungry viticulturists about their vine plantations and how they need to handle the risk of frost damage in countries like England. Great quality wines are being produced, and I see a lot of women leading the wine industry, which encourages me to work harder and be part of a community that takes challenges as an opportunity to grow.”

Can You Share One Of The Most Memorable Experiences You’ve Enjoyed With A Glass of Bubbly?

“It’s always at the beginning and end of harvest. I like to bless the grapes with sparkling wine and be surrounded by people who enjoy the same passion as me. It’s the time of year that I have been waiting for.

Harvesting requires a lot of labor and extended work hours, but “work hard and play hard” is always time for a glass of bubbly for me; nothing makes me happier! Cheers.”

Thank you Juanita, for sharing your words, knowledge and experience with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Images belong to Juanita Diusaba Yusunguaira. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.